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Portables (Games) Wireless Networking Hardware

PSP Wi-Fi Impairs Processor Speed 57

Posted by Zonk
from the interesting-design-choice dept.
GameDaily reports that the PlayStation Portable has an interesting restriction: its full processor power cannot be utilized at the same time as its WiFi functionality. Therefore, games that are played online cannot make use of the chip's 333mhz processor speed. The original finding from Beyond 3D was confirmed to GameDaily by Sony. Dave Karraker, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications: "The recent firmware upgrade (3.50) that removed the restriction on the PSP's CPU speed enables developers to utilize speeds either lower or higher than the default 222MHz, up to the full 333MHz clock speed. The article is correct that increased CPU speed cannot be used with the PSP's wireless feature." Though speculation is that this is a power-saving decision, there has been no official announcement as to the root cause.
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PSP Wi-Fi Impairs Processor Speed

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  • It just goes to show - when Sony puts their top minds in a room, there's nothing they can do.

    (Hey, lets face it, despite this exact article being a Sony "fuckup", one could apply my comment above to pretty much ANY company)
    • They bring their bean counters and market droids in to decide how to make a product - the same fools that are spiraling Sony into an all too American "fiscal quarter by fiscal quarter" style of corporate myopia.

      Sony's (and other companies') top minds do the bidding of these bean counters and market droids.

      Small, agile companies are the ones who let their top minds steer the product development ship.
  • Though speculation is that this is a power-saving decision, there has been no official announcement as to the root cause.

    I would think that the root cause would be the network stack and packet processing overhead that occurs when the item is networked... but I am just thinking like an engineer here...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MeanMF (631837)
      Processing overhead would explan reduced game performance, but not the need for a lower clock speed.
      • They might be intentionally reducing the clock speed to prevent reduced game performance.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 13, 2007 @06:27PM (#20217807) Homepage
        Yeah. I'm thinking power consumption is by far the most likely cause. Of course I don't have any numbers for how much power an actively transmitting wifi chip uses, or the PSP's processor at various frequencies. However given the power budgets of portable devices, I'm guessing the answer is "a lot, relatively" in both cases.

        If the PSP processor requires a higher voltage to run at 333MHz, then I'd say this answer is a shoe-in. Power scales linearly with frequency, so going from 222MHz to 333 is a 50% increase in power. But it scales with the square of voltage, so if a higher voltage is needed to run at the higher frequency then that could increase the power requirement of the CPU such that there is no power budget left for the wifi.

        Other possibilities? I dunno... a wonky synchronizer between the wifi and cpu clock domains that makes a bad assumption about wifi chip vs cpu/bus speed? I've certainly seen that happen, but I'm really guessing as to whether it applies to the psp or not.
    • by jnik (1733)
      That would be true if the were simply "The PSP is slower when networked". However, the actual clock speed of the processor is decreased.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      You do realize that's exactly backwards, right? If the overhead is an issue, they would need MORE processor speed, not less.

      When the speed is reduced, it's not like it's still running full speed but only using 2/3 of it... it's running at 2/3 speed.
    • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday August 13, 2007 @05:56PM (#20217443)
      or it maybe that when the cpu is running at 333 the system bus is running to fast for the wi-fi chip like how when you overclock the FSB on older MB's the pci bus and other buses speed up as well to a point where it is too fast for the cards / chips on that bus.
      • by jandrese (485)
        Yeah, this seems like a more likely explanation than the battery issue. It's better than my thought that maybe the wireless driver needs a lot of CPU so when it's actually in use the clock is silently boosted in the background to compensate.
      • Good call! This definately makes sense. Someone mod parent up as insightful.
  • Perspective Please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530)
    Untill recently, the clock speed was only 222, now they have upgraded it so it can go to the full speed of 333mhz, however, you can't do this while running the wi-fi. People have not found a floor, just a limit to the extra given in the new update, everything was working fine at 222mhz and no one complained about slowness so you should have no problems on the wi-fi, there just wont be the extra snapiness, sony probably only did this to save battery or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      Untill recently, the clock speed was only 222, now they have upgraded it so it can go to the full speed of 333mhz, however, you can't do this while running the wi-fi. People have not found a floor, just a limit to the extra given in the new update, everything was working fine at 222mhz and no one complained about slowness so you should have no problems on the wi-fi, there just wont be the extra snapiness, sony probably only did this to save battery or something.

      Except if the game needs the full speed (the b

      • It's the battery life, WiFi eats power like no tomorrow, even with the new battery. 333Mhz also eats power, using both would chew through even the new battery sooner than one would want
  • by G Fab (1142219) on Monday August 13, 2007 @05:52PM (#20217405)
    I mean yeah, some of y'all don't like Sony and point out everything that happens with this company as though it's a "fuckup" (to take an above commenter's description of this limitation). But it's a fact that the wifi being on didn't slow down any PSPs on any game ever published. The spin here may be tough for some to see through, but to fac tis simple, all PSP games were running at a set speed of 222 mhz. These games could have wifi on or off. I presume that somehow there is a power limitation or something other limitation that means you can't run full speed with wifi. I'm sure this isn't design flaw, unless you think every system that could be faster is designed poorly (and virtually every system could be faster). You have to engineer these things. This announcement is that Sony has now INCREASED the processor speed for non wifi applications. It's a bit of GOOD NEWS. I mean, whoop dee do, who cares, but still, this isn't bad news for anyone. It adds a capability that wasn't there in the past. But here's the spin "WIFI IMPAIRS THE PSP PROCESSOR!!!! NICE DESIGN CHOICE HAHAHA!!!" So strange to twist things that radically. I just don't get the whacky spinning. What did Sony do to deserve this special treatment? I'm sincerely curious. Sony has been pretty cool about Linux on its systems so long as it doesn't lead to pirated games. Sony is always pushing things to add features and be innovative... often valuing cool novel features over functionality. That's how we get new cool stuff. Everybody out there uses something Sony invented. Things as basic as optical discs and modern batteries were developed or improved by Sony. I would think Slashdot would have a lot of people who like Sony because it's got cool stuff. Albeit the nice stuff is too expensive. This seems like more than a economic issue. Some of you, and obviously the editor, have a real axe to grind. Reading through these threads, some dude was modded a troll for a single sentence saying "The Cell processor is a really cool piece of technology!" Anyway, I'd like to hear what the real issue is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Babbster (107076)
      That's some pretty serious schilling there. Sony hasn't been "cool" about anything homebrew on the PSP (the device under discussion), doing everything they can to disable it with each firmware update.

      I could have agreed with you that this isn't a big PSP problem, except maybe in the sense that a developer might make a game without WiFi capability because they decide the increased CPU speed is more important. However, attempting to portray Sony as a poor, hapless, open-source-friendly victim of evil anti
      • by w3dg (1079833)
        Go to the PSP forums at Sony and say that. They let users discuss Homebrew usage all the time. It's a security flaw they are required to patch for the lowest common denominator, meaning the average dipshit who doesn't know much about much and will download anything that says "This will do this" on it and then brick the psp. You aren't forced to upgrade firmware, so I don't see them doing everything they can to disable it.
        • by Drey (1420)
          If you want to play new non-homebrew games, you /are/ required to upgrade the firmware -- newer titles contain requirements for newer firmware.
          • by donaldm (919619)
            Err no! The latest Sony firmware is 3.52 while the latest homebrew is 3.51 and if the latest game has a firmware update (eg. Twisted Metal had firmware 1.52) it won't install that firmware if you have later release homebrew firmware. You actually have to do this yourself manually, firmware from a game does not install automatically. Actually people who do homebrew are people who in the majority of case will keep their PSP up to date with the latest homebrew firmware.

            This is not to say I am an advocate of
      • by donaldm (919619)
        Sony hasn't been "cool" about anything homebrew on the PSP (the device under discussion), doing everything they can to disable it with each firmware update.

        To be fair if Sony does not try to disable "homebrew" with every firmware update then I can see massive litigation by companies like Nintento and Sega since with "homebrew" is is very easy to to play NES, SNES, Sega Master System and Megadrive games just to name a few. I can see Sony Execs turning to Nintendo and Sega saying "Well it's not our fault
        • by Applekid (993327)
          Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation for stamping out homebrew is that an owner spending time on a homebrew game isn't spending time on a game that earned them any money. Also, opening the doors for homebrew also opens the doors for copy protection circumvention and, again, no earned money on game time.

          Sony doesn't make emulators for competing systems and there's not a wick of litigation that could even be twisted to suggest that.

          Remember Net Yaroze? How about Linux for the PS2? Both given blessings to t
          • by apoc06 (853263)
            so why is it free and relatively so easy to install linux on the ps3?
            • by Applekid (993327)
              Free and relatively easy under hypervisor. You don't have access to the important bits to do anything that threatens their game sales model.

              There is a great difference between playing with the sand on a beach and playing with the sand in a sandbox, after all.
              • by apoc06 (853263)
                my main point was that linux on the ps3 is free.

                also, im sure that if you can provide a better way to enable linux on the ps3 AND prevent people from creating ISO loaders or disk validity bypasses, sony would love to hear from you.

                if people dont really care about that, well maybe all they wanted was the ability to play pirated games in the first place, and no one really cared about having linux anyways.
        • by mikkelm (1000451)

          With regard to WiFi limiting the PSP to 222MHz I am not sure that this is a major problem. Too many people think that MHz or even GHz is a deciding factor in processor performance. It is not since you can have a 1GHz processor that can handle 5 to 10 threads that will outperform a 3GHz single threaded processor. There are many factors you have to take into account when looking as all over computer performance.

          That only works on different processors with different architectures. Or are you trying to say th

      • by G Fab (1142219)
        You've got a point about the paragraphs. My comment is very difficult to read. My bad, dude. I didn't realize I would need to use the paragraph tags.

        As far as the shilling goes, I'm not shilling at all. I don't favor Sony over other similar companies whatsoever. You're the shill. In fact, you're acting totally insane. To you, people pointing out what's good about Sony must be die-hard Sony shills. Isn't it possible that companies like Nintendo, Samsung, Sony, and others that have cool products are j
        • by Babbster (107076)
          I had a really long post all written and ready to go, but I decided there was no point. Here's the short version:

          A) I AGREED WITH YOU ON THE MAIN POINT. This "issue" is not a big deal.
          B) If your post hadn't read like a defensive Sony shill, I wouldn't have called it such.
          C) Praising Sony for their Linux "support" is like praising Microsoft for adding MP3 "functionality" to the Xbox with their "Music Maker" software - crappy, limited implementations deserve scorn, not praise.
          D) Pretending that Sony
    • by dark_15 (962590)
      Maybe it's just me, but perhaps the fact that they normally shit on their customers whenever they get the chance to. Must I remind you about the rootkits [technet.com], exploding batteries [cpsc.gov], or shutting down Lik-Sang [lik-sang.com]? There are probably more examples, but these three are the ones that come to mind almost immediately. Oh I almost forgot - the marketing isn't too great either [consumerist.com].

      Then again, maybe I'm just cynical too.
      • by G Fab (1142219)
        I wanted to thank you for posting your laundry list. And I'm going to try to reply to it, though I'm not that interested in Sony product I think this is a really interesting look at what's going on with Slashdot.

        It's good for people to be able to see what your issues are (and I bet these are the issues people are actually concerned about). Since you provided links, people who aren't sure about Sony can learn more about its history.

        I agree that Sony marketing is terrible. You didn't even mention the arrog
    • I agree with the parent post as well as both responses. Sony's hardware is top notch. This wifi thing is a design decision; not a flaw. As the OP stated, if you see this as a flaw, then your PC is flawed because the OS uses some of your RAM.

      However, Sony makes some HORRIBLE marketing decisions as of late. I see this as more of a problem with "one hand doesn't know what the other is doing" rather than a Sony fuck-up. Sony's been pumping out some innovative shit lately, they just screw themselves over with ho
  • Almost since the first hack came out opening up the PSP to hobbyists, it's been known that overclocking the PSP's chip will break the wifi. There's been a lot of speculation about it, with a lot of people thinking it was intentional on Sony's part. Well, I guess now we know. It's UNintentional, but still Sony's fault.

    Heh, stupid closed rental-hardware company. They too will fall into obscurity.
    • by G Fab (1142219)
      I'm just curious what you meant by "closed rental". People who think Sony would deliberately incorporate the technology to destroy the wifi if you overclocked your PSP were probably paranoid schizophrenics. A lot of people with that illness surf the internet all day. That idea is just absolutely bonkers.
      • Stupid = sue hackers, "super-fans" and anyone else who does something you don't like with hardware or media you sell.
        Closed = Just try writing software for the PSP without being a large gaming company.
        Rental = BluRay, constant anti-homebrew PSP updates
        • by apoc06 (853263)
          sue hackers? name one individual hacker that sony has sued... they have threatened, but TMK theyve never sued any homebrew creators.

          closed? by nature, all console manufacturers are closed. they make money via SDK licensing. if you have the money to afford an SDK and have valid credentials/ backing even smaller developers can create PSP/ PSN games. look at cave story for example.

          rental? what does blu-ray have to do with anything? you are not "forced" to update your PSP firmware. its your choice: update or pl
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday August 13, 2007 @09:15PM (#20219781)
    You decide whether to play your Playstation Portable at 333Mhz or using WiFi capabilities. You choose to:

    1) play at 333 Mhz. Page 108
    2) play with WiFi capabilities. Page 42
    3) do both! Page 36

    p36. "Your PSP reads 'Emergency shut down. Battery dead.' You go to plug in your PSP to recharge it and the bettery explodes. You die.
    p42. You experience a decrease in graphics quality but are happy to be playing with people instead of on your own.
    p108. You run to your room, lock the door, and admire the 333Mhz in all their glory. You forget where you place the key for the door and die of starvation. One week after your death, your PSP spontaneously turns on, its battery explodes, and your corpse is set on fire.
  • by pslam (97660) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @06:27AM (#20222735) Homepage Journal
    This sounds very familiar to me (I work with a lot of deeply embedded systems). What they've probably got is a clock in the WiFi which is referenced from the CPU clock. It could be the core clock for it or maybe used as a reference to generate the 2.4GHz signal.

    So, when you change the CPU clock to 333MHz, the hard-wired multipliers for the WiFi clock don't work.

    It could also be that the clock jitter at 333MHz is greater than at 222MHz, so the WiFi doesn't work even if the clock dividers/multipliers can be adjusted.

    It could also be that they need to increase the core voltage to manage 333MHz, and that breaks some other aspect of the WiFi. Typically RF parts are very sensitive to these changes and the signal will end up garbled.

    It could also be that the power regulator can't actually supply the total system power load required for 33MHz CPU and WiFi at the same time (WiFi is quite power hungry).

    There's plenty of non-conspiracy reasons why this could be the way it is, and all of them are quite acceptable seeing as the part was only intended to be 222MHz in the first place. The fact that something doesn't work at 333MHz kind of validates the original rating.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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