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Playstation 3 Gathering Components 443

briancnorton writes "Cnet has a story about how Sony has licensed some Rambus connection technology for the playstation 3. One technology is for chip-to-chip communications and the other for chip-to-RAM at over 100 Gbps. These are all parts of the 'Cell' processor system that is supposed to do over '1 trillion mathematical calculations per second.'"
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Playstation 3 Gathering Components

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  • Stock (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 56 ( 527333 )
    I wonder if I should buy some rambus stock, it's at like 7 now.
  • Wait A Second.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pave Low ( 566880 )
    Isn't Rambus supposed to be evil with all their patent business?

    So will the principled slashdotters put their money with their mouths are and not buy a PS3?

    Just curious.

    • Re:Wait A Second.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:01PM (#5033351)
      So will the principled slashdotters put their money with their mouths are and not buy a PS3?

      Or a PS2, as there's been Rambus tech in there from day 1.
    • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:07PM (#5033446)
      Rambus patent bitching is soooo 2001. All the cool Slashdotters are now bitching about In Soviet Russia jokes.
    • Sony is my Dark Master. I bow to the whim of Sony. Rambus is good. You will use Rambus or you will be destroyed! Sony has spoken.

    • Yeah, that's why I have an Xbox. (-;
    • "So will the principled slashdotters put their money with their mouths are and not buy a PS3?"

      That's not the righit way to approach it.

      a.) Sony bears the brunt of the 'boycott'. They've already paid for the Rambus chips. They're not going to suddenly reengineer their hardware, so at best the results would happen 3-7 years later when it comes to making a new console.

      b.) Would you be willing to blow up your own house to thwart a burgalar? Consider this: The economy is bad. All it takes is for a little bad news and money starts moving around to various markets. If Sony's not aware of the boycott, then it's the game market you're hurting. Game companies will scale back and work on more 'tried and true' game play. (read: Quake, Street Fighter, and Kart wannabes)

      I don't like Sony or Rambus, but a boycott aimed at Rambus through Sony would do more harm than good.
    • Re:Wait A Second.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:05PM (#5033934) Homepage Journal
      If you read the article, this issue is brought up (last three paragraphs):
      With product sales and licensing fees in jeopardy, Rambus launched into its second life, as a litigant. Starting in 2000, the company began to seek patent royalties and pursue lawsuits against Micron, Infineon and other memory companies. The company said that patents it filed in 1990 entitled it to royalty payments on all of the SDRAM and DDR DRAM ever sold.

      Potentially, the lawsuits could have entitled the company to billions in royalties. Infineon and others, however, alleged that Rambus committed fraud in securing those patents and, so far, the memory companies have won in court.

      Since then, the company has tried to position itself as the kindler, gentler Rambus, with executives stating that the company will work more on chip connections and spend less time in court.

      So it looks like that they have realised that litigation was not getting them anywhere and decided to go back to their core business.
    • Why stop there? Sony is evil what with their association with the RIAA and MPAA, and their tendency to license the shit out of technology which isn't all that impressive to begin with. They licensed Betamax into the ground some time ago (I'm sure most of us can remember that) and would have massacred minidisc the same way except that they're an industry ubergiant. Then memory stick came next - Now here sony is, they have a proprietary encrypted memory card solution and when the PS2 comes around, do they use it for the memory card? No, they come up with a different but basically equivalent proprietary encrypted memory card solution.
  • by syntap ( 242090 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @12:59PM (#5033317)
    "This new game console will do one million cagillion ... billion calculations per second!"
  • Rambus (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaseyB ( 1105 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @12:59PM (#5033320)
    Obviously Sony was sold on the technology after seeing how much benefit intel got from it.
    • What nailed Intel/Rambus was the cost associated with it. The performance gain didn't match the premium price Intel/Rambus demanded. So in response people ended up buying older Intel technology or if they needed the speed and performance they bought AMD.

      Here's hoping Sony was able to liscense the technology for cheap. If not, they're going to be stuck when it comes down to a price war between Nintendo and Microsoft when the next generation gaming machines come out.

      • Re:Rambus (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SoVeryWrong ( 576783 )
        I'm not so sure price will be all that different. Nintendo has been using RAMBUS technology on their consoles for a while (way before Intel adopted it).
    • Re:Rambus (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:08PM (#5033462) Homepage
      I think it makes sense to use a "proprietary" technology like RAMBUS for consoles..

      The main drawback to RAMBUS on a PC architecture, IMHO, is the tight grip on manufacturing, and the possible inability to get parts at a reasonable cost (not that it was really reasonable in the first place).

      When's the last time you upgraded the RAM in your console?

      • Re:Rambus (Score:3, Interesting)

        by batkiwi ( 137781 )
        The last time I upgraded my RAM for a console is when Turok2 came out for the N64, and I bought the 4mb ram upgrade kit, which, if I'm not mistaken (and I very well may be), was rambus ram.
        • Re:Rambus (Score:2, Interesting)

          which, if I'm not mistaken (and I very well may be), was rambus ram.

          You are not mistaken. The N64 uses Rambus for both the main system memory and the 4 meg Expansion Pak.
        • That is correct, it's all RDRAM. While the latency and narrow (serial) interface between system and memory cause performance problems for PCs (interleaved DDR SDRAM turns out to be faster than interleaved RDRAM for obvious reasons which have been rehashed many times) but not for consoles. This is because you have more control over the system since you're designing every piece of it and none of the memory ever has to be physically far away from its controller.
      • "When's the last time you upgraded the RAM in your console?"

        Right after Majora's Mask came out and I got the 4 meg memory upgrade for my N64.

        Oh, you meant that to be rhetorical...oops
      • Re:Rambus (Score:2, Informative)

        by nelsonal ( 549144 )
        As I understand it, and I am certainly no expert on ram signaling, RDRAM's serial arrangement works well better in consoles because they benefit from the speed increases, without suffering from the main drawback of increased lag times, because most consoles have quite a bit les RAM than a PC. RDRAM signal's each ram unit in sequential order, which sometimes means long lags when retriving data from a ram bank that was just signaled, you have to wait for the signal to reach each of the other banks. However, you benefit from much higher throughput once the correct ram bank is found. This was one reason why the much larger sized AV files performed so much better on early P4s with the Rambus chipsets. Consoles with their much smaller ram requirements have much shorter lag times than a PC with a Gig of ram, and benefit quite a bit from the higher throughput. The dual banks of ram were one method to reduce the lag, since it allows two signals to proceed at the same time reducing the maximum number of cycles before data can be transmitted.
        Of course my knoledge of these subjects is strictly from an hobbist point of view, any engineers or others with more knowledge are free to in form me of any errors.
  • yeah okay... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by doofusclam ( 528746 )
    ... so cue the comments about how great a Beo-bloody-wulf cluster this would make and how it'll be able to solve world peace despite the fact this is a carefully orchestrated scare tactic to keep ps2 owners from buying XBoxes (sp?)

    Thing is it sounds impressive, but will that still be the case when it ships? If it was available now then of course things would be more interesting.

    And Rambus: maybe this is their real market, PCs are too much of a commodity to employ their expensive memory. The only 'expensive' discrete component in a PC nowadays is Windows, and even that seems on the way out.

    • The only 'expensive' discrete component in a PC nowadays is Windows, and even that seems on the way out.

      Yeah, except for the $400 video card that I sold soul to buy.

  • Some Specs (Score:5, Informative)

    by robbyjo ( 315601 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:01PM (#5033359) Homepage

    Can be found here [].

  • Anyone know if they are considering a Linux kit fpr PS3?

  • next gen consoles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tw1z ( 632642 )
    I suppose this is the beginning of all the hype about the next gen consoles as the current gen sales have started to dry up (post x-mas). There are only visible bumps in sales as various online applications and "killer app" titles emerge (vice city, etc etc). The reality is that the next generation platform is going to be much more dependent on networking and in-home broadband capabilities than on highly touted chip stats. At present there are approximately 12 million PS2's in the US market and about 5 million Xboxs. Assuming no overlap (and we know there is some), that 17 million represents approximately 17% of US households having a latest generation console. My theory is this number is strictly capped by the broadband capabilities of homes. If the telco's/cableco's/wirelessco's don't get the ball rolling all the chip stats on earth aren't going to bust this market open. Even more interestingly, we once again find ourselves in a position where the latest technology innovations are going to be hindered by the binge/purge internet infrastructure roll-out of the late nineties...
  • Patents and stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by floppy ears ( 470810 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:03PM (#5033395) Homepage
    With product sales and licensing fees in jeopardy, Rambus launched into its second life, as a litigant. Starting in 2000, the company began to seek patent royalties and pursue lawsuits against Micron, Infineon and other memory companies. The company said that patents it filed in 1990 entitled it to royalty payments on all of the SDRAM and DDR DRAM ever sold.

    Lovely. Let's all go out and throw support to this wonderful company!

    Seriously, though, I'm in the market for a new computer right now. I'm looking for a high end machine, but I refuse to buy one with RDRAM. It's just too expensive and not effective enough. Thankfully, you can now buy high-end DDR based Pentiums at Dell.

    Rambus sucks.
    • It's just too expensive and not effective enough.

      RAMBUS has always and still does offer the best performance combined with a P4. And although this is largely irrelevant now, the price difference has almost disappeared (RAM prices between PC3500 DDR ram and 1066 Mhz RDRAM are within $5, and boards with the Intel i850 chipset are usually about $20-25 more than boards with an 845 series chipset).

      Doesnt make a difference now since I think Intel is dropping RDRAM support.

    • If you want high-end, what the hell are you doing buying a dell? With the possible exception of cases (I have yet to see a really good third party server case, to date they are all either stupid-ugly or underdesigned) you're better off buying every single component yourself from an e-tailer for a variety of reasons including selection, price, and the fact that when you've put it together you know just how everything is set up.
  • Silly asses (Score:2, Funny)

    by Thud457 ( 234763 )
    Maybe if they chose a tile based graphics architecture, they wouldn't need to buy ludicriously expensive 100 gb/s RAM.
  • by zipwow ( 1695 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:06PM (#5033431) Homepage Journal
    Will it have enough processing power to crack the XBox key? :P

  • by stevarooski ( 121971 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:08PM (#5033457) Homepage
    Its great that these rumors of the PS3 are leaking out to get people excited, but we certainly won't be seeing the unit for a good while yet.

    Console development is damn expensive (and getting worse each time around), and there is a *lot* of life left in the PS2. Hell, they're still selling PSOnes at a good clip!

    I would expect Sony to milk the PS2 for all its worth before updating the hardware (and forcing updates from those developing for it, always a hassle). The only thing that would make them move more quickly is to one-up an opponent. And even then, they may wait; its the games that make money, and there are some pretty damn good games for the PS2.
    • Personally I would expect the PS3 in 2006, maybe 2005 if Microsoft release their nextgen Xbox sooner than expected. The PS2 hasn't really hit its stride yet with development and the full potential of the system has only been realized on a small handful of games. I think we'll be seeing some spectacular titles comeing out on the PS2 towards the end of 2003 and all of 2004.

    • Not really. A good clip is how well the GameCube is selling in Japan, usually around 75,000 units a week. The PSOne moves a couple thousand a week. The only people who buy a PSOne are people who want to give the kids a PS for a TV in the rec room, without taking away the PS2 they use for DVD playback.

      The PS2 is nearing the end of its life. For people who only own one console, the PS2 still has some stuff coming out for it that they'll like, but for most of the rest of us the only things interesting on it are titles like Wild Arms 3 and Suikoden 3, which won't be released elsewhere. Things like Medal of Honour: Frontline are out on GameCube and Xbox with extras like multiplayer modes and better graphics. A lot of the titles for the PS2 just aren't as compelling when you have multiple consoles. Onimusha, Metal Gear, etc, are all showing up elsewhere. Why own it on the PS2 when you can have it better on a different console?

      As for the exclusives themselves, there aren't too many. Enough for me to justify buying the console, but not too many in general (Devil May Cry series, Onimusha 2, a few PS2 RPGs, Mr. Mosquito).
  • What I care about (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <jhummel@johnhu m m e> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:08PM (#5033467) Homepage
    While having super fast graphics/processors/etc is a very good thing (after all, it has to last at least 5 years before the PS4 comes out ;) ), here's my own wish list for the PS3:

    1. Backwards compatible with the PSOne and PS2. Plenty of great games for those systems still out there, and I still like to play them.

    2. Hard drive. This will be needed for the online games (which I don't care about) and add-ons (which I do). While there are games like RPG Maker 2 coming out which use the memory card, I'm more interested in seeing a PC like mod-community surround the PS3 - something we don't have now.

    That, and I just don't like memory cards. I must have 20 PSOne memory cards (and most of those backed up to the PC through some third party units). I'd like to be able to swap save games with my friends just by connecting to them online.

    3. Built in Ethernet/Modem: I'm assuming that come 2005 we'll still mostly be connecting via 56K modems in some areas, so let's assume that's going to be the case. I don't need a "$10 a month for a central line" - I don't play online that often, and I'd rather just have a few good friends who aren't assholes connect to my PS3 over the 'Net to play.

    4. With the Ethernet/Modem, I want a CDDB system for my CD's to store them on the HDD.

    5. And, of course, I want a Linux disk to be orderable with the system - just for those of us who like to tinker.
    • Backwards compatible with the PSOne and PS2. Plenty of great games for those systems still out there, and I still like to play them.

      Yeah, but have you seen PS1 games on a PS2 console? The graphics difference is almost as bad as that between the original Colecovision and the VGA version of Cmdr Keen.

      My sister-in-law got a PS2 for Christmas. Her PS1 games spent a whopping total of 60 seconds in the console before being ripped out and replaced with Tekken 4.

      • Are you talking about graphics difference as far as:

        PS2 > PSOne(on PS2)


        PSOne(on PSOne) > PSOne(on PS2)

        If you talking about the former - I agree, there is a graphics difference - but for some of my favorite games (Final Fantasy VII, Lunar, etc), I don't give a crap.

        If you're talking the latter, then I haven't seen that myself.

        But graphics aren't always the deal. Look at the original Final Fantasy VI (III US), Super Mario Brothers, or the original Pac-Man. Simple graphics (sprite based, granted), but still great. Or Panzer Dragoon Saga - by todays standards, awful graphics (even the movie sequences look dated), but still a great game.
        • I don't know if PS2 games will play on the PSOne.

          I was referring to PSOne games on the PS2.

        • PSOne(on PSOne) > PSOne(on PS2)

          The best example of this, and I'm not sure why it happens, is Driver 2. I haven't seen a game that has more problems with it. They must do some strange things with the graphcis for PSX that just don't translate over to PS2. Walls disappear, things are overly pixelated in some places, and a lot of stuff along those lines.

          However, most games render fine. I think it's how close they adhere to the PSX specs instead of hacking for additional features/speed.
      • I was quite pleased with the backward compatibility. I can play Castlevania:Symphony of the Night without having to keep my PSOne hooked up on the main TV, which means the kids (very young kids) can have the PSOne to do whatever they please with!
    • Just buy an XBox. Problems solved :)
      • I don't mean to sound like a fanboy - I really don't. I have an Xbox, and technically, it's all good.

        But it's the games for me. I like RPG's - and other than Morrowind (which I play on my PC), and Fable (when it comes out), I don't see anything else I really want. I'm not into sports games at all, and most FPS on the consoles don't hook as well as the PC/Mac based ones do.

        My Xbox list:

        Fatal Frame (Xbox version)
        Silent Hill 2 (Xbox version)
        Splinter Cell

        Probably some others (I might buy Mechassault, but I'd rather have Steel Battalion ;) ), but that's about it.

        My PS2 and Gamecube list is much greater - again, nothing about the technology, just about the games (Monkey Ball 2, Resident Evil Zero, Xenosaga, Star Ocean III, Suikoden III, etc) that I enjoy.

        I do see your point - some of my items are in the Xbox now. I think they're good things - some things I'd like the PS3 to have. And there are things I'd like the Xbox to have (CDDB for the ripped files, USB/Firewire connections so I can plug in a keyboard/mouse, etc).

        No system is perfect, so I like to see things better for them all. But for me - I just like the games.

        My rule:

        Xbox has the best looking games.
        PS2 has the most games.
        Gamecube has the best games.

        Just my $0.02.
    • 1. Backwards compatible with the PSOne and PS2.

      Your wish has already been confirmed, though I can't provide links at the moment, do a google search. You'll find them.

      2. Hard drive.

      There are two sides to that coin, and the side in favor of the hard-drive has more disadvantages than the side that says it's just an expensive waste. I would PREFER a larger standard memory card than a hard drive. 64 meg or 128 meg. That would all but eliminate the need for dozens of memory cards or even the limitations on what you could store on even one that was dedicated to just a few games. As for swapping saves with a friend, it's actually EASIER with a memory card. Just take your card to a friend's house, copy. Bam. I have a PS2. I have many, many games. My PS2's 8 meg card is about half full, and I get to take it with me when I go to a friend's house which has been useful. My Xbox's hard-drive on the other hand is about fucking useless. Yes, it'll save my game on MY Xbox, but it doesn't do me any good when I go anywhere else.

      A hard drive is a good thing. Big-Fat Memory cards are better. There is really no argument here.

      3. Built in Ethernet/Modem

      Oh yes, in an ideal world every machine would come with all the upgrades. It's anybody's guess what Sony will do when the issue of money comes into play. I guess on this one we'll just have to see.

      4. With the Ethernet/Modem, I want a CDDB system for my CD's to store them on the HDD.

      There's no reason why they couldn't do that right now using 64 or 128 meg memory cards (or larger), but a hard drive IS better suited for this task. Still, given that online capabilities are only going to become more common in consoles, there isn't any reason why CDDB support couldn't make it into even the current PS2s, and definately the PS3. Sony's feelings on the whole issue will be the major stumbling block.

      5. And, of course, I want a Linux disk to be orderable with the system - just for those of us who like to tinker.

      You already know about the Linux kit for the PS2, why would you think it wouldn't come along at least at some point on the PS3? I personally don't see Sony considering it a major issue, but I don't think you'll have to worry. Even if Sony doesn't do it, some crafty geeks probably will.
    • Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft make all their money on software sales. The second people can run UNLICENSED software on the system (Ie. Linux, which in turn can run Linux games, or emulators) will make it so there is little to no need to buy legit software for that console. You may think "Sure, but the percentage of people who will do this is small. So it wont hurt." - WRONG, losing ANY legit game sales hurts the developers. If you look at the XBox with it's mod chips, people can put 200GB drives in their systems, stick a Linux installation on the drive, stuff it with a NES, SNES, Genesis, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, MAME, and god knows what else emulators on it, thats all people NEED for $200 bux! A lot of people are buying the XBox simply for that purpose, which Microsoft (And others) LOSE MONEY ON. You can blame this on bad console design, but Microsoft and Sony CAN NOT offer systems like this as cheap as we are seeing now if you want this. They will have to redo their entire marketing and we would see consoles for nearly $500 just so Sony / etc gets some sort of PROFIT by allowing people to opt out of buying their licensed software (Like the PS2 Dev kit).
  • Microsoft announced the up and coming YBOX. Based on the intel platform, and manufactured by Dell, it will perform 2 trillion calculations per second, and will be marketed by Steve.....Dude..yer gettin a dell.
  • No thanks! (Score:3, Funny)

    by MImeKillEr ( 445828 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:10PM (#5033483) Homepage Journal
    I'll just wait until the PlayStation 9 [] comes out.

  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:13PM (#5033512) Homepage Journal
    "Cell, which is expected to come out in late 2004 or early 2005"..."will have the ability to do north of 1 trillion mathematical calculations per second, roughly 100 times more than a single Pentium 4 chip running at 2.5GHz."

    - First off I don't know if I like the fact that the word "north" was put in there - IMHO I think the wording could have been better.

    Anyway my initial impression was "Cool in 1 -2 years there will be a new PS console as long as it stays backwards compatible like the PS2 I should be alright" but then I started thinking - with the Linux Kit for the PS2 and the ethernet adapter etc... the PS2 is really starting to get close to just becoming another "choice" as far as a pc (personal computer).

    Example: John Doe doesn't own a computer. John Doe buys a PS2 with all the accessories - and can now surf the web, send email, code, run nix apps, and play video games - exactly what the average computer home user does (with the linux exception of course)

    So if the PS3 is really going to be this "crazy fast machine of death to all other consoles" then would it surprise anyone if Sony started it's own line of Computers/Console crossovers? Where do you draw the line on what difines Computer and what defines Console with the wall beginning to crumble?
    • maybe someone can expand on this, but I believe for import and export purposes, the definition of game console and personal computer becomes a financial issue.

      that may play into the decision to market it one way or another.
    • This has been discussed several times. Sony is huge in home entertainment. They manufacture everything that you can plug into a television AND they make computers. They're big into Linux now that Microsoft has jumped in on their gaming profit shares.

      Panasonic was trying to do cool stuff with Nintendo's GameCube ... but I don't think they got very far.

      I suspect the next generation of all gaming consoles will be more of an all around entertainment box with all the Internet connectivity of a home computer. The only thing missing from the XBox is a keyboard, mouse, and web browser. The only thing missing from the PS2 is ... oh wait, nothing is missing. I'm going to go place my order for PS2 Linux now.

  • Someone doing something worthwhile in the multi-processor field.
    Maybe now people will start to write propper multi-threaded apps.

    More seriously, this should be great for AI's, streams of N dimensional data e.g. video
    , synthsised sound and DSP (think reason), etc.....

  • The PS3 is slated to come out in a hazy period when everyone in the US is *supposed* to switch to HDTV, but obviously the majority of people aren't going to. If the PS2 is HDTV-only, then that's great in a lot of ways, but it's also going to limit market. Heck, I have a 12 year old TV that suits me just fine, and I still buy new consoles. That same TV has lasted me through the Genesis, PS1 and PS2 (and probably a Game Cube one of these days).

    I could see Sony delaying the PS3 until HDTV has taken over a majority of the market.
  • Some good games? The past 5 games I bought for the Ps2 at $50 a pop, I returned 3 of them because they were very disappointing. Great Hardware and Fantastic graphics are insignificant if the game sucks. Better yet, how about a new game genre?
  • Something tells me we're going to have a console that's really good at counting to 1 trillion. They don't exactly say *what* mathematical calculations it's so good at... or if it gets the calculations right. 1 + 1 = -37, anyone?
  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:21PM (#5033589) Homepage if the PS3 will be easier to program than the PS2? My impression of the PSX history was that it did well because it was the 3dfx of consoles. That is, like Glide on PCs, the PSX development tools made tossing 3D games together fairly easy, relative to the Saturn and possibly even the N64. Naturally, those that wanted to squeeze the very most out of the system found the tricks (by getting "down to the metal", so to speak) that would pull off things that weren't necessarily possible through the standard dev tools. This satisfied a great number of developers, as they could get be as deep or as shallow with the graphics as they wanted.

    Now, the PS2 comes out and everyone talks about how difficult it is to program for. Sure, we may be past that, but some devs definitely gave the impression of being turned off by Sony's new system and thought Sony had done a poor job the second time around in providing good dev tools. Naturally, the ability to get down and dirty with the hardware is still there, but perhaps those that didn't want to get too deep into the programming couldn't toss off games quite as easily as they had with the PSX. (Aside: Less shovelware might be a good thing for a console, come to think of it. But I digress...) I'd be interested to know if people still consider the PS2 to be a difficult system to work with.

    Now, the PS3 is in the works and has this nebulous "cell" technology. If two processors were hard to work with in the PS2 (and Saturn and Jaguar) then how the hell can adding more be better, right? What I'd like to be hearing, if I were a game dev, is not that the system is going to be the most powerful thing to hit the industry but rather that it's powerful and easy to start programming for as soon as the dev kit arrives. If there is a high level system that allows you to just toss jobs as this group of cells and get them to do lots of dirty work for you without a lot of hand-holding, then that might very well be cool. But if every game programmer has to learn to corral a horde or CPUs into doing things in parallel, then it sounds like a losing prospect.

    Ok, that's enough. Just wanted to get that out there. :^) Possibly off-topic, but this is a story about the PS3 tech...
    • by entrager ( 567758 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:52PM (#5033817)
      The PS2 still is hard to program for. The difference is that now there are some libraries that can be used to simplify things. In the beginning everyone was forced to do things in pure assembly (OK, ALMOST pure assembly). But now the companies that have been working on PS2 games for years have developed libraries and engines that are already optimized. Haven't you noticed that most games that come out of the same development studio have the same look and feel? Of course each game is a bit more refined, but overall stageringly similar.

      It seems to be a common misconception that the PS2 has multiple CPUs. It doesn't. What it does have is a single CPU that is split up into several independantly operating units. The dual-CPU idea developed from the fact that the Emotion Engine has two vector processing units that operate almost exactly the same. These two units make up the bulk of the mathematical processing in the PS2, and must be coded separately.

      All of the code I've written for them has been in assembly and the process is GRUELING. Each unit actually performs two operations at once, a lower and upper instruction. Since the ultimate goal is optimization you end up writting all your assembly and then rearranging everything so that the combination of upper and lower instructions don't step on top of each other and everything runs without any wasted clock cycles. I have heard of a few tools that have been developed to compile C into optimized VPU code, but I haven't used any and I doubt they work very well. A good camera manipulation program will only take maybe a hundred lines of assembly if it's optimized correctly, but I bet these programs spit out many many more.

      (Wow, I really steered off the original topic didn't I?)
    • It is in fact possible to create an abstraction layer that portrays the multi-processor environment monolitically. I assume there would be a way to tinker with it should some developer be so inclined, but I dont see it as a problem. So long as your program is multi-threaded most developers shouldnt have to worry about multi processor spanning techniques.
    • The good news is, unless Sony are doing something really freaky, it shouldn't matter how many processors they have, above 2.

      The bad news is that game programmers are probably going to have a nightmare of a time getting their head around using more than a single processor, effectively. Game programmers are going to have to figure out which parts of their code can run concurrently, without the gain from splitting the code being higher than the loss through synchronization. The only game I can remember that has ever used multiple processors is Quake 3, and I think that might not just be because multi-processor systems are rare.

      Having said that, I think multi-processor systems will become more common as time goes on, both in the traditional seperate processor way, and in technologies such as the cell processor. This means that programmers are more likely to have dealt with multi-processor systems apart from the PS 3, or skills learn for the PS 3 will be transferrable. I also think that the PS 3's architecture will be easier to learn than that of the PS 2.

  • How does this compare to the allready existing XBox?
  • Sony's efforts to get good games on the system. System potential's nice, but you still need games to make interesting use of it.

    The Game Industry's going to be in a bit of a problem within a generation or two. It'll get to the point that the graphics are good enough and that the upgrades in graphics capabilities go unnoticed by most gamers. Look at what we have today: The graphics fill the resolution of the TV, textures are sharp, polygon counts are high, and we (the gamers) are having less to yearn for.

    Soon graphics on consoles (even PC's) will be to the point that the artist makes a much bigger diference in image quality than the hardware on the console. So what then?
    • Soon graphics on consoles (even PC's) will be to the point that the artist makes a much bigger diference in image quality than the hardware on the console. So what then?

      Then the system manufacturers will be happy, because they can slow the upgrade cycle down, eat significantly less money in the first 4-8 quarters, yet continue to rake in the dough on liscensing fees. All in all, an end, or a slowdown to the upgrade cycle would be good for the Hardware manufacturers. Particularly the one in the lead as far as console share.
      • "Then the system manufacturers will be happy, because they can slow the upgrade cycle down, eat significantly less money in the first 4-8 quarters, yet continue to rake in the dough on liscensing fees. All in all, an end, or a slowdown to the upgrade cycle would be good for the Hardware manufacturers. Particularly the one in the lead as far as console share."

        I see what you're saying, but I don't share your vision. If you look at the marketing strategies of MS and Sony, you'll see that they've been overfilling the hardware bucket and underplaying the games they plan to have. The problem, as they percieve it, is that their system has to be different in some way. That's why the XBOX has a hard-drive.

        I dunno. In one respect, I can see your view. They'll be able to make a generic box and let it get continually cheaper and cheaper without significant upgrades. On the other hand, I have trouble imaginging that these companies wouldn't try hard to differentiate their hardware in some fashion or another so that they can continue to absorb licensing fees.

        Argh. Heh.

    • by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:29PM (#5034122) Journal
      Soon graphics on consoles (even PC's) will be to the point that the artist makes a much bigger diference in image quality than the hardware on the console. So what then?

      Then the focus will move -- as it rightly should -- from the performance, resolution, and just plain Goshwow Factor(TM) of the hardware to the important things in the games: design, balance, artistry in textures and layout, and (dare I say it?) playability.

      I could even envision a time (once again, depending where you're reading this) where the biggest name on the box isn't the manufacturer, but the designer's or artist's. Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Will Wright... they're all names that might be recognized already. There are other talents out there too that probably deserve recognition.

      As it stands in the marketplace today, it's not enough about good gameplay and too much about pushing the product.

      As Console Wars go, this is a not unreasonable move on Sony's part to drive further nails into the Xbox's rather large and well-ventilated coffin. It's talk of the successor to the PlayStation 2, which is likely to blow the doors off off the current Xbox. It's FUD, pure and simple. It shows Sony [] has a lock on the market, if they can do that to Microsoft [].

      Sadly, even if people decide that the Console Wars aren't worth fighting, it still won't change much of gaming's status quo. Clever little puzzlers like Devil Dice [] disappear off radar because they don't get "enough attention" while Electronic Arts [] manages to dump yet another sports-themed game on the public year [] in [] and [] year [] out [] because the public can't get enough of it.

      (You want a cause for skyrocketing player salaries? Look no further than the unwashed masses, clamoring for tickets in the stadium, coverage on television, this year's hot merchandise, and every last tidbit of gossip and news they can get. The insanity ends when people finally decide the celebrities aren't worth the price of admission.)

  • Few people know it, but the PS2 is only backward-compatible with the PS1 due to a happy accident. As I understand it, the PS2 uses a PS1 CPU for its I/O and sound processing. When you pop a PS1 game into the system, the PS2 BIOS switches control of all the peripherals over to the PS1 CPU and busies itself emulating the PS1 graphics subsystem.

    With the radical changes inherent in a cell design (as nebulously defined as the term is right now), I can't see how they could pull off the same trick twice. In theory, if they managed to do a full software emulation of PS2, they'd get free PS1 support.
    • Why not just include a PSOne CPU in the PS3 as well? Heck, slap all three in there or figure out how to do emulation (if possible) within the PS3 proc for both PSOne and PS2.

    • Hardly an accident I would imagine. Considering that the other game consoles weren't, at the time, marketing backwards compatibility and considering that Sony's money comes not from the consoles, but from game sales. They would have been stupid to not continue to milk their existing base of games and of future games to be made for the PS1 platform.

      The PS1 cpu was also a RISC processor. This makes it an efficient IO controller as well as being a programmable one to boot.

      Hardly an accident. Most likely planned strategy to garner continued income from the current base of software for the PS1.

      As for Cell computing, it is essentially like a PVM or MPI system. Except with the kind of technology they are talking about for interconnects, it would be like comparing a homebuilt Beowulf cluster with 10mpbs connections to one which uses gigabit connections.

      With Cell computing, they are just taking the PS2 scheme of using a PS1 chip as IO to the next level. Only more generalized. With on-chip integration, they would save on circuit board real estate as well as power consumption. The system would also be blazingly fast.

      The only problem with multiple processors on the same chip die is the cost. :|

      But basically, with Cell computing, they would be able to easily emulate the PS2 with special enhancements. Heck, they would be able to emulate mulitple PS2s so multiple people can play on multiple screens, all from the same box.

      From their press releases, you would also be able to link up the various PS3's into one large computing unit.

      That in my mind makes buying the PS3 a very desirable proposition. Owning more than one might actually be rather cool. >:)

  • by LuxuryYacht ( 229372 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @01:40PM (#5033743) Homepage
    The Sony PlayStation 5, a 2,048-bit console featuring a 45-Ghz trinary processor, CineReal graphics booster with 2-gig biotexturing, and an RSP connector for 360-degree online-immersion play. See the specs at Playstation 5 []
  • Well I have always loved the Sony Playstation line since day one. There has always been a sense of dedication and ingenuity about them. The companies that they contract for games, and the games they make themselves. I only buy a few games here and there but they are the games the Sony puts on their Playstation,, like Tekken, Final Fantasy, Grand Tourismo, Mortalcombat 4 and Robotech. Sure some games come out on other platforms and I have played them on others-but it "feels" more or better ( you damn English majors;-P ) to play them on a Playstation. if they would only pay me for this creaking post! ;-) X2
  • For a while, Sony had been telling game developers that, next time, they wouldn't produce such a wierd machine. The PS2 has a MIPS processor, but most of the compute power is in the two vector engines, which are very wierd machines. To get good performance, parts of the game itself (such as the physics engine) need to be implemented for the vector engines.

    This is neither easy nor fun. It's the main reason that PS2 games sucked for the first year.

    The XBox is an Intel PC with a GEForce 3, so everybody knows how to program that. There was concern at Sony that developers might desert the PS2 for the XBox, since they could get product out the door faster that way. In response, Sony had been telling developers that, next time, their machine would be more standard.

    But now that the PS2 is selling well, and developers have learned how to deal with the wierd engine, maybe Sony is more confident in proposing a nonstandard architecture for the next time.

    In this context, "nonstandard architecture" means "doesn't run C". We're back in assembly language again. Probably a wierd assembly language. Post-superscalar assembly languages are painful, because they're used only for stuff you can't say in C. Try writing some MMX code to get a feel for this.

  • by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:04PM (#5033929) Homepage
    Anybody who remembers the hype from the PS2's pre-release will remember exactly how much pure FUD they spread. There will no doubt be PS2 defenders who are going to reply to me and defend every claim that Sony has made, but the fact is (and I've seen the real world comparisons) that the PS2 isn't half of what Sony promised. They made outrageous polygon claims and bandwidth promises, all of which were in better than ideal, and horribly unrealistic conditions, and they were assuming you weren't actually doing anything in the first place (rendering single, untextured, unshaded, flat surfaced polygons).

    There will be no doubt the next Playstation will be leaps and bounds beyond the PS2. It will probably be more powerful than either the Gamecube or the XBox combined. That happens. It's Moores Law (which is ending, or so they say).

    But the fact is no matter how good the PS3 will or will not be, Sony is going to feed us as much hype and fud as they can generate until we all have a PS3 sitting in front of us (disappointing us).

    And I'm not just trying to flame Sony, because I like many of the games I have for my PS2, as well as the fact that I can play all of my PS1 games on it. But the truth is, Sony as a gaming company really hasn't got any more of a clue than Microsoft. They only know how to market something, and it doesn't matter what it is. It can be anything from a featureless AM/FM radio the size of a quarter or it can be a really stupid mechanical Dog. If the engineers make it, Sony's marketing division can sell it to you.

    I predict the PS3 will be either black again, or silverish like the Sony Vvega televisions. I predict the controller will change very little (or not at all) though perhaps it will gain a couple of new useful features. Really the PS2 controller has reached a height of evolution that, love or or hate it, is hard to fault (unless it doesn't fit your well in your hands...) It will be a big leap in technology blah blah blah but anymore that isn't mattering the way it used to. I predict that the first year of games will be rushed sequals to PS2 games and shoveled versions of PC games or XBox/Gamecube games that outshined the PS2 versions (this year will be the year the GCN and XBox really show their technical superiority as the developers have come to grips with the systems).

    Most importantly, you can expect television commercials, signs, radio spots, magazine spots (even in no-gaming mag-rags), you can expect web-banners, signs in malls, signs in fast-food-joints, and basically all of the crap we've become used to, only pushed to a level only Sony has the stomach to do.

    Share and enjoy.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb