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Portables (Games) Sony Games

Carmack Says NGP Is a 'Generation Beyond' Smartphones 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-it-so dept.
donniebaseball23 writes "id co-founder and all-around programming genius John Carmack, who has become a bigger fan of the iPhone and iOS platform recently, has given his take on the technical aspects of Sony's Next Generation Portable. He says that 'the Sony NGP [will] perform about a generation beyond smart phones with comparable specs.' Essentially, the fast approaching round of iOS and Android devices will still be well behind the capabilities of Sony's new handheld, which comes close to reproducing PS3-like visuals." New details have emerged since the NGP's confirmation yesterday: there will be different versions of the device, all of which can connect over Wi-Fi, but only one of which has 3G connectivity. The battery life will be similar to the original PSP, and the NGP will have two proprietary memory card slots. Sony says they considered 3D for the device, but they don't see how it translates to portable gaming. 1up has a hands-on with the NGP, as well as video of Epic's Unreal Engine 3 tech demo.
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Carmack Says NGP Is a 'Generation Beyond' Smartphones

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  • Which means... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bhunachchicken (834243) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:32AM (#35030528) Homepage

    "Carmack Says NGP Is a 'Generation Beyond' Smartphones"

    Which means it probably has a price to match. Sadly.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)
      Not to worry - only for less than a year (if even that)
      • Yes, pretty much. It's like slashdot's next generation interface: Completely bat-fuck broken (seriously, it doesn't work; I can't follow the "replies to your comments" links, they takes me to unrelated comments under the same article), but in 3 months they'll release a new, working version. Sony will release a 6 core handheld, and in 3 months phones will release a 3 core handheld but the cores will be ARMv12, twice the clock, and have dedicated coprocessors for graphics and physics that outperform Sony's
        • by peragrin (659227)

          Except slashdot hasbeen at it for 3 years and every new version is slower and runs worse than the previous version. I dontknow about any one else but it is almost unusable on my phone now. Comments take 10-30 seconds to load, articles disappear. The side bar randomly vanishes and the icons no longer scale.

          Sony is at least doing something useful with that power. Slashdot seems to need a quadcore phone LTE to load easily.

        • by Phoghat (1288088)
          Unfortunately goddamn Sony is still stuck in the proprietary memory card meme. Haven't they ever heard of SDHC or Micro SDHC? I mean, WTF?
      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Not to worry - only for less than a year (if even that)

        Likely a lot less. These Android hardware specs were announced several months ago for up coming models. They are clearly running in parallel time tables. By the time the NGP is available, competing hardware with equal or superior specs will already be out for Android.

        Only Apple is likely to be caught behind by this, but likely only one generational cycle at worst. So in the grand scheme, this is a complete non-news story.

        • Likely a lot less. These Android hardware specs were announced several months ago for up coming models. They are clearly running in parallel time tables. By the time the NGP is available, competing hardware with equal or superior specs will already be out for Android.

          Only Apple is likely to be caught behind by this, but likely only one generational cycle at worst. So in the grand scheme, this is a complete non-news story.

          Thanks to the explosion of Smartphones, Nintendo and Sony no longer have the edge in pe

    • Someone clearly hasn't bought a smartphone.

    • I think the closest match to this device now would be the iPod Touch in terms of pricing the NGP. You pay more for a phone just just because it is a phone. A 32 GB iPhone 4 is £612, the iPod Touch is £254. The other components in the iPhone (IPS screen, 3G radio and camera) do not add up enough to charge the extra £358, they charge more for a phone because it what the market will pay for the product. I don't think the market would pay £600 for the NGP.

      The NGP may be generations ahead

      • Re:Which means... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:20AM (#35031552) Homepage

        Smart-phones will catch up in 6 months after it is released. Some of the things coming down the line from HTC will make it look like a outdated toy.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Yep. The major problem of consoles is that they stay static for ten years while everybody else follows Moore's law. By next Xmas smartphones will have caught up and the year after that this will just be 'meh' in terms of computing power.

          PS: Yes... staying static has the advantage that developers have exact specs to develop/optimize for.

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          Unlikely. Sony essentially took current smartphone tech and scaled it up. Smartphones are starting to ship with dual-core Cortex A9 processors, Sony threw in a quad-core. Smartphones are starting to ship with single-core PowerVR SGX540s, Sony through in four of 'em.

          The reason you won't see this in 6 months from smartphone vendors is because Sony has a bigger power budget; the PSP doesn't have to be as small and light as a smartphone, so they can afford to burn a lot less power. The NGP probably draws three

          • This time next year, we may be saying 'quad-core Cortex A9 smartphones *just* hit the market', and the NGP will have been out for a couple of weeks which just hit the market. 12 months to catchup, doubt it, 24 months yes.

          • by Creepy (93888)

            for clarification on your post, the PowerVR SGX540 is a 4 core version, not 4 chips. PowerVR has an 8 core chip as well that can push 5x the triangles and has 4x the fill rate, but that probably consumed too much power (they may not have the power reqs of phones, but they still have reqs).

            My guess is they went with PowerVR because they had the fastest GPU that wasn't only a system-on-a-chip. Snapdragon Adreno's performance numbers are pretty bad comparably (they are geared more to battery life), and nVidia

        • by Svartalf (2997)

          Heh... Someone could probably already make a smartphone in that same class. Unless Sony's getting a complete exclusive on the cores on their SoC (VERY Unlikely...) someone else can spin one. If Sony's doing what I think they are, then someone else can just buy the SoC and put it in a smartphone.

          A generation beyond? I respect John Carmack a lot because of his contributions to a LOT of things in the game and other industries. In this one, I'm a bit afraid he's overstated the NGP's play here.

    • Could be eight generations beyond, if you buy it Sony will make you regret it. Based on my PS3 experience.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      "Carmack Says NGP Is a 'Generation Beyond' Smartphones"

      Which means it probably has a price to match. Sadly.

      Plus the generation beyond Smartphones don't apparently make any phone calls.

  • In the past... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:46AM (#35030620)

    In the past, portable gaming systems were always WAY beyond cell phones and other mobile devices. The fact that they recently caught up must be very scary for Sony.

    It must worry them even more that there are dozens of new smartphones every year, but the next PSP will be 5 years from now. That's a lot of competition.

    Because that's what he just admitted... That smartphones are competition to the PSP. There's not much point in comparing them, otherwise.

    Here's, let's try this: The PSP NGP is far more advanced than the space shuttle. ... Yeah, that just doesn't make sense. The PSP NGP is far inferior to a supercomputer. Yup, again, nonsense.

    • by Zelgadiss (213127)

      Oh they are on it already, google search for "Xperia Play".

      It will only be a matter of time before a PSP2 phone comes out - given that it uses ARM as well they can reuse the CPU and probably GPU for an Android based phone.

      Assuming nothing goes wrong, they can give Apple a run for their money.

      Nintendo is the one that should be worried.

      • I would disagree in this case. I think by launching a phone line that actually competes against the NGP is just another way that they're going to cannibalize their sales and fracture their install basis. If the Playstation Suite catches on outside of Sony Phones, they might have a chance at success, but that's asking a lot. It may be a cool product, but Sony is going to be another android phone in an already fractured market, where the key to their success is having a solid install basis. Don't get me wrong
        • by Zelgadiss (213127)

          Ya, releasing the phone so close to NGP launch is a little weird (not to mention that the PSP is about to be retired), but you can also see it as a "test" run to iron out problems.

          And when I said "If nothing goes wrong", I meant nothing goes terribly wrong. That they don't drop the ball and botch it, something that happens with Sony quite a bit, not "hope for perfect circumstances".

          IMO it's either integrate you game platform into a phone, or wait for Apple to eat your market share. Few people like carrying

      • It's Sony. Nintendo doesn't have to worry - it just has to stay out of the way while Sony self-destructs due to internal conflicts, dead-end media formats mandated by other Sony divisions, unrealistic price-points, market-alienating legal maneuvers, and the like.

        Nintendo needs to worry about Microsoft: now that Xbox and Kinect are the golden children in Redmond - and seeing how much better Microsoft is in dealing with the global market than either of the Japanese companies are - the next gen could belong to

        • by Zelgadiss (213127)

          It's Sony. Nintendo doesn't have to worry - it just has to stay out of the way while Sony self-destructs due to internal conflicts, dead-end media formats mandated by other Sony divisions, unrealistic price-points, market-alienating legal maneuvers, and the like.

          Nintendo needs to worry about Microsoft: now that Xbox and Kinect are the golden children in Redmond - and seeing how much better Microsoft is in dealing with the global market than either of the Japanese companies are - the next gen could belong to MS. Nintendo has to "open the kimono" a little bit if it wants to continue on the successes of the Wii and the DS.

          Yes, yes. I'm sure they will repeat ALL their mistakes they made in the past. /rolleyes

          When it comes to open-formats they notice no one but a few geeks give a damn - not to mention the same few geeks will probably use the open-standard as a way to hack the system too.

          Anyway the point of discussion here is, IMO if you want your handheld platform to survive it's goes to be necessary to integrate it into a phone. Few people like carrying an extra gadget around, they will use whatever device is available to gam

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      ya, and specifically, it's only *1* generation ahead of cell phones, and even then, it's not on store shelves yet. By the time it hits (close to xmas) we'll be seeing talk of 4 core ARM9 droid phones just as we were all wondering if the nexus S was going to be the first dual core Droid phone.

      Which I think was the point of the rest of the announcement. The PSP2 *should* be a phone, but isn't, but they're at least going to make all that PSP/PSP2/PSone goodness available on other ARM9 devices soon enough via

  • lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:51AM (#35030656)
    "the NGP will have two proprietary memory card slots."

    You'd think Sony would have learned by now.
    • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordKronos (470910) on Friday January 28, 2011 @09:00AM (#35030732) Homepage

      Yeah, well despite all of their past media format defeats, they just won on BluRay so now they are more convinced than ever. They're like the person that's been pumping $100 worth of quarters into the slot machine all day and just got a $10 payoff...they're on a roll now. So they double down by playing 2 slot machines at once, so they can double their "winnings".

      • by RedK (112790)

        Or maybe it's their past format wins that inspired them continue. You know, things like CD, DVD, the 3 1/2" floppy, BetaCam...

        It's not like Blu-ray is Sony's first media format win. But then again, everytime Sony gets one in, there's always someone that thinks it's the first time.

        • Re:lol (Score:4, Informative)

          by JBMcB (73720) on Friday January 28, 2011 @09:27AM (#35030934)

          CD was developed jointly with Phillips, and Phillips is generally more credited with pushing CDs as a standard (most of the actual standards documents were released by Phillips.)

          DVD was also jointly developed by Phillips and Sony, but it was based mostly on a previous standard by Toshiba.

          Sony came out with a 3" floppy standard that went nowhere. A consortium of companies took the standard and developed the 3.5" floppy standard.

          Betacam was a good professional format widely used, just like DAT, though not adopted widely by the general public.

          So, yeah, when Sony teams up with Phillips to develop new media they hit home runs. On their own - not so much (Beta, 3" Floppy, Consumer DAT, Minidisc, Memory Stick...)

      • Sony tries to run their Commercial division the way they run their Professional division. In the Pro division they are constantly introducing new formats - first Umatic VCRs, then Betacam, then Betacam SP, then Video8, then Hi8, the Betacam Digital, then Betacam HD, and so on.

        The pros happily gobble-up all these new formats because they can afford the huge upgrade costs, but that doesn't work for the Consumer division. You'd think Sony would finally learn but they never do. They just keep introducing on

        • Re:lol (Score:4, Informative)

          by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 @ g m a i l.com> on Friday January 28, 2011 @09:48AM (#35031152)

          Video8 was never a pro format! It was better than VHS-C, but barely. Both Video8 and Hi8 were much more consumer focussed, although there were some pro Hi8 cameras.

          MiniDisc is also far from a flop - it is used extensively in the radio industry and in ENG applications and is still one of the best replacements for cassette tape as a re-recordable medium. It failed in the consumer space because the consumer-level decks had the stupid Serial Copy Management System that prevented you making digital copies more than one generation deep (even of your own stuff), which the pro-hardware didn't have. It also faced the rise of the mp3 player. It was also pretty successful in the UK market before mp3 came along, with several manufacturers selling portable and deck players and combined HiFi systems with MD built in. The pre-recorded market never took off - there was no benefit over CD at the time, but as a re-recordable format it was a huge hit.

        • Betacam is essentially the same tape, from SP through to HD-Cam SR. Betacam is backwards compatible - You can play small or large Beta-SP tapes in a digibeta deck, or digibeta tapes in a HD-Cam SR deck. They are brilliant formats, and still used today. Mind you, a digibeta recordable deck will still set you back £40,000, or HD-Cam SR for around £90,000.

    • Why? Was Nintendo wrong to use proprietary cartridge formats for their game platforms up to the N64?

      I see no problem with this. In all likelihood one of the slots will be Memory Stick and the other will be Memory Stick with a funny shape.

    • As a distribution medium for a closed games console it makes perfect sense. Compatibility is only interesting when there are other devices that use the data. As no other machine will be designed to run the PSP2 games, nothing is lost.
      The DS cards are "proprietary", as are any game carts that came before it, and even the DVDs for the PS3, 360 and Wii are proprietary due to the use of encryption and signing technologies.

      Since Sony have slowly been warming to SD cards, they might even include a dual SD / memor

  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:53AM (#35030672)

    In portable gaming device land, one generation is somewhere around 5 years, which would be OK for sony, since for the entire lifespan of the thing, it will lead smartphones in terms of specs. In mobile phone land, a generation is around 1 year (you know, to get the general cattle frothing at the mouth for the new shiny for a few months before their contract is up for renewal), see apple if you need evidence, 1 apple, 1 year, 1 iphone...

    Now guess what happens when sony release the NGP next holiday season, only to be overtaken by phones within a year.

    Also, everyone claiming this thing is as powerfull as a PS3, can i have some of what you are smoking?

    • >>>In mobile phone land, a generation is around 1 year

      This is why I keep postponing purchase of a new phone. I know that the $200 iPhone-clone with internet capability will probably drop to $30 1.5 years from now. I'm a patient person.

      >>>see apple if you need evidence

      And Macs. Got a G4 that won't run the latest Safari or iTunes (good thing Opera supports old computers else I'd be browserless). I eventually sold the G4 ought of frustration. Meanwhile my XP-PC still runs everything I th

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        r

        This is why I keep postponing purchase of a new phone. I know that the $200 iPhone-clone with internet capability will probably drop to $30 1.5 years from now. I'm a patient person.

        Like the $99 iPhone 3 you can get today? Of course, if you're waiting for the iPhone 4 equiv you're right, but by then the iPhone 5 will be out and you'll be back in "waiting mode."

      • This is why I keep postponing purchase of a new phone. I know that the $200 iPhone-clone with internet capability will probably drop to $30 1.5 years from now. I'm a patient person.

        I haven't looked that much but I'm nearly positive you can get a low end android phone now for that $30 that will do at least say 50% of what an iPhone or the higher end phones will do and you can even go without a contract. That 50% may be 90% or more of what you want to do or it may not but it will likely surprise you how much more you can do with a computer you carry with you all the time that has a mobile data plan.

        And Macs. Got a G4 that won't run the latest Safari or iTunes (good thing Opera supports old computers else I'd be browserless). I eventually sold the G4 ought of frustration. Meanwhile my XP-PC still runs everything I throw at it, even though it's a year older. "Long term support" is one advantage MS has over Apple. even though MS software is inferior.

        Yeah you got nailed by a major platform change. It was for the better in the long run, bu

    • Also, everyone claiming this thing is as powerfull as a PS3, can i have some of what you are smoking?

      they won't because their joint is really really small. And they don't like to share it among too many people.

      more seriously : the NGP's powerVR will have to power a screen which has less than a quater of what the PS3 drives (900x480 vs 1920x1080p). In addition to that, as said pixel are small, it's very likely that some eye candy will be turned down as it's unnecessary/unnoticeable). Last but not least, the technological jewell inside the PS3 is the Cell processor. The GPU is somewhat related to NVidida GeF

      • thing is, the GPU is the only chip getting the benefit from the scaled down res/textures, stuff like physcis/AI still needs the same horsepower, and even though CELL is a bitch to program for, it undeniably has far more horse power then 4 arm cores at ~1 GHz

  • Yep, that's Sony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordKronos (470910) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:55AM (#35030694) Homepage

    Wow. TWO proprietary card slots? The game media I can understand, and even though it's proprietary I'd understand the secondary slot being Sony Memory Stick (I'd hate it, but it's sony, so I'd understand). But we're not even talking proprietary as in Sony Memory Stick, but as in an entirely new media format. Way to go, Sony.

    Oh, and they don't see how 3D translates to portable gaming? Well, I'm not surprised. They didn't see how motion control translated to console video gaming either, and laughed about how useless it was for 3 years before their "hey, hey, look at me....we can do it too, and in the lamest way possible" release of Move. I wouldn't be surprised if 2 years down the line they are suddenly all over 3D portable gaming and end up implementing it on the NGP by shipping new games with a pair of red/blue glasses.

    • 3D is hugely overrated at this point. If it was a killer feature, Apple would have implemented it already. Give it another 5 years, then it might be usable. Either that, or it dies a horrible death.

  • by commodore6502 (1981532) on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:57AM (#35030710)

    "The Jaguar is 64 bit! Not as powerful as the N64, but more powerful than the 32 bit Sony Playstation." - Jack Tramel, Atari

    "The PS2 will be able to do Toy Story graphics in real time!" - Sony

    "The PS3 will be so great, people will WANT to pay $700 to get it!" - Ken Kutaragi

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Fool me 4 times, shame on both of us.

    • by Radres (776901)

      There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Fool me 4 times, shame on both of us.

      Fool me 4 times, chances are 5 and 6 times are going to happen too :)

    • by Nyder (754090)

      wtf!

      I just typed a nice replay, and the whole fucking text just disappeared.

      seriously this new design, sucks badly.

      You can't even tell where the fucking links are, can't tell what is quoted.

      fuck you slashdot, you are totally sucking now.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday January 28, 2011 @09:12AM (#35030818) Journal
    ...And in completely unrelated news, Sony has just announced that the NGP will ship with a remake of Doom (and have no other titles available at launch).
  • A smart phone without a contract is $500. This'll retail for $250 and drop in price.
    • A smart phone without a contract is $500. This'll retail for $250 and drop in price.

      And an Ipod Touch with 8GB included is just $230, and is just as capable of falling in price (since it is also not a phone).

      The Ipod will also get a hardware upgrade yearly that I'm not expecting to see for this NGP (unless they break the "fixed platform spec" mantra successful consoles have followed for the last 30 years).

  • by GeorgeWright (612851) <gwright@@@kde...org> on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:28AM (#35031664) Homepage

    Posted here in full:

    "Low level APIs will allow the Sony NGP to perform about a generation beyond smart phones with comparable specs."

    Carmack isn't saying that the hardware in the NGP is a generation ahead of smart phones. He's saying that because of the APIs available to developers they'll be able to utilise that hardware more effectively (specifically that a developer will be able to squeeze an extra generation's worth of performance out of hardware with approx. the same specifications), which makes sense once you consider that the games are pretty much running on the bare metal, and that the entire system is optimised for gaming.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      Exactly, it is also the reason iOS dominates as a gaming platform "native code execution".

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        and I guess that's why Google released r5 [blogspot.com] of their NDK - which basically offers native development for Android (focussed on games, but "you can now build an entire Android application without writing a single line of Java.")

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      It does also help that the NGP comes with a quad-core Cortex A-9 CPU. Dual-core cellphones are barely out yet.

      Yes, it'll eventually get outmatched in terms of raw power, but it'll have a double lead for a while.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday January 28, 2011 @12:31PM (#35033578)

    I think the days are numbered for dedicated game machines when you can get Phones and tablets that will do games "good enough" for most and do much more besides.

    If I stack a 7" Android tablet against the NGP. I see an open computer with plenty of free, low cost software vs a proprietary game machine with expensive proprietary apps, expensive proprietary media. I just don't think this model is really going to remain relevant anymore.

    • However, it is often content that sells platforms. Rightly or wrongly, game developers think of the Android market as one where people do not want to pay money for premium content: a buck or two for an addictive casual game is alright, but is anyone going to download a copy of Kingdom Hearts: Droid for $20?

      Given that there still is a market for $20, $30, even $40 handheld games (though a risky one with shrinking margins), what is the best kind of platform for selling titles in that market? I'm honestly not

    • I think the days are numbered for dedicated game machines when you can get Phones and tablets that will do games "good enough" for most and do much more besides.

      I think Sony recognizes that the general-purpose mobile device market is becoming key to mobile gaming, which is they announced the Playstation Suite framework (initially for Android 2.3+, apparently with cross-platform mobile plans) at the same time that they announced the NGP.

    • The crucial difference is that you're not going to see many A-grade games on the Android device.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Have fun playing real games with a touchscreen. The most important thing in gaming is having a good controller.

  • How is John Carmack relevant to games anymore, especially smartphone games or handhelds? Before you mod me flamebait, see if you can answer that question. See if you can find something he has worked on in the past 20 years that isn't a re-make of Doom or Quake, and that is somehow related to handheld devices. I'm not flaming, I just want someone to explain why what Carmack says has any importance anymore. Surely there are better people suited to making determinations about handheld devices...
    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      Rage HD?

      It's probably one of the best-looking mobile games ever seen, right up there with Epic's Infinity Blade (some say even better).

      You may not like Carmack saying that Sony's NGP is doing something better than Android/iOS, but he's still extremely relevant to the game development world. id tech 5 is currently looking like it'll surpass Unreal Engine 3 easily and even CryEngine 3, making it the most powerful multiplatform graphics/game engine on the market. Similarly, id's mobile engine is setting up to

    • by non0score (890022)
      You're equating games to engine technology, and that's fundamentally the distinction that many people miss. Carmack doesn't make games, he makes game engine technology. Whether or not id can use that engine technology to its fullest to make their games is a completely different question. In terms of engine technology, Carmack is still good at finding low level insights and even high level algorithms. So that's why he's still relevant, even if people don't necessarily want to buy into his megatexture tech (
    • The remakes of Doom and Quake have always been used to show off the newest engine and subsequently licence that to third parties.

      And who is the mastermind behind these new engines?

      That's why he still matters. A lot.

      Oh, and also the fact that he tends to release the old stuff as FLOSS once he does not need it any more. Anyone else doing that?

  • Except that none of us are buying Sony products anymore remember?

    We shouldn't even pay attention to Sony related PR. Pretend they don't exist.

  • "Carmack Says NGP Is a 'Generation Beyond' Smartphones"

    Well, except for the "is a phone" part.

    Breaking: The PS3 is generations ahead of all smartphones, too!

    I have no idea how many people buy an iPhone just so they can play games, but it's likely not very many; I suspect more buy the phone because it can make calls (and play games and do other nifty stuff and everyone thinks it's cool).

    Android I'm not so sure about. I literally do not know a single person who uses an Android-based phone (although I want to

  • ...to remove/disable one or more bullet-point marketed features in the name of security and anti-piracy.

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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