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Elite Won't Replace Premium or Core Skus 158

Posted by Zonk
from the get-thee-behind-me dept.
As the day has progressed, more information about the 'Elite' has become available. GamesIndustry.biz is reporting that the other two 360 skus will still be available. The Elite is not replacing either of them. Interestingly, there's no word on a price drop for them either. Major Nelson's most recent podcast has several interviews and details about the new offering, which you may find informative. There's more analysis available, if you find that interesting: CVG wonders aloud who is going to buy this thing, while a Wedbush Morgan analyst mentioned to GamesIndustry.biz that he thinks this validates the PS3 strategy. "'It appears to me that Microsoft sees the writing on the wall - Blu-ray is going to win the format wars ... Ultimately, Microsoft will likely offer a Blu-ray drive with the 360 Elite, and I think consumers will be able to select based solely upon other drivers.' Pachter also believes that although the Xbox 360 Elite will register with early adopters of hi-def content, the current 20GB model will still be sufficient for many consumers."
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Elite Won't Replace Premium or Core Skus

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:47PM (#18519447)
    470 dollars for the 360 itself
    100 dollars for WiFi
    200 dollars for the HD-DVD addon
    50 dollars a year to play games online - 250 dollars over five years

    There are no hardware changes other than the addition of the HDMI digital connection - so all of the existing hardware defects will exist with this model. The move to 65nm has been delayed to later this year. So you sure as hell better pay for an extended warranty.

    And that is not including all the little things like chargers that Microsoft is nickel and diming Xbox owners with.

    You are looking at spending ~820-1020 on this system over five years. WTF are they smoking up in Redmond?

  • Disappointed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:52PM (#18519509) Journal
    Disappointed that this is a worse value than the PS3. I have a 360. I gave one to my brother and to my sister; I was thinking about handing mine off to my mom and getting the Elite, but it almost isn't worth it.

    I guess I'm just repeating the normal mantra: needs the HD-DVD built in and Wireless built in. Right now it's 480+200+100. I find the price of the little wireless device most eggregious even now and wonder why there are not third party devices out there that can do the wireless.

  • Re:PS3 Advantage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BeansBaxter (918704) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:23PM (#18519907)
    I find it very interesting that in this generation people are concerned about needing more than a dual layer dvd to store game content. I don't work in the industry but I have to think that filling 9Gigs of data is a pretty impressive and expensive feet. I imagine development costs will be much higher for a game that requires that amount of space. Packaging it on one really expensive new Blu Ray disk or multiple easy to press DVD's is probably the least of the worries.
  • Re:PS3 Advantage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:57PM (#18520391)

    If the PS3 survives its games will end up looking a lot more impressive than 360 games of the same vintage.
    Now that is funny.
    The PS3 just had the greatest console launch in history in Europe.
    No, the PS3 just had the best European launch of a console. That is not the same as "the best launch in history" with an implied comma and then "in Europe."

    The PS3 is selling at a faster rate in the US.
    That statement is meaningless. Faster than what? Faster than in Europe or Japan? Faster than the Wii?

    People are asking who do they have to kill to get into the Home beta.
    Only people at least as demented as you. And presumably as young or younger than you.

    Every single developer who supported the 115+ million selling PS2 is making games for the PS3.
    That is not saying much. What matters is how many games they are making for the PS3, and how many are exclusive to the PS3, as compared with the development scene for the 360 and to a lesser extent, the Wii.

    Sony's first party developer lineup is stronger than both Nintendo and Microsoft combined - there are over 150 first party games alone in development.
    Finally, some good (though uncited) information. But still, I have to wonder how many of those games will make it to the market, and how many are at all original. And you failed to provide any data about Microsoft and Nintendo to back up your claim that the are not being as prolific game developers.

    Even PC developers are looking to the PS3 for their games as the pc game market continues to die.
    That sure seems to be a totally baseless claim. In fact, I think it is probably totally wrong. First of all, not many developers would go through the trouble of porting a game from the PS3 to a platform that is dying faster. Second, the PC gaming market is not dying. Third, the portion of the PC gaming market that is composed of PS3 ports is, and always will be, very small.

    The PS3 has turned out to be the most reliable console ever made.
    By what measure? Sure, it seems to have gotten much less press about it's problems than the 360, but that doesn't make it the gold standard. Certainly the hardware can't be all that reliable, given the extreme complexity compared to the other consoles on the market. For example, the Cell processor in the PS3 has an SPU disabled because they can't produce the whole processor at mature yields. And the PS3 has not been on the market long enough to compare with, say, the GameCube. Also, with the exception of the wrist strap issue arising from improper but foreseeable usage, I expect the Wii to be the most reliable of the consoles, given the simplicity of its hardware and the fact that it is mostly already proven.

    Yeah, if the PS3 'survives'...
    The PS3 is by no means destined to come out on top or even in second. No games for any of the three platforms are out yet that were developed after feedback from the launch titles. And they still have been on the market for less than a year. For a product with an expected lifetime of at least five years, this is way too early to be making judgments with that level of confidence.

    Oh wait. You are referring to how Sony had to divert manufacturing capacity in last month from the US to Europe for the launch and there were low NPD numbers...
    It has been well documented that the PS3 has been in excess supply in many of the biggest markets in the US. With or without the European launch, Sony needed to divert production capacity away from the US. And I have yet to see any evidence that that diversion has caused any shortages in the US.
  • by Xest (935314) * on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:17PM (#18520637)
    MS wants to get the new iteration of their 360 hardware out the door that is, the cooler, quieter and cheaper to produce iteration.

    Whilst cheaper to produce however, MS will still initially make a loss until they're shipping en-masse. Therefore, I'd say MS is releasing the elite with the new hardware iteration as a method to ship said new hardware without taking as high a monetary loss. Essentially, what this means is that they're using the elite as a tool to bring down cost of production of the new hardware iteration, so that 6months down the line, they can start building the premium version with the new hardware so cheap that they can announce a massive price drop on the core and premium.

    Whilst the Elite may indeed look like an idiotic short term decision, if this is their plan then by the end of the year you could see MS shifting the 360 perhaps even as cheap as the Wii is currently. This is something Sony wont be able to compete with any time soon, they've already shafted backwards compatibility in the name of reducing production costs for the European release of the PS3, by xmas 2007 year I'd be suprised if the PS3 had dropped at all, but again, I bet the 360 is selling for current Wii prices. As an aside, I'd guess the Wii will be cheaper again by then, Nintendo is shifting so many units and never made a loss per-unit in the first place so a price cut would be an easy hit for them by xmas 2007.

    I don't know US prices off by heart, but my prediction for xmas 2007 console prices in the UK is something like:
    Wii - £149.99
    360 Core - £169.99 (or possibly even written off altogether)
    360 Premium - £199.99
    PS3 60gb - £399.99
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:42PM (#18521805)
    (1) They both have 512MB, but the OS on the PS3 permanently takes a much bigger slice of that, something like 128MB?? vs 32MB used permanently by the OS on the 360.
    (2) The 360 has symmetric multiprocessors--3 dual-core PPC chips that use the same memory heirarchy, caches etc. That's 6 in-order execution pipes. Compare that to the PS3 which has *one* general processor pipe and *7* (not 8) SPUs which are basically DSPs. One of those SPUs is permanently reserved to the OS so you only get to use 6 of them. The SPUs have a stupendously tiny amount of RAM each (128 KB or something?) so you have to shuffle data back and forth from the main RAM with DMA in order to get anything done. That transfer can be fast but its still often a bottleneck.
    (3) The 360 is pretty flexible about letting you use any of your 480MB as graphics memory or for non-graphics stuff. The PS3 requires a fixed division. This combined with the OS memory usage means that when porting 360 games to the PS3, we usually divide all our texture sizes by 2.
    (4) The 360 has 48 unified pixel/vertex pipes. If you game heavily uses vertex shaders, more of the pipes will be doing vertexes at any one time, and if it heavily uses pixel shaders, more of them will be doing that--but you can easily get near-100% utilization of the hardware. The PS3 has classic dedicated pipes (I don't know how many) so you still have to balance that usage like you have to on PC video cards.
    (5) The Microsoft devkits are not perfect, but they are really good -- much better than Nintendo's and 1000x better than Sony's.

    The combination of these things means the Xbox360 is MUCH easier to program for, MUCH easier to port existing console or PC graphics engines to, and in general easier for developers to extract the power from.

    I predict it will be at least 2 years before we see PS3 games that rival the best Xbox360 games in graphical quality and performance.
  • Re:PS3 Advantage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:03PM (#18522075)
    The people who are hurt the most by this are the JRPG companies who just explode with FMVs, blue dragon is a 3 dvd game, other then them I've heard no complaints about the size of the media. Hell, The only reasons they are filling up Blu-rays are they are using "stupid" tricks like uncompressed audio for Metal gear solid.

    No, there are plenty of other reasons. Localization for example - being able to offer the same game in multiple locales from the same disk. Something which is very important in the EU, or even when considering US / JP titles. Aside from that extra capacity means more content, levels, or if you prefer just the ability to duplicate data to lessen seek times and ensure it loads faster.

    Simply put, companies don't have to use that extra capacity, but neither is there some barrier blocking their path when they get close to DVD-9's limits. Which many games already manage to get close to.

    I just have a simple question. Now that both systems are out, and we already have seen that the 360's dvd has a higher read speed then the ps3's blu-ray device (overall blu-ray SHOULD be faster, but in these two actual system the 360's drive is faster).

    So says you. Most other people appear to think that Blu-Ray has a slight edge but both systems are mostly comparable.

    Why are you using larger files sizes rather then using the "extra" power of the ps3 to uncompress these files? The simple answer is no, the ps3 isn't that powerful (Insomniac today claims you have 8 cores? funny we only have access to 6 cores).

    Insomniac did not say that. It said "The PS3's eight parallel CPUs (one primary "PPU" and seven Cell processors) give it potentially far more computing power than the three parallel CPUs in the Xbox 360". What is incorrect about that statement?

    As for compression, compression only gets you so far. Sure you could zip everything up or make textures and sound more lossy. Lots of games probably do it already simply because it may work out slightly faster than reading uncompressed from disk. But there comes a point where with all the compression in the world you still have more content than you can fit on the disk. What do you do then? Do you cut levels, or textures, or models, go multi-disk or expect people to do sizable downloads to get the content?

    In the end blu-ray isn't going to be the answer. Sony's system has some good marks, but blu-ray isn't necessary, and the Cell processor is doing more to hurt the developer than it is helping it.

    There is nothing particularly hard about programming the Cell. Any software engineer worth their salt (i.e. the kind responsible for writing game engines, optimized code etc.), should be able to master it easily enough and the people doing periphery stuff like menu systems shouldn't have to care. SPU programming is little removed from multi-threading and most of the principles can be carried over to it.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:18PM (#18522279)
    (2) The 360 has symmetric multiprocessors--3 dual-core PPC chips that use the same memory heirarchy, caches etc. That's 6 in-order execution pipes. Compare that to the PS3 which has *one* general processor pipe and *7* (not 8) SPUs which are

    Correction, the 360 has 3 multi-threaded cores (think hyperthreading), and the Cell has 1 multi-threaded core plus 7 SPUs. That means the optimal arrangement for the PS3 is to have one general execution thread and perhaps another thread responsible for farming out work to the SPUs. The 360's optimal arrangement is to have 6 threads running at once.

    Either way the programming challenges are pretty similar - feeding all the threads / SPUs with data and collecting the results. Ultimately the differences are interesting but not really that important compared to the number crunching that a typical game requires. Any game which is heavy with shading, transformations or physics will perform better if written for the Cell than it will for the Xenon processor, simply because SPUs are basically number shovels.

    The combination of these things means the Xbox360 is MUCH easier to program for, MUCH easier to port existing console or PC graphics engines to, and in general easier for developers to extract the power from.

    I suspect that DirectX has more to do with the ease of porting PC titles than anything else with the devkit. But as most games sensibly choose to abstract their rendering behind an API (e.g. Renderware, Unreal or proprietary in-house engines), I doubt it makes as much difference as Microsoft would wish. More important to good performance is ensuring that these middleware APIs are properly optimized for the platforms they run on. An example of that might be the PhysX engine which claimed 10x speed improvements in some areas when they released 4.5 which was SPU optimized.

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