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More on Grid Computing and Gaming 150

Posted by michael
from the weakest-link dept.
securitas writes "Sony, IBM and Butterfly.net will announce and demonstrate a new grid computing network for PS2 online gaming at the Game Developers Conference next week. The network is based on Linux and the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) and is designed to support millions of players. This is believed to be the first major consumer application of grid technology. Read the details at the NY Times, CNET and the Washington Post."
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More on Grid Computing and Gaming

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  • And here I thought the network interface for my PS2 I purchased was just a fancy means of colecting dust samples from the sournding area. You mean some one may release soem software for it after all this time?
  • ...I really DON'T think this'll come cheap.
  • About time... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Da Fokka (94074) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:03AM (#5395273) Homepage
    X-Box online is a Major selling point for the X-Box right now. I'm surprised Sony didn't come up with anything similar earlier.
    • well... (Score:2, Funny)

      by borgdows (599861)
      is there really a major selling-point for the Xbox?!?
      • i can only think of one:
        some people said M$ was selling them at loss
      • Re:well... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Da Fokka (94074)
        It's always easy to bash Microsoft on slashdot but I have to say that the X-box is a pretty decent product. Technologically it beats the crap out of the PS2 although the game line-up could be better. But it's improving.

        XOL provides a lot of people with an easy way to play games without the annoyances of cheaters/abuse. I'm not a fan of Microsoft but they're doing pretty well with de X-Box.

        The PS2 Linux dev-kit is pretty sweet though :)
        • Re:well... (Score:3, Funny)

          by DemiKnute (237008)
          Technologically it beats the crap out of the PS2 although the game line-up could be better.

          Yeah, you cannot beat the breast jiggling code that that there XBox has, no sirree.
        • "Technologically it beats the crap out of the PS2 although the game line-up could be better."

          Just because we are more familiar with the tech of the X-Box doesn't make it better, personally I don't really think any of the big three consoles is indisputably more powerful than the others. Just look at games like GT Concept and Ace Combat 4 on the PS2, then tell me again how the other consoles have better gfx. They're ALL worthy systems, but Microsoft should simply not be allowed into this market. trust me, it'll be IE6 and Outlook on the X-Box before long, and Dell will start to wonder who ate their lunch.

          Don't buy Microsoft products.
          • Here is where I pulled the data [thexboxstop.com]. You may search to cross verify it. I'm only going to pull the basics, the link has a great chart with complete breakdowns on PS2, GC, Xbox, and DC. Worth a look if you really want to know. You should probably ignore it if you want to continue to personally think that the big three don't have indisputable power differences..

            PlayStation 2
            CPU: 295 MHz
            Video: 150 MHz
            Polygon Count: 66 Million
            RAM: 32 MB

            GameCube
            CPU: 485 MHz
            Video: 202.5 MHz
            Polygon Count: 6 - 12 Million
            RAM: 43 MB

            Xbox
            CPU: 733 MHz
            Video: 300 MHz
            Polygon Count: 125 Million
            RAM: 64 MB

            Listed from weakest to most powerful. When presented with the facts, it's clear which machine is superior and which machine is using latent technology. The only quirk point is the poly count on GC, but it's still deserving of second fiddle due to the dominance over PS2 in the other categories.

            That has nothing to do with how the power is used. Currently the Xbox has the most power, but the least utility. Granted DOA Beach Volleyball is impressive graphically, but nobody has really pushed the box to it's limits in a game. When that happens, the PS2 and GC will look like N64 in comparison.
            • by deemah (644363) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @11:40AM (#5396059) Homepage Journal

              There's more to this debate than pure numbers. The PS2 and the GameCube have radically different architectures to the Xbox.

              In fact, in your list, the only numbers that can actually be used as a measure of performance are those of the PC-like Xbox.

              If I were to describe the PS2 as having three processors working in parallel, each with their own on board memory and two of them able to operate on vectors directly, you might start to see how it differs from a PC concept.

              Similarly with vRAM. The PS2 has a 'measly' 4Mb of video ram but it also has the ability to stream textures in and out of it faster than a frame can be drawn. This gives you a much larger 'virtual' vRAM.

            • by EpsCylonB (307640) <eps@epsc y l onb.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @11:45AM (#5396105) Homepage
              Sorry but this is misleading, the CPU's for the PS2 and GC are both specifically designed for games, the xbox is still more powerful but it is a lot closer than those numbers represent.

              The xbox is running a x86 intel chip, I'm sure most of us here don't need to be reminded that the current x86 chips we use today are descendants of of chips designed purely to crunch numbers for business applications. Quite a lot of CPU cycles are wasted in current computers, if you were trying to design a CPU for an interactive entertainment system you would not design it like an x86 chip.

              Also the fact that the PS2 is 18 months older than the xbox explains why it's spec seems to be unimpressive.
              • That's actually untrue, or at least misleading. In addition to the x86 processor, the XBox includes a GPU (NV25) dedicated to graphics processing. This doesn't just draw triangles either, it processes shader programs and handles transforms and lighting. This is by far the bulk of the console's work.

                The type of processor is pretty much irrelevant, which is presumably why they went for a bog standard, cheap x86.
              • The xbox is running a x86 intel chip, I'm sure most of us here don't need to be reminded that the current x86 chips we use today are descendants of of chips designed purely to crunch numbers for business applications.

                I'm sure most of us here don't need to be reminded that the numbers used in business applications are different to the numbers used in games. As an example, I offer for your consideration 19.99, a number most often associated with business applications. It is rare indeed to find such a number as this used in a game.

                20, on the other hand, or even 100, are numbers commonly found in computer games. It could be argued that these numbers are found in business applications also, so instead I ask you to consider the venerable pi, or even the square root of two; numbers so intensely game-oriented they come with their own description!

                In conclusion, I'd just like to say thank you.

            • When presented with the facts, it's clear which machine is superior and which machine is using latent technology.

              Cuz we all know that CPU MGz is the defining performance factor, and that theoretical polygon count is the same as actual polygon count.

              Currently the Xbox has the most power, but the least utility.

              Define "utility".

              nobody has really pushed the box to it's limits in a game

              Let me guess, Microsoft told you that?

              I actually own both consoles. Yes, Xbox wins out graphically, but not by leaps and bounds. PS2's only flaw is its poor texturing ability and lack of hardware shaders for surface effects. But good devs like Naughty Dog and Rockstar (with GTA:VC) are coming up with some nice software graphical implementations. And in the end, it really is about the games, and PS2 continues to dominate in that respect, although Xbox is slowly getting better.
              • How can you not mention the fact that you never have to buy memory cards for your XBox, or that you can create custom soundtracks from your own CDs, and listen to them from the console? The XBox is clearly the better system. I'm not a huge fan of Microsoft products, but they make the best console going.

                • How can you not mention the fact that you never have to buy memory cards for your XBox, or that you can create custom soundtracks from your own CDs, and listen to them from the console? The XBox is clearly the better system. I'm not a huge fan of Microsoft products, but they make the best console going.

                  I could be wrong, but I usually play games on my consoles. Thats why I don't have an X-Box...until I see some really high caliber (and exclusive) games coming out for X-Box, I really have no reason to buy one.

                  Did you know you can create custom soundtracks on your computer, and listen to them from your computer? Not only that you can burn CD's, play PC games, check your e-mail, sign on to Instant Messanger clients and surf the web...

                  I also love it when people throw numbers around without actually knowing what the numbers mean...its like someone comparing a AMD and P4 both running at 1.8 Ghz and saying they are the same speed.
            • really, you've just reinforced my point. We are familiar with the tech specs of PCs, so we recognise that the X-Box is a pretty nifty games playing machine - probably better than ANY currently available notebook PC, anyway. However, trying to break down the custom architectures of the GC and PS2 in the same way is just a fools' errand. We can see on our screens that the GC often has just beautiful lighting effects, we can see that PS2 sometimes has incredibly fast moving / hugely detailed models and that X-Box games often have gorgeously rendered textures. Does any of this affect gameplay? Not really, and with each consoles' other indisyncratic technologies playing their different roles, none gains a tangible lead over the others.
            • by gergi (220700) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @12:31PM (#5396604)
              Just so you know...
              The Polygon count specified for PS2 & XBox are optimum but not "real-world" while the GC polygon count is "real-world". The numbers are actually fairly even across the board.

              The CPU for the PS2 & GC are also designed for games, which the XBox is not. This makes a huge difference.

              It boils down to this:
              Sony relies on different numbers, the number of people who own a PS2 and the number of games available. Which is why the PS2 is #1 in games sold, by a huge margin.
              Nintendo doesn't rely on numbers at all, it relies on games to speak for the quality of the GC. Which is why the Gamecube is by far the most profitable of the current systems, despite selling less games than the PS2.
              XBox is relying on the argument the TurboGrax and other failed products rely on: "Better" hardware. They need to focus on more games if they want any market-share. Which is why Microsoft is in last place world-wide and losing a fortune.

              It's the games, stupid.
            • You must know by now that a straight comparison of figures on paper is meaningless. An SGI Octane with what, on paper, is a low clock speed trounces all over an equivalent intel machine. Remind me what the main processor of a PS2 is.
            • The xbox cpu is mostly 32-bit (i believe it does some things in 64 and 128 bit *shrug*), while the ps2 cpu is 128 bit.

              The polygon counts on the xbox and ps2 are based on raw polygons, while on the gamecube they're based on textured polygons.

              The most important technology of the ps2 is the backwards compatibility with psx games. Thats the reason people went out and got one instead of waiting for good games to come out. It also gives the ps2 a huge number of combined games.
        • "Technologically it beats the crap out of the PS2 although the game line-up could be better"

          Surely game play is the whole point of consoles. It doesn't matter how pretty a game is, how many vertices a console can render, how many channels of sound it has etc etc. In the end it's down to game play. The best of the 8 bit micro games are still very enjoyable and in modern terms they have crap sound and graphics. The PC version of Vice City is prettier than the PS2 version but it's still the same game the extra is just icing on the cake. I bought a PS2 purely because there were more really playable games.
          • You're right except for the really bad comparison.
            There IS no version of Vice City for PC, it's a PS2 ONLY game.

            If you're looking for the proper comparison, it's GTA3 on PC vs GTA3 on PS2.

            But, the playability factor is the major one as you mentioned. I thoroughly enjoy playing GTA3 on the console over the PC, it just feels better. (Besides the comfort factor of being able to lounge on the couch ;-) Even though, as you mention, it typically _looks_ better on the PC.

      • I own all 3 systems, they are identically connected via S-video to a Trinitron TV. I own at least one game that spans all 3 platforms.

        All numbers and specs aside, the XBox looks better (to me, YMMV) and is smoother, followed closely by the 'Cube and the PS2 brings up the rear.

        The ability to use custom soundtracks and never needing a memory card is a plus over both the Cube and the PS2. Also, the only real competitor in the graphics department (the Cube) doesn't play DVD's. You might need to buy a remote for it, but at you can use the money you saved by NOT having to buy a seperate braodband adapter.

        The XBox live service is nice too. One fee, one login, all my games. The Sony and Nintendo plans will not be so simple or convenient, requiring a different fee for each game you want to play. I doubt I'll even bother getting online with those platforms.

        I despise Microsoft's business practices, dislike the Windows OS more and more each day, and think BillG is a weenie in Geek's clothing; that doesn't seem to stop me from admitting that they got the XBox right.

        • The XBox live service is nice too. One fee, one login, all my games.

          Not true. PSO will require an additional fee, and there's no guarantee that there won't be future games like that.

          XBox's selling feature was that "Network enabled out of the box" -- and that was a load of bull. Sure, it had a built in ethernet port, but: you need to buy the live starter kit ($), and you need to subscribe to Live ($$), and then get the game ($$$). Frankly, I found PS2's network connectivity easier to set up; and far cheaper to run (all, or almost all, of the current net enabled games for the PS2 are FREE to play).
          • It is able to be linked to other XBoxes right from the factory, OOTB. Yes, you need to buy the Live kit, but it is (IIRC) still cheaper than the PS2 or Cube adaptors are/will be.

            Admittedly, right now there are mostly free games online for the PS2. How long do you think that will last, how long before you get a different bill and monthly fee for each new game online?

            At least the PSO fee (IIRC) will be rolled into the XBox billing...

    • They did. Online gaming was touted ages before the PS2 came out. But Sony underestimating the surge in popularity of multiplayer games moved to slow.

      Xbox however hot on the heels of the PC multiplayer boom included it from the start.

      For all their evil MS can be quick to spot a hole in the law...err I mean market and exploit it. They have a tendancy to drive hard when they smell weakness in the opposition.
      .
      That and blatent dirty tactics usually put them on top.
      .
    • Re:About time... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ding... welcome to reality...

      Sony has the PS2 online for MUCH longer than the X box.

      PS2 online gaming is FREE for most games.. and is a per-month for only the subscription games.

      Oh did I mention that I play the halo killer Tribes-2 Arial assult FREE online? as well as twisted metal black online for FREE and several other games for FREE online..

      A major selling point against the X box is that the PS2 online gaming is for the most part FREE.

      put that in your X box and smoke it.

      I cant believe how the X box owners are completely oblivious.. I had one tell me yesterday that there were more games for the X box than the PS2. So I pulled up a list for both and asked this person again what did they mean.. they said "Oh I mean the PS1"... HAHAHAHAHAHA! NOTHING has more games than the PS1.. not even the Atari 2600.

      Oh well... X box will still reside as the number 3 gaming console... with Sony at the top and nintendo in the middle.

      Oh wait .... there's only 3 players in the console game?? sorry MS...
      • NOTHING has more games than the PS1.. not even the Atari 2600.

        actually, Nintendo SuperFamicom (NES) is the console with the most games ever!
        • any idea how many?

          surely the PS1 must have thousands - I can't help but wonder now how many games were written for the C=64, Amiga and Sega Megadrive - they all had many hundreds for sure. Got any stats? And what about the Gameboy?
      • Let's take a look at this a bit further:

        XBox came with networking capabilities out of the box. PS2, you paid 40.00 for the adapter. XBox could go online before the PS2, because XBConnect and Gamespy had software out to allow this to happen. Oh wait, how much did I pay for that? Nothing. The 'box also has a hard drive in it... out of the box. Wonder what Sony's gonna charge for that?

        PS2 gaming might be free, but remember: you get what you pay for. With my XBox Live subscription, I have: One name across all games, which no one can take, voice communications in all games, a friends list for easy tracking, and the best part: downloadable content, right to my hard drive, and game patches as well, if needed.

        I love these PS2 fanboys. I have all three consoles. Any game that comes out for all platforms, I'll pick up the XBox copy. Case in point: Check out Splinter Cell for the box, then try it on PS2. A lot of detail is lost on the PS2.

        One other comment: How is Tribes 2 a Halo-killer? You must be kidding.

    • This is similar to Xbox Live? How?

      I don't see any central managing, billing, authentication, single ID, etc, etc, etc. It feels like an interesting network for a game developer to run their titles on, but they still seem to need to do all the rest of the work, no? And at that point, it almost seems easier to go with a known server solution and be done with it.

      Don't get me wrong - there could be something here. But the press release is a great example of hype and no substance - where are the dropped names of leading game developers, and killer games? I get suspicious when there's no industry support.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've read a few Grid papers, and still do not understand what is so original about the "grid" idea. Isn't it essentially the idea of ARPANET, except with better funding? :)
    • by rw2 (17419) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:41AM (#5395528) Homepage
      ARPANET was about creating a network that was resiliant to bad things.

      There are parallels. When an arpanet node goes down routing takes place on the other nodes instead.

      In a grid there are many nodes. Some have speciallized resources that are fairly single point of failure suseptable (e.g. mass storage systems, large experimental devices), but most can be supplanted by another node.

      That's where the analogy stops though. Where arpanet was concerned with networking, grids are concerned with networking on in that they use them. They are really about job movement, data movement, resource discovery and _security_.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        ARPANET was about creating a network that was resiliant to bad things.

        No, it wasn't. This myth is till being purpetuated, even though it has been debunked by the original developers of ARAPNET themselves many times over.

        ARPANET was designed to link together a whole bunch of very expensive, DoD funded computing centers. It turned out that packet switching was a really great way to do this efficiently. Now, while early packet switching research at RAND in the 50's was concerned with building a survivable communications network, it was irrelvent for as applied to ARPANET.

        I recomend the book Where Wizards Stay Up Late for more information.
    • The Grid is supposed to bring together various concepts from High Performance Computing (HPC), distributed computing and peer to peer computing (these two have different aims despite being similar).

      The thing which is new and good about the Grid is that it has tied together areas such as single sign on systems, Certificated Public Private Key cryptography and various other things.

      Fron the /. crowds perspective this may not seem to interesting, but when you have a 650 Terabyte database which is being partially replicated in 5 countries and with new data being generated at 100MB/sec which also needs to be processed, analysed and played with, the Grid is "a good thing".

      Yes the Grid sounds like the arpanet concept, but its easy to have concepts - getting them to work is hard! Just because something 30 years ago had similar aims simply shows that it was overly ambitious then, and hopefully now we've learnt enough to actually do it.

  • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:04AM (#5395280) Homepage Journal
    "Butterfly uses a "grid computing" approach, in which multiple servers work together as a virtual supercomputer, seamlessly shifting processing tasks among individual machines."

    How is this different from Parallel computing?
    • Re:hmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by Organic_Info (208739)
      "How is this different from Parallel computing?"

      Its all in the pattern in which you arrange the servers.

      Parallel, butteryfly, grid, hexagon, hypercube....... :)
    • I believe the difference between a 'grid' and 'parallel computing' is that a grid tends to just run individual un-related instances on each server.

      Though I could be wrong...
    • by pbhj (607776) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:19AM (#5395395) Homepage Journal

      It's not! As far as I can discern the only difference is in the length (and quantity) of the connections. Parallel computing normal involves a local cluster of computers (LAN, eg a Beowulf type project) whilst the Grid works on the SETI type system of enlisting processing power across the internet (WAN) - ie many more processors separated by greater differences. Note these are comparative terms so you decide what's a Grid and what's an MPP

      Whatis says: Grid computing requires the use of software that can divide and farm out pieces of a program to as many as several thousand computers. Grid computing can be thought of as distributed and large-scale cluster computing and as a form of network-distributed parallel processing. It can be confined to the network of computer workstations within a corporation or it can be a public collaboration (in which case it is also sometimes known as a form of peer-to-peer computing).

      pbhj

    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by lovebyte (81275)
      How is this different from Parallel computing?

      If you go to venture capitalists to sell your brilliant and new idea on parallel computing, they will show you the door.

      If you sed 's/parallel/grid/g', then they'll ask you 'How much do you want?'
    • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by s.d. (33767) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @11:14AM (#5395839)
      How is this different from Parallel computing?

      It isn't. Grid computing is the big buzzword of the day these days. I work with, and on, Globus, and this stuff just doesn't work yet. But beyond the fact that it isn't reliable software, what IBM is doing with Butterfly isn't really Grid computing. They're just saying that to get publicity.

      Some of the original articles last year attributed features of the "grid" they're setting up to the Globus software, while anyone who has actually installed Globus knows that it can't do (things like accounting, failover services, etc).

    • It's shorter.
    • Shamelessly stolen from www.gridcomputing.com...

      What is a Grid?

      In June, I attended the Grid Computing Planet conference in San Jose, California and I was suprised to learn that people even call cluster as grid. I believe that it is a marketing hype. Here is my definition of the Grid, which is based on my presentation as part of the "Understanding the Grid" panel:

      Grid is a type of parallel and distributed system that enables the sharing, selection, and aggregation of resources distributed across "multiple" administrative domains based on their (resources) availability, capability, performance, cost, and users' quality-of-service requirements.

      If distributed resources happen to be managed by a single, global centralised scheduling system, then it is a cluster. In cluster, all nodes work cooperatively with common goal and objective as the resource allocation is performed by a centralised, global resource manager. In Grid, each node has its own resource manager and allocation policy. Some of these points are being highlighted in my panel presentation at P2P 2002 conference.

      Note: "multiple" administrative domains can exist within a single organisation. For example, two clusters managed by their own resource managers within an university can form a grid.

  • crowded (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rutje (606635) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:13AM (#5395352)
    support millions of players
    That's gonna be crowded on the GranTurisma race tracks...
  • by fbg111 (529550) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:18AM (#5395392)
    Sounds like MSN 8... Hope Sony's not going to get sued by MS for trademark infringement.
  • Now We Need Games! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 6e7a (256012) <6e7an0n@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#5395412) Journal
    It seems to me that the more technology these companies throw at games, the less I feel the desire to play them. Don't get me wrong: I love excellent graphics and sound. I just think the playability suffers when a game developer spends so much effort on the technology. I'm glad we have such a scalable platform for online gaming. I just haven't seen games that are as compelling as they used to be to take advantage of the platform. Am I getting too old for video games?
    • by Dan Ost (415913)
      No, you're not getting too old. You're just
      looking for something in a game that isn't a
      high priority for the gaming industry.

      Games today are designed to be impressive and
      flashy enough to get you to buy them, playable
      enough that while you're playing it the first
      time through you tell all your friends, but not
      replayable so that you're done with it by the
      time the next title comes out.

      I don't mind story lines in a game, but if finding
      out the story line is the only reason to play the
      game, then it's not worth the effort because
      then the game play feels like work (as opposed
      to play) and there's no replay value.
      • Games today are designed to be impressive and flashy enough to get you to buy them, playable enough that while you're playing it the first time through you tell all your friends, but not replayable so that you're done with it by the time the next title comes out.

        Planned Obselescence [smalltownmarketing.com]... what an interesting concept.

        Thanx, but no thanx. I'll stick to games that don't force me to keep buying new stuff. Like nethack [nethack.org], or StarCraft.

    • You have a point, but these companies aren't trying to give themselves an advantage right now. Developing all the technology now will pay off later when the second or third generation of games based on that technology are released.

      you want compelling games? Try a gamecube: pikmin, animal crossing, cubivore, not to mention well done classics like metroid, mario sunshine, and a new zelda game. You are never too old for video games, as long as you can let yourself enjoy them.

  • For those who are too lazy, here is
    Butterfly.net [butterfly.net]
    "Welcome to Butterfly.net! Our fully-distributed server technology is pioneering the use of open grid computing protocols in large-scale immersive game networks that support unlimited numbers of players and require the most demanding levels of service."

    If it's different Butterfly, sorry for that, thanks for Karma.
  • I'm excited (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arvindn (542080) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:24AM (#5395426) Homepage Journal
    about the implications that this could have for other applications. As an example, consider IBM's Deep Blue chess playing program that defeated Kasparov in 1997. It used a massively parallel grid for evaluating positions using custom-built hardware costing millions. Now imagine if the same thing could be achieved over a grid on top of the internet. You have a world champion beating chessplayer right on your desktop!

    Another application would be in natural language processors. They require huge databases and computing power to process them. A grid would be a perfect way to build such a system.

    Mind you, these applications are equally commercially viable. You could charge say $1000 per game against the world champion chess program, or $100 for 30 minutes of conservation with the most intelligent bot ever, and so on.

    • Re:I'm excited (Score:2, Informative)

      by jstott (212041)
      about the implications that this could have for other applications. As an example, consider IBM's Deep Blue chess playing program that defeated Kasparov in 1997. It used a massively parallel grid for evaluating positions using custom-built hardware costing millions. Now imagine if the same thing could be achieved over a grid on top of the internet. You have a world champion beating chessplayer right on your desktop!

      What's the bandwidth of your network? What's the latency of your network?

      What's the bandwidth of Deep Blue's internal bus? What's the latency of Deep Blue's internal bus?

      That's why Deep Blue cost millions.

      -JS

      • Not to mention the security aspect of it.. With Deep Blue, you didn't have to worry about something like this:

        Imagine you're playing chess with this "grid player." Only one of the nodes on this grid is a hacked client that is sending bad (but still authentic) results.. Because of this, you advance a pawn instead of moving your knight, leading to your defeat.

        Now, imagine this was more life-threatening than a simple game of chess. . . *shudder*
    • You could charge say [...] $100 for 30 minutes of conservation with the most intelligent bot ever, and so on.

      Is the most intelligent bot ever, and so on, why you could charge say $100? Tell me more.

      I suspect that you'd have better luck charging $10 to spectators to watch someone famous play against the world champion chess program.

    • You have a world champion beating chessplayer right on your desktop! Great. As if Chessmaster doesn't already kick my ass badly enough...
    • Mind you, these applications are equally commercially viable. You could charge say $1000 per game against the world champion chess program, or $100 for 30 minutes of conservation with the most intelligent bot ever, and so on.

      Uh, that's "commercially viable" in a sense only dot-commers would appreciate. There may be a few people who'd pay a grand to play against a fantastic computer "player," but you'd have lots better luck selling games against Kasparov. Would you rather pay $100 to converse with the most intelligent Eliza ever, or the movie star of your choice? Stephen Hawking?

      Most people can already lose handily to $10, bargain-bin Chessmaster. They're already fooled by the original Eliza when someone uses it on chat boards. I doubt there's a market for high-end versions of those experiences.

      (Plus, when the most intelligent bot ever answers you with "42," how'll you take it?)

  • ...is it powerful enough to withstand a good ol' /.ing?
  • by Amsterdam Vallon (639622) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:34AM (#5395486) Homepage
    ... so I looked up some simple details.

    "Grid is a type of parallel and distributed system that enables the sharing, selection, and aggregation of resources distributed across "multiple" administrative domains based on their (resources) availability, capability, performance, cost, and users' quality-of-service requirements."

    So, this project would essentially create one of the above distributed systems using simple, low-cost console gaming systems.

    I remember reading awhile ago that Iraq wanted Playstations in order to grid them together and create supercomputers from 99 dollar American gaming devices.
    • So, this project would essentially create one of the above distributed systems using simple, low-cost console gaming systems.
      No. This project will create some clusters or grids so that game consoles can connect to them to play multi-user games. AFAIK, they do not intend to grid/cluster PS2's.

      from 99 dollar American gaming devices.
      When you are an american, everything looks American. Even Japonese game consoles.
  • Hopefully the Lindows ordeal will make Microsoft less eager to challenge the use of "butterfly" in a domain name of a competitor. I do not know if Microsoft has a copyright on "butterfly" in regards to MSN, but they have spent a bit on advertising their "Friendly but Tough Butterfly" mascot for their internet service.
  • by Chitlenz (184283) <chitlenzNO@SPAMchitlenz.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:39AM (#5395519) Homepage
    Oracle has published a toolkit and several white papers about this technology. It is NOT just for games, and I've been watching this evolve along with their (Oracle's, not the globus project's)RAC technology as a cost efffective way to replace more our more expensive SUN hardware when we outgrow it. In particular, the idea of dispersing large ERP and data warehousing queries to perhaps several groups of inexpensive internal clusters (read: on our LAN) is very appealing, since you could in theory offset new hardware purchases by sharing time between systems. For those interested in perhaps theoretical distributed database applications (for the moment), Oracle has a site here:

    http://otn.oracle.com/products/oracle9i/grid_com pu ting/content.html
  • OK, mod me off-topic, but I'm genuinely interested in any news about GameCube online games coming out this year, about which I've heard ZERO. Any takers?

    OK, to stay on-topic... IBM made the processor for the GameCube, and IBM makes the hardware and software behind Butterfly.net. So why isn't this demo coming out with GameCube games instead of PS2 games?
    • Because the manager of the butterfly division at IBM plays racquet ball with one of the managers in the playstation division at sony. He just doesn't know anybody on the gamecube floor of his building.
    • IBM is making the PS3 CPU as well - the Cell. Derivatives of the Cell will also be used in other devices from both Sony and IBM. GC's PPC-based CPU has little to do with this joint venture b/t IBM & Sony.
    • Phantasy Star Online for the GCN is due pretty soon (or out now, depending where you are) playable online straight out of the box with the included modem. Also Nintendo just bought a company that specialises in handling the infrastructure and writing netcode for this sort of thing, but for the life of me I just can't remember the name of the company to provide a link (sorry!). Nintendo official spokesmen have said they are definitely planning online franchises for the future, but in typical Nintendo style are giving no details. Current buzz is around possible planned titles such as: Mario Kart Online, Timesplitters 3, and the Pokemon franchise. It's kinda hard to find info on the GCN online stuff really, there is definitely a modem available, also a broadband adapter to be released soon (already available in Japan), now an infrastructure provider, but it sure is hush hush on the game front. But what else is new, hey?
  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @10:57AM (#5395690)
    I've been following the development of Sony's console-based online efforts for a little while now, and I have to say they are definitely up to something big. Between this so-called Cell chip (or Grid or whatever), and now this interesting collusion with IBM (again) on their Butterfly.net... it raises some intriguing possibilities.

    However no one I've spoken to has the slightest clue as to how they plan on using this Grid stuff. Does anyone know any details? All I see are people saying 'no bandwidth, latency', etc.... I still can't figure out what it's supposed to do. Which is maybe on purpose.

    If you look at the chess pieces on the board, so to speak... MS with Xbox, MSN, flavours of XP with media/TV style abilities... then Sony, aligned with IBM for a new chip and a radical new network... not to mention the Cell sharing some tech with IBM's forthcoming Power derivatives for Apple...

    Strange things are afoot at the Circle K...

    • Didn't I see a Sony big-wig showing off a set top box a few months ago that was running Linux? Seems to me he also showed that it could send video wirelessly to any screen on the stage.

      Also there is the following from

      http://www.forbes.com/2002/12/18/cx_ld_1218sony. ht ml
      Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ) and Matsushita, both of Japan, said the operating system will be based on open-source Linux and will be available in March. The software will be used in non-PC devices like TV set-top boxes, digital cameras and DVD players.

      Increasingly, content that flows through these and other electronics will be networked via the Internet, and in the future they will all be able to communicate and share information. Part of what will be required is a common underlying software layer that runs on all electronic devices...


      More clues can be found here:

      http://net4tv.com/voice/story.cfm?storyid=3744

      Sony showed its desire to go broadband. They say they weren't announcing any actual products and that these were just technology demonstrations.

      First up was Real Networks demonstrating its broadband streaming technology. Sure the demonstration was at the unrealistic speed of a local network, but the demo guy assured us that it would look "almost as good" over a cable modem.

      Next up for the Sony PlayStation2 was... wait for it... Linux. Weird, huh? But there it was running the latest version of Netscape Navigator for Linux on a VGA monitor. No it won't work well on your TV because the browser isn't designed to display on TV.

      Even more of a shock was seeing America Online on the PS2. We were expecting the battle cry "You've Got Linux!" as it booted up with the favorite non-Microsoft operating system that nine out of ten geeks ask for by name. This dynamic duo were not, however, being displayed on a television, and it closely resembled the PC version of AOL being displayed on a VGA monitor connected to the PS2

      What Sony DIDN'T show was a web browser for television. When asked if AOL intended to bring AOLTV to the PlayStation console, the demo guy just smiled and said simply that it was being discussed.

      A third demo stand at the PS2 broadband booth showed a hi-definition 1080i movie that had been recorded onto the hard drive of the PS2....



      Also look at my own prediction number two in the following post:

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=48171&cid=49 02 698
      2) In five years streaming video will be good enough that video over the internet will be the "TV" of choice for most of the /. crowd and will be making the same waves in the main stream press that Linux and open source is making now. (with the same dire predictions from the entrenched dinosaurs)


      Finally, from the front page on /.
      from the weakest-link dept.
      securitas writes "Sony, IBM and Butterfly.net will announce and demonstrate a new grid computing network for PS2 online gaming at the Game Developers Conference next week.


      Perhaps something like on-demand interactive games/video/internet/email delivered over broadband and stored/run in your Sony media/dvd set top box and then played/displayed on any TV, PC, or laptop/tablet screen in your house either through wires or wirelessly?

      Many of these devices (at least the ones from Sony) will be running an version of embedded Linux.

      The grid part allows content to be stored and streamed from close to where it is being requested , reducing bandwidth bottlenecks and allowing content providers to place thier material on the grid (for a fee?) without having to invest in thier own streaming servers and internet pipes.

      Perhaps the grid will then track viewership of a product and kick a percent back to the developers and advertisers.

      Expect a huge uproar with tails of piracy and armagaden to come (you know congress will be involved) once the networks and greedywood see independent "internet radio" type video programing start to gain market share.
    • Here's a question to add: what if I don't have an internet connection, or for some reason don't want my game console online? Does this mean I can't play some games, or have to play them at reduced quality, since I won't have the grid to assist my console's processing? The majority of US homes still don't have broadband; Sony seems like it's going to deny key capabilities (which would be the major selling points) to the majority of buyers.
      • I'll preface this with the statement that I don't know anymore concrete details of Sony's plan than the rest of you, but here's my insights, be they valuable or not:

        "Grid" computing, at least in games, isn't so much of a distributed computing system, since the latency and bandwidth over the internet (or any network) wouldn't be sufficient to take care of any really critical game processing. As far as I can tell, it's more like a massive peer-to-peer multiplayer setup, as opposed to client-server: each ps2 takes some of the load of hosting the game, so that instead of being on the norrath4 server or whatever, you're on your ps2 plus the ones of those in your immediate area. You'd still need a significant overhead to run the entire system efficiently (a la napster's master servers) but the bulk of the workload would be taken on by the participants.

        Picture the old Unreal links (a super-cool idea that wasn't really ready for primetime), or the server links in Neverwinter Nights, but a little more seamless.

        Pretty smart way to run a MMORPG if you ask me.
  • OGSA for gamers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tom_conte (108067)
    The OGSA stuff is not necessarily about distributed computing, although the emphasis is certainly placed on this aspect in their docs.

    The basic service a Grid infrastructure can provide to gamers is "peer groups": you can discover groups of people willing to share a game online, and join their group, and chat and play with them, without having to log on to a central server.

    You could then imaging sharing add-ons and various other files with your peer group, again without using any central server.

    The next step would of course be sharing the actual CPU time of all the devices, for example to keep your characters "alive" even when your console is switched off. And then you'll receive an SMS whenever he gets attacked :-)
  • g`day... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by m1chael (636773)
    grid computing is unfeasible over long distances. maybe they mean when you take your ps3 to your friends house and network them. otherwise this grid computing sounds like sony's little internet.

  • by pridkett (2666) <slashdot@@@wagstrom...net> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @11:22AM (#5395902) Homepage Journal
    I've seen a ton of questions asking what Grid computing is. The most common one being how does it differ from parallel/distributed computing?

    First off, I highly suggest reading The anatomy of the Grid [globus.org] by Ian Foster et. al. It provides a pretty good overview into this whole Grid thing.

    But for the lazy, here's a little bit. The Grid is more than parallel computing. Typically with parallel/distributed computing the problem or resources are static or both. Grid allows both of these to change. In a nutshell, Grid computing means not having to worry about where the compute resources are. Just start a calculation and it gets done. Just like how you don't worry where your power comes from, you just plug in.

    The core of the Grid is virtual organizations. Under a VO, I could get together with a few friends and pool our resources. We could set up a registry and some factories (I'm speaking OGSA here, but whatever) and create some certificates. Then, we could submit jobs to the Grid and not have to worry about the resources that they're running on.

    GSI provides some really nifty security features (based on X.509 I believe). Basically you provide a mapping that allows other authorized users to run commands on your computer. When you're on the Grid you create a proxy for your certificate that is passed to the process that you run on this other computer. Then if that computer needs more resources, it can create another proxy certificate and delegate to another server.

    Also, Grid computing is more than just computing. There is data storage and instrumentation sharing also. You might want to check out PPDG [ppdg.net], GriPhyN [griphyn.org] and TeraGrid [teragrid.org] for examples of these systems.

    If you're interested in playing with the GRID, you can go download Globus Toolkit 3.0 Alpha [globus.org] or the Java CoG Kit [globus.org] which is a pure Java implementation of Globus 2.x (it's much easier to install than the regular Globus 2.2.x).
  • Or the ultimate WAN party. Have the guys at G4 [g4media.com] planned the first event yet?

    Ruger
  • Sort of off-topic but Nintendo is expected to announce games with online capabilities at E3... Nintendo could clean house with just one simple phrase:

    - MarioKart Online -

    And this IBM grid computing solution would be a great way to implement it.

    'nuff said.
  • by silvaran (214334) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @12:42PM (#5396749)
    I'm just taking a guess here. They brought the world EverCra^H^H^HQuest. It's hugely popular. Then they brought it to the Playstation 2. Sort of a proof of concept. Can we get regular home consumers to play EverQuest in their living room?. Now we have the head of the Playstation projects complaining that they're not going to have the technology to do what they want to do in the next generation of Playstation.

    So they have to resort to grid computing. I'm not talking about parallel computing, where all these computers work together to accomplish tasks in a linear fashion cut up over different computers.

    They've proved that online works with consoles (as have others, but anyways...). More and more people are getting broadband. Hard drives are a must to hold data, as a memory card is for game saves, not for world contents.

    This leads me to my next idea. Everybody gets a PS3, and it supports grid computing. You put the game in, and you plug YOUR WORLD into the online grid. People can visit your world. Take a game like The Sims (god forbid -- I haven't played EverQuest so I'll use The Sims). Everyone has a different house, and the connections are transparent. There is no central repository where everybody meets. Instead of people meeting at one place, they all go their separate ways and meet up with disparate lands housed mostly on a single person's PS2. You plug into the grid, your world, your contributions, your skills, your "power" (as in electricity, as an analogy) is fed to the entire grid, and everyone can benefit from it.

    No more arranging rendezvous points. You want to play with a friend, you go to his console online. Strangers walk by, and they aren't fed data from the server -- they're fed data from you. The server manages the protocols and game updates, but everyone who has the game contributes a piece of the puzzle. If one of your friends unplugs his machine from the grid, you lose a core piece of your game. No more lands stored on disc. They're all on the hard drive, and are created and grown by you to give to other people in an online experience.

    Or I could be full of shit. I know I'm going to regret not posting AC...
    • Very interesting idea. Sony would have to figure out how to deal with people shutting down their PS3 for evening, or would they? Maybe they expect to have enough online players at any particular time to have a complex, compelling game world. If you want to play with friends, you issue them an invite and schedule an online meeting time. Scary thought, though. You thought Evercrack was bad, having the Sims on PS3 in such a manner would ten times as addicting.
      • I suspect there's going to be some amount of redundancy to it, to keep people from just "unplugging" it when they're done playing. Sony might be so inclined as to encourage users to leave their Playstation on and hooked up all day (for those of us with unlimited monthly transfers on our bandwidth). Or if someone enters a level, this level is propagated to various other machines, and the communication is to keep all copies of that particular "piece" in sync. So if someone is knocked out, you can still rely on some data from other people who have been there (a little bit like multiple file sources on a P2P network).
  • While I'm sure that MMORPGs will benefit from this technology, I can't help but wonder if the real agenda at Sony is better game AI.

    From what I know (and I'm not a programmer), good AI is a real sticking point in games right now, and the computations are suited to parallell/grid computing.

    A console with across-the-board better AI and Sony's market share would be unstoppable.

    Jon Acheson
  • by lnixon (619827)

    Hmm, are they really going for OGSA? Wonder if they'll write their own implementation or build on the Globus toolkit like everybody else.

    Problem is, Globus 2 is notoriously buggy, and Globus 3, which supports OGSA, is written in Java and is really slow.

    Somehow I don't see millions of users on a platform like that.

  • It's easy to make too much of this, given the part that Grid promises to play in PS3. Butterfly's technology advantage is primarily that smaller developers can share processor power among their servers. Hence, it's cheaper for them to get into. It won't make games run better than they do as optimized on conventional servers by major publishers.
  • I've read only a little on Grid computing (the draft of the spec mainly), and I was wondering how a number of insidious situations are handled.

    From what I understand of the model of the grid service, requests recieved (be they for interfaces or references) may be handled locally by the service or forwarded to another service for handling.What happens if a ring of grid services forms in which requests are endlessly forwarded? I'll bet the dogma says that is an implementation problem, so I'll just say "ok", and move on.

    The Grid specification purposely separates interfaces from implementations. That being the case, any Joe could concievably author their own implementation. If any Joe should be an evil Joe, what's to stop malicious Joe from purposely creating malfunctioning interface implementations? In such a situation, a distributed calculation could certainly go awry. In fact, they way I see it, malicious Joe has free license to introduce "bugs" into a distributed application. Before you say, "security and authentication layers, blah blah" remember malicious Joe can take a valid node implementation, and insert his own execute code any damn place he pleases.

    Here's the main problem as I see it... by running a distributed application, you run the inherent risk that code is being run on a foreign system, and there is no practical way to guarantee that system is friendly. Outside of requiring a "web of trust" certificate scheme (specifically designed to exclude ALL untrusted nodes), I don't see how such a system could survive against malicious attack. To achieve some of the pipe dreams laid out in this thread of creating world-wide natural language processors and the like, you'd need a critical mass of *trusted* nodes. So, who can you trust?

    If this thought is flawed, please flame it. I'm emotionally detached.
  • Think about the types of systems that a game has.

    1) World, Avatar, and Prop Rendering - The grid is not helpful at ALL here. 0 of 10

    2) Network communications - The grid could possiblely help with more secure P2P communications - Low score here. 1 of 10

    3) AI - The one possilbe place where it could be helpful, but ONLY in limited cases. I would propose two types of AI.
    A) Realtime - These are things that you are interacting with, due to possilbe lag and job scheduling delays, I dont see much opportunity here. - 1 of 10
    B) Near Realtime - This would be a good fit. The character that no one is interacting with could do smart things, BUT who cares! You are not interacting with them! 3 of 10

    4) P2P resource distribution - Another possible target, but no one does this now, and the possability of getting copyrighted materials on your machine will discourage most folks I think.
    4 of 10

    5) General Instruction Processing - WAY too Slow!

    Total score as I see it for the usefulness of grid computing in games 10 of 50. DO NOT DEPLOY at this time!
  • How would you feel finding yourself stuck in a traffic jam on the "Swiss Alps" race track on the Gran Turismo???? Engine idling, you would just sit back and start switching over radio stations. Very lifelike.

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