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Sony Ditching Cell Architecture For Next PlayStation?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the one-trick-pony dept.

AMD 276

RogueyWon writes "According to reports in Kotaku and Forbes, Sony is planning to ditch the Cell processor that powered the PlayStation 3 and may be planning to power the console's successor using a more conventional PC-like architecture provided by AMD. In the PS3's early years, Sony was keen to promote the benefits of its Cell processor, but the console's complicated architecture led to many studios complaining that it was difficult to develop for."

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Doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

xaoslaad (590527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211133)

Won't buy it. They screwed us with Linux on the PS3. Their consoles are done in this house.

Re:Doesn't matter (-1, Offtopic)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211239)

I have a PS3, it will be the last Sony product that I ever buy.

Sony is an asshole company.

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211419)

Seriously, fuck those guys! DRM included on audio CDs, fraudulently advertising their product as able to use Linux and then disabling that feature ex post facto, fake astroturf blog ad campaigns that insult human intelligence, spending money to purchase censorship laws and immoral copyright extensions, suing tinkerers playing with products they legally own.

Fuck Sony! They are an icon of much that is wrong with the world right now.

Sony is what you get when you allow companies to grow too large in scope. I try my best (imperfectly, of course) to not give money to companies that are large. There are almost always smaller alternatives that won't fuck you 8 ways from Sunday with corruption, greed, and control like a large company like Sony can't help but do.

Please help kill companies like Sony by decentralizing your purchasing power! Next time you're thinking about buying a game licensed by Sony, check out what smaller, independent alternatives like the Humble Bundle guys are doing!

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Informative)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211609)

And you know what? The public have spoken: People buy less from Sony, and Sony is losing money. [reuters.com]

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212163)

Thanks for that post, I'm grinning.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212477)

Too bad the Playstation division is quite effectively catching up to the Xbox360's early lead. It's their other division that people aren't buying from...

Re:Doesn't matter (3, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211683)

I have always thought Sony as a high-quality brand, but frankly the company has quite a lot on its shoulders already. From the top of my head:

- exploding laptop batteries
- hard-to-service laptops which require bunch of proprietary little drivers
- rootkit music CDs
- disabling "other OS" in PS3
- screwing with PSN customers
- cranking up prices of Whitney Houston's music after the girl died

I personally have not established any boycott campaign against them, I just hear these things. After all, Sony has jumped the shark already in terms of cutting-edge hardware - Korea is the new Japan, with Samsung and LG making all the cool stuff.

Re:Doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211913)

I agree with you. Sony makes good products.

You have nicely listed many of the reasons why they are a morally bankrupt corporation that doesn't give a damn about their customers.

On the one hand, it would be difficult to point out corporations that aren't, on the other hand, perhaps we can have an influence on corporations in general if we refuse to do business with the ones that screw us over directly.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211905)

I have a PS3, it will be the last Sony product that I ever buy.

Sony is an asshole company.

I bet you said that after the rootkit fiasco as well.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212371)

I have a PS3, but I bought it and nearly all my games used. I have no intention of directly supporting them in any way.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212645)

I have a PS3, but I bought it and nearly all my games used. I have no intention of directly supporting them in any way.

We're talking about a Japanese company here. Profit is not the point, market share is. Don't think you're not supporting them already.

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211505)

Insightful?! Come on, /. How does this user's gaming/buying preference and overall irrational heated opinion of a consumer electronics company add any insight whatsoever to the fact that said company is opting to use an AMD chip in their next product?
 
Please try your best to stop continuing to cheapen the already out-dated rating system as well as feeding blatantly obvious karma whores. Shameful.

Re:Doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211919)

There's nothing shameful about the /. masses agreeing that Sony abuses its customer base. Perhaps what is truly insightful is how quickly the comment leapt up to +5 and stayed there, implying that far more people agree than disagree.

If you look to /. for balanced, impartial fact-based discourse... keep looking! And if you ever find such an impossible thing, do let us know.

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211509)

Won't buy it. They screwed us with Linux on the PS3. Their consoles are done in this house.

You seriously believe people who wanted to use Linux on the PS3 are a significant market for Sony. And that they really care about what you have to say about that. How adorable.

Re:Doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211579)

It is more a matter of principal. Personally I only briefly used Linux on the PS3, but the fact they removed the option after promising people it would be there as a selling point is just dishonest business. I don't like doing business with dishonest people. The only games I have bought for PS3 since then are the console exclusives. I don't know yet if I will bother with a PS4, but if I don't, it will be solely because of the Linux thing even though I didn't use it.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211731)

I don't know yet if I will bother with a PS4, but if I don't, it will be solely because of the Linux thing even though I didn't use it.

For being a matter of principal, you don't seem to be fully adherent to it...

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212043)

The principle is that in so far as I can avoid it without hurting others I do. I want to support a game studio that makes a quality game, the fact it is only on a platform that I don't like the maker of is secondary to supporting the quality work of an innocent third party. It used to be my platform of choice that I purchased all my games on, but I have switched to PC where available or XBox 360 when not. I'd say that is the best I can do in terms of sticking it to Sony's Playstation group while not hurting those who made the poor choice of developing only on that platform.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212083)

Oh sorry, about the console itself. I am not one to nay say a platform until I see it. If they make a compelling enough deal, and if they are selling at a loss, then I would not be opposed to purchasing one to tinker with. Most of their profits come from games and if I don't buy games on their platform, they don't make much money. I'm a technologist. I get technology to toy with it and see what it can do, even if I don't get games for it as my platform of choice.

Re:Doesn't matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212097)

"matter of principal"? What's that, the physical substance that high school administrators are composed of? Why would you adhere yourself to that? Is it sticky, or do you have a use an adhesive?

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211895)

Matter of principle.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211983)

Thank you.

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211787)

Maybe not, but they also gave the finger to universities using PS3 clusters [wikipedia.org] . The fact that Sony participated assisted said universities with setting up these clusters speaks volumes as to how ridiculously contradictory Sony's response was when they blocked OtherOS.

These types of applications are what attracted me to the PS3, not because I necessarily wanted to do this myself, but the fact that the console was powerful and flexible enough to be used in this way was very attractive to me. Most people prefer having an option to having the option taken away out of nowhere.

It's as if Sony gets a list of options and always picks the one that will most piss off their customers. They're sabotaging themselves...

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

BStroms (1875462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212085)

You have a lot of things you can be angry at Sony at, but I doubt the universities cared about the removal. How many of them that were using PS3 clusters needed them to access the PSN or play the latest games? You could continue to use linux as long as you wanted if you didn't care about these features.

Re:Doesn't matter (3, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212453)

So, where were the universities going to get replacement hardware when their machines start breaking down? Newer consoles that come with the firmware update blocking Linux and can't be downgraded? PS3 Slim consoles that never had Linux at all (officially speaking; they can run it just fine in reality)?

The only thing that stops me from hoping that Sony dies in a fire is the risk of what level of unethical behavior it will permit their direct competitors to stoop to, when there's one less alternative for people to switch to. I'm under no delusion that any megacorp is going to behave any more ethically than its bottom line dictates. The disgusting thing is that Sony can't even measure up to that.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212457)

The problem lies in the fact that they can no longer replace the individual units if they fail, as new units come with the new firmware, so many were pretty much forced to abandon their development, as they were dealing with dozens of units that were running under load for long periods of time.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212459)

If they ever want to replace failed units in the cluster or had planned to expand the cluster they are now out of luck.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212299)

The fact that Sony participated assisted said universities with setting up these clusters

They did? Do you have a citation stating that Sony was helping set these clusters up?

The earlier PS3s, all the way up until they introduced the Slim models (and possibly later), were sold by Sony as loss leaders... they intended to recoup that money selling games since they gets license money for every PS3 game produced. Therefore, intentionally selling PS3s in large quantities to places that weren't going to buy games would be just stupid.

Re:Doesn't matter (4, Informative)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212499)

It's in my link.

In Summer 2007, Dr. Gaurav Khanna, a professor in the Physics Department of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth independently built a message-passing based cluster using 8 PS3s running Fedora Linux. This cluster was built with support from Sony Computer Entertainment and was the first such cluster that generated published scientific results. Dubbed as the "PS3 Gravity Grid", this PS3 cluster performs astrophysical simulations of large supermassive black holes capturing smaller compact objects

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211945)

Significant not in number, but in the fact that they dismantled the console's security in less than a year of concentrated effort.

Negligible in numbers, sure, but it destroyed the image of invulnerability and supreme competency they were trying to use.

Re:Doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212145)

PS3 Clusters [slashdot.org] were already covered here many years ago, where Sony donated PS3 consoles specifically for use as cluster nodes using OtherOS. It was cheap promotion for them, which most assuredly led to a few sales of multiple consoles to curious geeks. I don't know how many "a few sales" actually turned out to be, but I'd safely guesstimate 10,000 units at the least. Enough to spark class-action lawsuits that were clumsily thrown out of court, after which Sony updated its EULA to remove users' right to sue the company [arstechnica.com] .

So yes, people wanted to use Linux on the PS3, which Sony initially embraced with open arms. Then they turned around and legally told all these users to fuck off and die. Perhaps I'm a bit too zen for the average sucker, but if the only way you (Sony) can stop people from suing you is by forcing them to digitally sign a contact with a covenant not to sue, I'd say you fail at business. It's kind of like when little kids say "I can hit you, but the rule is you can't hit me back"... those little fuckers need to be curb stomped, and so does Sony.

Re:Doesn't matter (3, Funny)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211577)

Market research clearly supports your theory that removing linux had any effect whatsoever in how well it performed.

No, really, it did! It shows that all the 5 people that used that feature stopped buying sony! That'll show them!!!

Re:Doesn't matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211621)

In all fairness, "5 people" represents roughly half of the PS3 consoles sold...

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212329)

Market research clearly supports your theory that removing linux had any effect whatsoever in how well it performed.

No, really, it did! It shows that all the 5 people that used that feature stopped buying sony! That'll show them!!!

Are you including the government agencies and universities using them as linux cluster nodes? You're a fucking idiot.

Re:Doesn't matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212497)

No, he won't, because those companies aren't forced to upgrade to the latest firmware so that they can play online. You're a fucking ignorant idiot.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212637)

We'll when just one of those customers buys around 1500 PS3's that is one hell of a customer to lose.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212161)

You seem to be confusing Sony with GeoShit [geohot.us] and Marcan the arrogant asshole [mailto] . Fortunately both work for companies whose products I have no intention of ever using.

--
Glass

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212381)

I would consider purchasing it, it if was made from the organs of SONY executives.

Re:Doesn't matter (2)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212653)

What's the alternative? XBox is obviously out if you're concerned with a parent company's treatment of the Linux user base. Wii doesn't seem to be considered a competing platform to XBox or PS3. i.e., different target audience. Linux PC gaming doesn't seem to be taking off too fast either due to Windows applications barrier to entry. ???

What are the developers complaining for? (4, Funny)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211193)

We all know Sony will just remove the cell processor functionality in a few updates time.

And there was much rejoicing (1)

frinsore (153020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211217)

I can practically hear game programmers everywhere cheering.

Why not PC + 360? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211231)

If game programmers dislike the Cell, why can't they just convince their bosses to target their next project at PC and Xbox 360 instead of PS3 and Xbox 360?

Re:Why not PC + 360? (4, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211255)

If game programmers dislike the Cell, why can't they just convince their bosses to target their next project at PC and Xbox 360 instead of PS3 and Xbox 360?

$.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (3, Insightful)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211333)

$$$ more like. Contracts -- Sony locks in games as Sony exclusives for much moola (so do Nintendo and Microsoft).

-GiH

Programmer time is money (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211351)

If they need to put the $ in excu$e: "It would cost more programmer time, which is money, to get the same performance out of a PlayStation 3 that one could get out of a PC."

Re:Programmer time is money (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211447)

Not that much money. If I paid 10 programmers 100k for a year to do the PS3 port (so much wrong with that statement, but whatever), and you get $20 (again, so much wrong) when all is said and done per unit, I only need to sell 50k units to support the costs of another platform. Everything after that is green. On a AAA title, your marketing alone will push 50k units to unsuspecting customers, and you're generally not marketing to specific platforms (unless that platform is helping out w/ the cost).

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211529)

Most of the time they do. A lot of developers just went XBox, XBox first, or dual release with the PS3 going out "however the hell it turns out I won’t bother optimize for that mess".

THAT backlash, plus the fact that all that amazing specialized R&D resulted in a chip that just got outperformed by an off the shelf Intel CPU (a year before the PS3 ended launching) likely made Sony realize it was a waste of time to keep pushing proprietary CPU architectures.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (4, Informative)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211537)

As a game developer who has made a game for the 360 and PS3, I can tell you that my biggest complaints about the ps3 were the memory limitations (cpu and gpu memory is separated), the horrible software for the devkits, and the devkits themselves, which suck so much power that they require you to run air conditioning even in the winter.

The main difference that you hit when making a cross-platform title is DirectX (d3d) versus OpenGL ES. Those libraries need to understand the lowlying architecture, but they pretty much take care of everything for the developer.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212081)

I'll join you on the Sony SDKs being horrible. I still think the SN debugger is the best debugger I've used for multithreaded debugging. I'd also venture that you weren't a particularly serious PS3 dev house if you were using Sony's GL implementation, we ditched that shit the second GCM became available.
The Cell architecture itself isn't difficult to program for, Sony just screwed themselves by coming out a year later then the 360. The big issue is that developing parallel software on the 360 is in a homogeneous environment. Game devs (myself included) started building engines around those constraints. After we had 360 devkits for a year or so, Sony comes by with PS3s and they are different at a fundamental level. We already have over a year of engine design and development into the 360 and we have commitments on both consoles. Now what? You can't afford the time to throw it all out and re-design from the ground up. It also didn't help that Sony's SDK was completely in flux before the launch - and for some time after. The end result is any game that wasn't first party was a horrible compromise on the PS3 at first. As time went on we changed large parts of our engine to be more PS3 friendly and it helped quite a bit. It also didn't help that the PS3's GPU is about 15%-25% slower on average and that the OS takes up a bunch more memory then the 360's does.
All in all, the PS3 was a clusterfuck for the first few years and still hasn't recovered.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (5, Informative)

frinsore (153020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212323)

While fitting the game into the local and main memory is a pain it can usually be mitigated by proper planning. Developing your memory footprint for PS3 can immediately be translated to the 360's unified memory but going the other way is a special hell. While it's true that some engines are main memory intensive that you have to resort to crazy tricks (like streaming your audio from local memory to main) in general it's not too bad as there aren't two different implementations.

But going from 3 ppu cores to 2 ppu cores and 6 spus does cause a problem if you're anywhere near utilizing the CPUs. Generally it's easier to optimize the game until as much as possible runs on 2 ppu cores and specific tasks run on the spus (as the 360 gains the benefit from the optimizations too).

It sounds like you haven't worked on the PS3 in a while. Sony has actually stepped up the game and the ps3 sdk actually surpasses the xdk in some regards. Most of the complaints I hear about the ps3 sdk are more related to windows oriented people not understanding the unix mindset. And the ps3 dev kits are now tiny and sleek and not the 2U heater units of old.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211597)

Because developing for PC is even harder than Cell. Cell still has a known platform, where as PC opens up a whole new can of crazy. That said, I wish they would.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212539)

You're talking about two different things - developing for PC is hard because the hardware varies from person to person. Developing for Cell is hard is because you have to do a lot of manual tweaks to eke out every bit of performance because the architecture/compiler is too immature to do it for you. If you have a stable platform based on a stable and well known architecture, you should have far fewer problems. Anyhow, most game programming is going to GPU these days, with only things like data structures and AI on CPU (and I know someone who implemented A* [wikipedia.org] in CUDA [I think], so maybe even AI's days are numbered).

Re:Why not PC + 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212543)

Wat? Just pick a standard processor + ram + vid, lock with some extra hardware and you have a gaming console.

PC development is about as known as development can get

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211639)

They do it for the money, but there is a reason some games that appear on the 3 platforms end up having the PS3 as the "worse" version. Most recently skyrim, but fallout 3, for example, ran and looked better on the xbox 360 and the pc.

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211985)

If game programmers dislike the Cell, why can't they just convince their bosses to target their next project at PC and Xbox 360 instead of PS3 and Xbox 360?

Why target PCs running Windows if Microsoft itself is not interested in Windows PCs as gaming platform? The last AAA title MS released for Windows was Halo 2 six years ago!

Re:Why not PC + 360? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212297)

I'm just guessing, but it may be because Microsoft Windows is still the standard OS for most desktop PCs with the ability to render high-resolution graphics. Microsoft has never been a huge game developer for PCs. Heck, they're not even a really big developer for the Xbox 360.

POWER7 baby. (4, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211241)

Probably. But they'll probably use a POWER7 based CPU instead of an AMD x86 CPU. Given how much Cell influenced POWER7, I'd actually say that's a huge likelyhood they'd go POWER instead of x86.

Re:POWER7 baby. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211395)

I would hope they take a custom IBM power cpu and a custom NVIDIA gpu for backwards compatibility. If they don't i'd probably be hesitant to purchase it, if at all. I think backwards compatibility will play a big role in my next game system purchase. I can jump to xbox if there is no backwards compatiblity.

Currently have all 3 system, with Wii and PS3 getting the most love... Xbox is my sons...he had to play Halo w/ friends...ha ha ha

Re:POWER7 baby. (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211929)

You're counting on Sony to provide backwards compatibility? Didn't you learn anything from the PS3's history?

Re:POWER7 baby. (2)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212515)

They did for while - if you got a launch PS3. No one else did. Microsoft didn't even try, and it doesn't seem to have hurt them. So Sony responded, and removed it.

Re:POWER7 baby. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211523)

Probably. But they'll probably use a POWER7 based CPU instead of an AMD x86 CPU. Given how much Cell influenced POWER7, I'd actually say that's a huge likelyhood they'd go POWER instead of x86.

No, not a huge likelihood. You are forgetting that we are talking about a company that has a lot of dumb ideas (and therefore loses lots of money). Using a POWER7 derivative would make too much sense for Sony to use it, just as it would have made too much sense for Sony to adopt Xbox1's unified memory architecture for the PS3 and not repeat the video RAM bottleneck. But what did Sony do? Separate system and video RAMs -- just like the PS2.

Next thing you tell me is that Sony will release a Vita phone to actually compete with the iPhone instead of that current PS Pocket app for Android schizophrenia.

Re:POWER7 baby. (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211653)

AMD could use IBM-POWER7 for CPU together with their own bleeding edge GPU, might look bizzare, but also makes sense..

Re:POWER7 baby. (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212205)

POWER7/8 with AMD engineering and GPU tech?

I'll buy like 9.

Makes Perfect Sense (1)

bacon.frankfurter (2584789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211257)

...a more conventional PC-like architecture provided by AMD.

So, then I'll just dump $300.00+ on the next generation PlayStation, and ~$60.00 on a game, when I could just play the $60.00 game on my PC, which I already have.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (2)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211415)

You mean like how you could run all those Xbox games on your PC?

Playstation 4 Released with Zero Games at Launch (5, Funny)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211259)

TOKYO, Japan -- Sony released their heavily anticipated and much hyped Playstation 4 Entertainment System today, but the games are nowhere to be found. Developers agree the hardware specs are extremely impressive, but nobody knows how to actually make games for it. Thankfully, the latest member of this venerable line of consoles is backwards compatible with the games of all previous generations.

"I think we got it perfect this time," says Sony chairman Kaz Hirai, "we expect our internal studios won't figure out how to make games for at least another few months. Third party developers should take even longer. We figure the PS4 should be hitting its stride right when the PS5 hits the market several years down the road."

How difficult will it be to develop games for that one? When asked the question, Hirai rubs his hands together, a gleeful smile spreading across his face.

"Impossible."

Re:Playstation 4 Released with Zero Games at Launc (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211569)

Good parody. When I think about the PS3's processor, I always remember them bragging at launch that devs will still be trying to optimize for the PS3 when it's lifetime is over. I'm still astounded that they thought that was something to brag about.

Or (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211267)

Game developers too stupid to deal with complex systems.

Sorry, but 'it's complex hardware' excuse pissed me off.

Re:Or (3, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211459)

Game developers too stupid to deal with complex systems.

Sorry, but 'it's complex hardware' excuse pissed me off.

Right. Because parallel programming on a processor with completely manual cache management is just so easy. The supercomputer people find it tricky too.

I guess you're just so much smarter then everyone else.

Re:Or (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212379)

Right. Because parallel programming on a processor with completely manual cache management is just so easy. The supercomputer people find it tricky too.

I don't know if the systems I work on qualify as supercomputers, or even as super, but I design programs to operate in SMP environment in systems with several levels of noncoherent caches.

I don't whine about it. Please tell me I'm smarter than everyone else.

Re:Or (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211493)

It was less that, and more that learning and targeting that platform simply wasn't worth it. All that effort (i.e. additional cost) earns you some niceties, to be sure, but also makes a multi-platform release much more difficult and costly.

Arguably that was even the goal of the cell: to provide a technical carrot for publishers to make really awesome PS3 only titles using the advanced hardware. It wasn't a bad idea, actually, but ultimately the PS3 came out too late and too expensive. Everyone had an Xbox 360, no one had and Xbox 360, and so no developers were willing to sink the time, effort and money into developing for a platform that nobody had. (This has, of course, changed but the damage was done.)

Re:Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211855)

It is more related to porting to the PC and to the XBOX - which might make more business sense than program exclusively for the SPEs of the Cell (or even worse, do both).

Programming on the Cell is not easy, believe me. Each execution unit is very limited, memory-wise, which limits the amount of useful stuff you can do without synchronizing stuff again - made by a bunch of DMA calls.

I don't know about the sony SDK for it, but IBM compilers for the Cell supercomputers don't really help either...

It is a pain (5, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211311)

I programmed a Cell processor (for HPC, not gaming) a few years ago, and it was definitely a pain in the butt compared to just targeting a multi-core x86.

The problem, at least back then, was that you had to write explicit code to have the various cores communicate with each other (DMA transfers, etc.)

I imagine compilers/libraries/SDK's have improved the situation since then, but really the modest performance premium offered by the chip just wasn't worth the hassle.

Re:It is a pain (0)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211593)

Sony's never been known for having good software to work with. Microsoft is apparently quite a lot better about that. So I wouldn't bet that the PS3 ever gone anything to help with that situation. At least, not from Sony.

Will game devs prefer common architecture? (1)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211341)

Not being a game developer I wonder what game devs would prefer, a PS4 chip architecture that is similar to other consoles/PC architecture but with the cost of starting with new dev kits/libraries, or sticking with Cell-based architecture but you still have big differences with PC/Xbox Next/Wii U. Seems to me the initial pain of working with new libraries and dev kits would be a time consumer at the beginning, but the long term gain of easier portability would be worth it in the end. Devs, what would you prefer?

Re:Will game devs prefer common architecture? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211477)

I thought the reason the 360 hit the ground running was the Dev kits were good and the programmers just had to get to speed with the console. They got 90% out machine right away and took another few years to wring the rest out.
Where as the PS3 had crap tools and was much harder to code for. The idea being the first games got about 60% out of the kit, then around the 80% it surpasses what the 360 is capable of and only the best can get the full 100%. This give the console a long life and lets products get better. I picked the percent out of the air. but the point is the ps3 has more potential in the very long run.

Re:Will game devs prefer common architecture? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211649)

In the long run? You mean after a year, when PC hardware makes the console look lame? That long run?

Re:Will game devs prefer common architecture? (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211697)

XBox 360 was DirectX based. It was/is basically a PC with fixed spec's that hooked up to a TV, so the same stuff they'd been using for PCs for a long time was the stuff they used for XBox 360.

Re:Will game devs prefer common architecture? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211611)

Very few game devs are PS3-exclusive. The majority of them already have to deal with a few different architectures. Anything that brings one of the outliers closer to the rest of the pack is probably good for them.

Re:Will game devs prefer common architecture? (4, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211725)

> Not being a game developer I wonder what game devs would prefer,

You are asking two questions:

What do game devs prefer for software?
What do game devs prefer for hardware?

When I used to work with PS3 developers -- they almost _always_ lead their development on the XBox 360. It was _very_ rare was it to see a studio lead on the PS3 -- but those that did -- tended to have a better engine for load-balancing at the end of the day (it is easier to scale down, then scale up.)

Easier: Multi-Core --> Few-Core (PS3 --> Xbox360)
Harder: Few-Core --> Multi-Core (XBox 360 --> PS3)

Microsoft is a software company,
Sony is a hardware company.

The tools MS provided were _perceived_ as being easier and better. (I can and will not comment on the reality.)

WRT hardware, game devs appreciated the power the PS3 + SPUs even if it involved the crap load of work to get it running 100% load-balancing. Having to worry about LHS (Load-Hit-Stores) was a total PITA for PS3 developers -- memory access was pretty much ignored on the XBox 360. The bigger problem was Sony using a 64-bit OS (all pointers were 64-bits !!) when the dam console only has 512 MB address space?!?! This kind of "Sony ignorance/arrogance" being out of touch with developers was not uncommon.

PC + Xbox Developers tend to want a AMD/Intel approach to hardware for _ease of _use. Sony / Nintendo developers tend to prefer multi-core / dedicated CPUs for everything for _performance_.

One or the other isn't wrong -- just a different focus.

Yeah, should be obvious by now. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211359)

The cell didn't live up to it's expectations long before the PS3's launch. They had to shoehorn in a conventional nvidia GPU at the last minute. (In a manner that causes a lot of odd development problems, and cripples the PS3's already limited memory)

The cell is just one in a long line of "Hey lets use lots of general purpose CPUs for graphics!" ideas that never panned out. Didn't work out for Intel with Larabee either.

I don't think those asymmetrical vector units strapped on to the PPC core have been particularly popular either. It seems that, in general, that offloading tasks to your "computer unit" (Formally called a GPU) has proven to be a much better solution.

I'm guessing the next playstation will have a conventional CPU+gpu design with shared high speed memory (Like the xbox).. Maybe it will be some cool unified tech from AMD. Maybe it will be a multi-core arm cpu, or maybe it will be conventional x86.

In the past half-decade PPC seems to be going nowhere in the consumer space.

Just What We Need (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211433)

I am an AMD fan and all but we don't need another way for Sony to 'Bulldozer' over previous functionality.

NIH Syndrome (5, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211445)

I've shipped PS2 games and worked with numerous developers that have shipped PS3 games.

Sony's problem is the Not-Invented-Here syndrome. They have yet to learn the lesson that Apple mastered years ago in the 80's -- use off the shelf commodity parts!! Why? They will become DIRT cheap in a few years. Why waste millions of dollars investing into R&D of new hardware when in 5 years somebody else will have a no-name version of it at a fraction of the price??

e.g.
Sony is _slowly_ learning this lesson. After how many man-years of a buggy PS2 GS (Graphics Synthesizer) that couldn't even properly do z-tesing (!?!/!) the PS3 RSX is (mostly) a GTX 7800+
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSX_'Reality_Synthesizer [wikipedia.org] '

When the PS2 first came out everyone bitched how difficulty it was, yet it was a beautiful thing to see all of its 7 CPUs working full speed load-balancing the system. It laid the foundation that multi-core programming was the future. When the PS3 came out everyone bitched how even more difficult it would be. Developers just sucked it up and now we are even seeing A.I. running on the SPE/SPUs on second-gen and 3rd-gen PS3 games! That's pretty cool to see a modern game engine utilizing every core it can.

Using stock parts: CPU + GPU is a great way to minimize costs. You don't get the same performance benefits of true dedicated design but the commodity parts are cheap enough that the pricing curve naturally takes care of that. Kind of a no-brainer if Sony decides to use an AMD or Intel CPU for the PS4.

References:

See: PS3 games list & SPE usages
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=184843 [neogaf.com]

i.e.

Killzone 2 utilizes roughly only 60 per cent of the SPU's.
"It's incredible to see huge levels and see the deferred rendering and note that on all the SPU's, even on the heaviest load were coming up to about 60%," Haynes said. "They weren't coming close to maxing out. They had about 40% of space before they started tripping or saw slow down on some of the processes."

and

Killzone 3 uses 100% of SPU's.
we're having a footprint of a level that's ten times bigger than the average Killzone 2 level. Killzone 2 was not a small game, but that was as far as we could push it back then.

Re:NIH Syndrome (3, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212013)

Apple learned that in the 80's? Haha

Re:NIH Syndrome (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212549)

They have yet to learn the lesson that Apple mastered years ago in the 80's -- use off the shelf commodity parts!! Why? They will become DIRT cheap in a few years.

You mean like the A5 processor?

Cell Failed (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211551)

Remember the launch? IBM, Sony and Toshiba were going to put Cell processors in everything from cheap consumer electronics to number crunching supercomputers. In reality, IBM sold a few Cell blades, Sony put one in each PS3 and that's about it.

Re:Cell Failed (5, Interesting)

DigitalDreg (206095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212547)

Disclaimer: I used to teach Cell programming classes for people who were looking to do HPC on the blades.

Cell failed. But the reasons behind the failure are more interesting.

The obvious answer is that it was hard to program. On a single chip you had the PowerPC processor and 8 SPUs. Communication was through mailboxes for small messages and DMA transfers for larger messages. To get the most out of a chip you had to juggle all 9 processor elements at the same time, try to vectorize all of your ops, and keep the memory moving while you were doing computation. That is the recipe for success for most architectures - keeping everything as utilized as possible. But it is also hard to do on most architectures, and the embedded nature of Cell made it that much more difficult.

There were better software tools in the works for people who didn't want to drop down to the SPU intrinsic level to program. There were better chips in the works too; more SPUs, stronger PowerPC cores, and better communications with main memory. Those things did not come to fruition because IBM was looking to cut expenses to keep profits high (instead of boosting revenue). The Cell project was killed when a new VP known for cost cutting came in. We finally had a good Cell blade to sell (QS22 - two chips, 32GB RAM, fully pipelined double precision, etc.) and that lasted four months before the project got whacked. And we lost a lot of good people as a result. (That VP, Bob Moffat, was part of the Galleon insider trading scandal.)

So yes, Cell failed. But not necessarily for the obvious reasons. IBM has been on a great cost cutting binge the past few years - it lets them meet their earnings per share targets. But it causes collateral damage.

It makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211607)

After investing A LOT of money on a new processor it makes no sense to move to a different architecture. Because:

- PS3 games and mostly PSN games are compiled for CELL.
- Now game developers knows the CELL architecture, people really think SONY wants to design a new processor and receive all the criticism again?
- CELL is scalable, they designed it to be able to grow its power a 100% (literally). And this scale matches with the new manufacturing possibilities, and with the new software needs.
- It can work with an AMD graphics card. I mean, both things are not exclusive. The problem with PS3 is the RAM not the processor architecture.
- PS3 is a console not a PC, and CELL was designed for games and multimedia. Something Microsoft knows perfectly, and because of that, they stole the CELL design to create IBM Xenon. There are even books about that story ...
- PS VITA use ARM because: 1)Battery needs, 2)Apple iOS. Otherwise it would use a simplified version of PS3 CELL for sure.
- This is a rumor.

PS4 will move to a different architecture only if SONY executives are crazy. In my opinion this is a new "rumor" strategy by SONY, trying to

1) Make people desire a console that does not exist (ala Apple).
2) Drive Microsoft crazy.

OK, XBOX is the only good team at Microsoft but remember:

- They stole the PS3 design to create XBOX, now SONY will be very careful.
- They bought Kinect to an Israel start-up, they are not very creative.
- XBOX software is mostly focused to USA, and there is a lot of business out of USA.
- Nintendo is still playing (this is amazing, but still now Nintendo is the most important game company in the world)

Do they have fresh ideas for XBOX 720? Maybe, but I won't be very optimistic.

Re:It makes no sense (1)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211921)

"PS VITA use ARM because: 1)Battery needs, 2)Apple iOS. Otherwise it would use a simplified version of PS3 CELL for sure." er... what does iOS have to do with anything? unless this is some kind of subtle Android Fanboy thing.

Re:It makes no sense (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211997)

Counterpoint: The prime researcher and developer of the Cell architecture abandoned it as a dead end.

The return of the original Xbox? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211785)

I guess we should dust off our old Xbox hacking skills if that's the case.

I mean, if the Playstation 4 is going AMD Fusion, it'll probably be x86 with GPU, and we all know the fun that was had breaking into the original Xbox (which was originally done with AMD parts before they switched to Intel)

Of course, they could always take the lessons of the Xbox and fix it so it won't be a problem. Oh wait, it's Sony, nevermind.

Re:The return of the original Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211991)

A good point, since the PS3's arcane architecture is one of the reasons why the PS3 still isn't fully hacked yet. The PS3 is a testament to the fact that DRM can work, mathematical theories be damned. When Sony switches over to a more conventional architecture they may find their new platform hacked a year after release.

GPU is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39211849)

Like it or not, significant performance increases aren't going to come from the standard cpu achitecture. The cell, while difficult to program, has advantages over x86. Just watch as more and more GPU's, which Cell provided, are used to increase performance in PC based systems. It's expensive at the moment but will come down in price. I fell the Cell was just ahead of it's time or ahead of the programmers time...

Not enough memory per Cell (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212007)

The trouble with the Cell processor is that there's not enough memory per processor. Each of the little processors (the "SPE" units) in the PS3 only has 256KB of RAM. That's not enough to store a frame. It's not enough to store a game level, or a significant amount of geometry. It's more like having a number of DSPs available.

This forces redesigning the program to work in batch mode. A batch job is one frame, but it's still a batch job. Data for one frame cycle is sequentially pumped through one or more SPEs. There's not much random access, because access to main memory from an SPE is in big blocks, transferred in the background.

This is both limiting and a huge pain. Especially when the competition is selling shared-memory multiprocessors. I used to do game physics engines, and when the PS3 came out, my reaction was "I'm glad I sold off that technology and got out of the business." I knew some people at Sony's SCEA R&D center, and they basically threw all their smart people at trying to figure out how to use the Cell effectively. Many of the early games really ran in the main CPU, with the SPEs managing things that didn't affect gameplay, like particles for fire, explosions, smoke, and such.

If each SPE came with a few megabytes of RAM, instead of only 256K, it wouldn't be so bad. Then you could probably have the physics engine in one CPU, the AI in another, the background object management in a third, and so on. But each of those things needs more state than whatever fraction of 256K is left over after the code is loaded.

There's a long history of Cell-like architectures in the supercomputer field. The BBN Butterfly, the NCube Hypercube, and the Connection Machine also consisted of a large number of processors, each with a small memory. None were successful. One of the lessons of multiprocessing computer architecture to date is that the two extremes - shared memory multiprocessors and networked clusters of separate computers - are useful. None of the partially-shared machines have been successful. The Cell is the only one ever to be mass-produced.

Great for audio, though. The audio guys like having their own processor, and audio processing really is a streaming process of tight loops without much state.

Re:Not enough memory per Cell (1)

Jackazz (572024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212641)

The trouble with the Cell processor is that there's not enough memory per processor. Each of the little processors (the "SPE" units) in the PS3 only has 256KB of RAM. That's not enough to store a frame. It's not enough to store a game level, or a significant amount of geometry. It's more like having a number of DSPs available.

256K of memory should be enough for anyone!!

Re:Not enough memory per Cell (2)

Narishma (822073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212673)

Then you could probably have the physics engine in one CPU, the AI in another, the background object management in a third, and so on.

That's a bad way to design your engine, even in a homogeneous multi-core system like a PC. You'll be wasting a lot of resources because only a few of those tasks will require a whole processor for themselves, so it'll be idling most of the time. A better approach is to break down your engine into a large number of small more or less self contained tasks, then implement a jobs system that takes those tasks and runs them on whatever processor is free at that moment. This is how most current high end game engines work and it works well on both the PS3 and the Xbox/PC.

Game Software Architecture (1)

Tim12s (209786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212165)

The PS3 has probably provided the biggest software leap in game architecture in the last 3 years. This is in comparison to typical XBox or PC platform. I argue this only because the forced paradigm shift to fully utilize the Cell architecture should be directly transferable to multi threaded programming on an 8 core AMD/Intel processor.

The PS3 teams that fully utilize Cell would probably lead the way in the next 10 years on PC platforms.

Memory Limitations (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212277)

If Sony hadn't spent so much money on that complicated CELL processor, maybe they could have afforded to add an extra 64MB of RAM to the incredibly limiting memory ceiling. That's where so many of the difficulties come from.

Good, it's the worst mistake in the PS3 (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212389)

It took years for PS3 to get good games. It was 10x harder to work with than the X360 or Wii.

Uncharted 3 is a thing of beauty (for a console) and Naughty Dog is squeezing amazing performance out (for a console), but they're the best devs Sony has and it took 5 years. Was a new proprietary architecture that works unlike anything else on the market worth the billions of losses and the ramp-up time? No. Xbox 360 has power parity (better in some areas, worse in others, but you can do about the same games on both) even though it's 'just' a little 3 core PC in a box.

What saved them was the Blu-ray drive (and the death of HD-DVD) and that Sony has better dev teams than MS. One SCE Santa Monica Division is worth more than all the Cell processors put together.

what I would have suggested for the architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39212603)

What I would have done, would be to have had an emulation layer ontop of the cell platform that takes advantage of the cell processor, but translates from CISC or RISC processor designs.

Perfect Sense (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 2 years ago | (#39212669)

It makes perfect sense to ditch Cell -- The only reason they needed Cell 5-7 years ago was that GPUs were not yet general-purpose enough (at least, off-the-shelf ones) to handle all the types of calculations that you'd want to do gracefully. Fusion, or a tightly-coupled CPU-GPU hardware design is precisely the type of architecture that game consoles require.

In fact, the Xbox 360 is essentially "fusion" at the motherboard level -- The CPU can lock and share portions of the cache directly with the GPU -- there's around 27gb/s bandwitdth between the two, and all 512 MB of main memory is GDDR, controlled by the GPU die. This is, 5 years ago, closer to AMD's promised Fusion processors than what AMD's own Llano CPUs are today.

My basic predictions for the next Playstation and Xbox are something on the order of:
  • 4 CPU cores which will be "fatter" (OoO, better branch prediction, speculative execution, more cache) than the in-order cores in today's consoles, but may forego widening SIMD execution units. Diminishing returns past 4 cores; with GPU compute, devs will prefer fewer "fatter" cores to many "slim" cores.
  • GPU based on AMD 7x00 series (or nVidia Tesla/Kepler), expecting ~800 computing elements.
  • GPU compute resources will offload data-parallel computations -- might be "fusion"-style shared-die, might not -- heat still an issue for 4 fast CPU cores and that many shader elements.
  • At least 4GB GDDR5, unified memory space; 6 or 8 GB possible, if not likely. Greater than 200gb/s bandwidth.
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