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Games Entertainment Hardware

Technology Of Current, Future Consoles Analyzed 44

Posted by simoniker
from the technology-is-big-and-complicated dept.
ban25 writes "There's an interesting article at Ace's Hardware with an in-depth analysis of the technology behind the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube, plus hints to the future. It covers the CPUs and GPUs of each of the systems, and also has an interesting discussion about embedded DRAM and its role in consoles compared to the high-speed discrete memories found on all of today's top PC graphics cards. The other part of the article covers the next generation of systems and, in particular, the Xbox 2 and PS3. The recent IBM/MS agreement is discussed, as well as the chances of the Xbox 2 having a PowerPC inside, or perhaps even a CELL derivative. On the PS3 side of things, the piece goes into some detail about the patent that turned up last year on CELL."
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Technology Of Current, Future Consoles Analyzed

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  • by Kethinov (636034) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @04:26PM (#7719576) Homepage Journal
    Why can't console makers start making their high profile games for the PC? I'd love to be able to play Metroid Prime or Final Fantasy 10 on my computer and no matter how good those games are I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting. I realize that I'm in the minority, but I think there'd be profit in this.
    • by Nasarius (593729) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @04:40PM (#7719689)
      Because they sell a lot more to console gamers than PC gamers. It's just not worth changing all your code, except maybe for XBox games, which use DirectX.
      • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @08:12PM (#7721048) Homepage Journal
        ..and that's where it's heading already quite fast, doing almost everything on high level languages and through libraries provided by hw maker, so there's less and less lowlevel freaking with newer consoles and going to be even less with the coming crop of new consoles. so basically what this ends up in if you're smart when doing the design decisions is that you don't lose anything by going with doing the game so that it will be very easy to port.

        however, as artificial limitations on where you release the game have already shown up i don't think they'll ever release all the games on all the systems(even if porting it was just one day effort by one guy). many current games come now though with release for all ps2,xbox,gc and pc(with these games the marketing seems to be the biggest budget hurdle though, so it makes only sense to sell it for every system at the same time).

    • by GaimeGuy (679917) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @04:49PM (#7719757) Journal
      Uh, because there'd be pretty much no point in buyinig consoles if all the great console games were on the PC. Plus, it's not worth it to change the code for the PC, and then release it, when games don't sell nearly as well on the PC as they do on consoles. A title selling 700,000 on the PC is like a title selling a couple million on a console. It just isn't worth it to spend the resources to port console games to PC and give the consoles less value.
      • A title selling 700,000 on the PC is like a title selling a couple million on a console.

        I don't understand. Are you saying margins are better on the PC? Or are you saying that, given equivalent marketing dollars, the PC sells less units?

        And are the two circles really similar sets, or somewhat disjoint? I.e., if you release for both, might you sell a couple million on the console and 700,000 on the PC?

        • Yes, margins are better on the PC. On consoles, publishers pay royalties to the console maker (sony, nintendo, microsoft) on all their titles. This isn't the case on PC.
    • Are you kidding? Every PC game on the shelf at Best Buy has a PS2/X-Box counterpart. Halo, UT2003, Max Payne 1 and 2, KOTOR, etc. The list goes on and on.
      • That's not what he was talking about. This is about a console game FIRST, such as Final Fantasy X or Metroid, being ported to PC. The ones you mentioned were PC games being ported to consoles, which happens all the time. Not EVERYONE has computers powerful enough to run all these neat new games, including myself, so there's a market in getting people to get them on a console when they couldn't otherwise play it.
      • Actually, on your list, they all have an XBOX counterpart.

        This is not a coincidence.
    • ...no matter how good those games are I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.

      More limiting than not even being able to play those games at all?

      Consoles may be limited compared to the latest and greatest PCs, but their beauty is that they're stable platforms for both developers and users. Developers don't have to worry about getting their games to run well on an impossibly-wide range of hardware combinations, users don't have to stuff in faster processors and extra memory and download week-old

    • Why do you consider game consoles to be too limiting? I used to prefer PC over the console, but that was 10 years ago.
    • by Mike Mentalist (544984) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @05:14PM (#7719970) Homepage
      I'd love to be able to play Metroid Prime or Final Fantasy 10 on my computer and no matter how good those games are I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.

      Sorry, but this makes absolutely no sense at all. In what way is a console limiting? It plays games as that is what it was designed for.

      A TV is no different in that respect and neither is a chair or a cheese sandwich.

      • A TV is no different in that respect and neither is a chair or a cheese sandwich.

        I find my cheese sandwiches very limiting. They take a lot of work to cook just right, and I can't have them and eat them too.

    • I would say that you, and the two other guys who think this might have a problem convincing the game developers of this. If you want to play games like Metroid Prime, Zelda, Ratchet & Clank etc. etc. You would have to buy a console. Besides, consoles in my book are becoming more and more like a PC. The PS2 has a broadband adapter and a harddrive, the gamecube has a broadban adapter for net play. And don't even get me started on the Xbox. Maybe this is what they want, move games more and more away from
      • The Gamecube has a total of 1 series that works with the broadband adapter (Phantasy Star Online)...unless you're talking about the Warp-pipe project...
        • The games that work with warpipe all work with the broadband adapter just fine on their own. They just are designed for LAN play only and not internet.
          Besides the discussion was about current and future console hardware.
          • You obviously don't understand what I was referring to. Please RTFP.
            • You said that Phantasy Star Online was the only game that made use of the broadband adapter, ignoring the Warp Pipe project. This is incorrect. Mario Kart also makes use of the broadband adapter for LAN play, without use of the Warp Pipe project. You see, you didn't say Phantasy Star Online was the only game to use the broadband adapter for Internet play. You said it was the only game to use the broadband adapter, end of statement. So, you were incorrect. The person who responded to you was correct. Your ru
              • I'm sorry I have to completely spell everything out for you, but many speakers of the English language apparently don't get implied meaning very well. PSO is the only series that is an "online" game. When I say "broadband adapter," what I mean is "broadband," not "lan," although it obviously means that as well, but that wording is obviously somewhat ambiguous.

                The original reply to my post was at least as jackassish as you imply mine was, and yes, I get somewhat pissed when people extract some sort of str
                • You sad little simpleton,
                  Look here: when I said "You said that Phantasy Star Online was the only game that made use of the broadband adapter, ignoring the Warp Pipe project." that last bit about the Warp Pipe project was referring to the fact that you were ignoring the Warp Pipe project for your summary of what games made use of the broadband adapter. This is quite obvious and cannot be taken any other way since I begin that statement very specifically by saying, "You said." Next up...

                  Your original post m

        • The only reason for the limit on net-games for the Game Cube is that Nintendo dosn't want to support net-play since they don't find the technology good enough yet.
    • by cgranade (702534) <cgranade AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @06:18PM (#7720394) Homepage Journal
      I find consoles much less limiting, since game makers can make assuptions about what's going on and just focus on the game. On a PS1/2/X, for example, everyone has a controller with four triggers, four shoulder buttons, two analogs (excepting early PS1s) and four directions, plus a start-select pair. No need to detect if there's a joystick or keyboard or what. Furthermore, all PS2s are equally compatible, so the game makers don't have to "scale down" graphics for less capable systems.
      The end result? Less time spent on interface details and hardware detection, and more time spent making good games.
      • by Alaric42 (50725) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @07:53PM (#7720934)
        "Furthermore, all PS2s are equally compatible. . . ."

        Tell that to Enix and Namco and their Star Ocean 3 and Xenosaga, respectively, both of which ran into problems with some models of PS2s being incompatible because of changes Sony introduced into later runs.
        • OK, maybe they're not all COMPATIBLE, but they all have the same processor speed and shit. Try running UT2003 on a Pentium II with 400 mHz of speed (which isn't all that old, really).
          • Try running UT2003 on a Pentium II with 400 mHz of speed (which isn't all that old, really).
            Hmm, a Pentium II CPU clocked at 0.4 Hz? I'd rather use an IBM PC with shiny 4.7 MHz.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        On a PS1/2/X, for example, everyone has a controller with four triggers, four shoulder buttons, two analogs (excepting early PS1s) and four directions, plus a start-select pair. No need to detect if there's a joystick or keyboard or what.

        On a PC, people have the freedom to choose whatever style of controller they want, instead of being limited to what the console designers liked. DirectInput abstracts away most hardware differences, so all game designers need to do is provide an interface for controller
        • If only game publishers would release all their titles on the PC, they could experience the freedom of programming to the API instead of the hardware, and we could experience some really innovative gaming.

          Nice theory, but all the PC game developers I've worked with end up spending the first part of the project programming to the API and the second part tracking down hardware incompatibilities. I know more than one game with code filled with stuff like:

          #if (NVIDIA)
          DoThisGraphicsTrick()
          #elif (ATI)
          Do
      • "No need to detect if there's a joystick or keyboard or what" A computer without a keyboard is like a console without a controller. "PS2s are equally compatible, so the game makers don't have to "scale down" graphics for less capable systems." Only problem here is that consoles are the less capable system when it comes to graphics. PC games can scale to much higher resolutions than consoles can even at the highest supported HDTV standard.
    • If they ported all the games to PC, it would defeat the point of consoles.
    • I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.

      What do you think a game console is for? Cleaning your dishes?
      I find desktop computers too limiting. Yeah, I can surf the internet, write letters and so on, but in my opinion ALMOST ALL CURRENT PC GAMES SUCK. I don't need 374732 tactical ego shooters. I don't need as many sport games.
      That's why I bought a GameCube. I want fun games - not the same crap over and over again. In this autumn/winter season more great games have been and will be released for Gam
      • by Jad LaFields (607990) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @10:23PM (#7721801)
        That's neat... you just entirely missed his point. Or angrily made it for him while insulting him. If he wanted to play "374732 tactical ego shooters" then he wouldn't be complaining about console game makers not porting their software like "Metroid Prime or Final Fantasy 10", would he? Dumbass.

        And to throw my own two cents in about the "limitations" of consoles that some people have been complaining about: I remember eagerly awaiting the port of GTA: Vice City to the PC after playing it on a friend's PS2 -- I already have a decent computer (its over 3 years old, but runs modern PC games fine) so I wasn't about to run out and buy a PS2 (and hell, I guess I'd need a TV, too) just to play the game. Anyway, once I got it, I realized that it really feels like the game was meant to be played on a computer. I could crank the resolution to the max, up the texture detail, aim with a mouse which is so much better than the stupid aiming system on the PS2 (which takes absolutely no skill), no loading times.... I can't play the game on my friend's PS2 anymore, it's too painful. What's more, if I were so inclined I could go and download the multiplayer mod for the game (which may be only for GTA3, don't remember).

        Yes, there are limitations to the PC, most notably the QA nightmare that so many different setups creates, but having "all current PC games" suck shouldn't be one of them. Sure, Soul Caliber 2 would be crap without a gamepad... but I'd immediately go out and buy one if they released the game for the PC.

        Damn, imagine if they had designed that game like the best PC developers do and make it easily moddable (and maybe they did, I don't know). Imagine if they had a simple scripting engine you could use to make up new moves and combos... or if you could go to some site and download new skins, costumes, or even new fighters that enterprising players created?

        Consoles are moving in this direction, with hard drives and internet access, but they are not there yet. And until they are, it would be nice if more developers took advantage of the strengths that the PC platform has.
    • Why can't console makers start making their high profile games for the PC? #snip# I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.
      This is exactly the reason why these games are console only. There are too many varaitions between PC hardware for the developers to handle. The cost of testing a cutting edge game on all the combinations of hardware that it could be expected to run on was getting far too expensive. I recall a comment made by a manager at a large game developer (Activision iirc) saying
    • They're too limiting.

      $100 for a console is limiting?

      Think of it as an external self-contained special graphics card and a joystick; by that measure, even the X-Box at full price is a good deal.
    • I'd love to be able to play Metroid Prime or Final Fantasy 10 on my computer and no matter how good those games are I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.

      Sound's like your PC is the thing holding you back from playing the games you wanna play. Even if you think a console is limiting, they're cheaper than graphics cards, and they have a longer life-cycle. Maybe you should think of picking one up.
    • Taking a console game and making it run on PC is usually very feasible from a purely technical point of view. There are, however, four things that stand in the way of turning a console game into a PC game.

      Firstly, the art is designed for 640x480 on a TV. This means it usually looks bad at 1024x768 on a PC monitor and PC gamers react very negatively to bad art because they spend a bunch of money on their systems in order to have their games look as beautiful as possible.

      Secondly, the game is designed to be
    • I'd love to be able to play Metroid Prime or Final Fantasy 10 on my computer and no matter how good those games are I'd never buy a game console. They're too limiting.

      Yeah, they're limitted to playing the games you really really want to play.. how sucky of them.
  • There's the same ol' same ol' in most of those.... They point at "more power", well duh. Of course systems are going to get more and more powerful, otherwise I'd wait for things to come out still on my good ol' Atari 2600.

    What we really need is a revolution in gaming technology for the console. Something that provides a new level of interactivity, be it from a 3D projection, to a Virtual Helmet set. ANYTHING would be an improvement over the joystick games of current. I mean look at it this way, we've ha
    • I doubt you will see (at least in the near future) 3D projection, and you will probably never see a VR HMD setup.

      Back in 1995, when the Sega Genesis was all the rage, along with the hope (hype?) of VR, Sega actually had a prototype HMD system. Everyone in the homebrew and consumer VR realm was a-goggle, with the idea of a cheap and hackable VR HMD with full 3DOF mag-tracking capabilities. It never saw the light of day (though some people own the prototypes today). Why?

      Mainly, one word: liability.

      HMDs presen

  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hookedup (630460) on Monday December 15, 2003 @11:43AM (#7725478)
    The future of the xbox has many unknowns, latest rumor going around is the xbox2 will have a proprietary disc format, much like the GC's. Why you ask? To prevent piracy.

    According to an ad on microsofts career website, the Microsoft's Xbox team is seeking an engineer "to manage the design and development of the Xbox Game Disc for the next generation Xbox console", with the job description going on to mention anti-piracy as the first in a list of key factors for the new game disc specification.

    Article here [theregister.co.uk] about it

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