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PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the under-the-hood dept.

Operating Systems 457

jones_supa writes "This discovery comes nicely alongside the celebration of FreeBSD's 20th birthday, for all the UNIX nerds. The operating system powering the PlayStation 4 is Orbis OS, which is a Sony spin of FreeBSD 9.0. It's not a huge surprise FreeBSD is being used over Linux, in part due to the more liberal licensing. The PlayStation 4 is x86-64 based now rather than Cell-based, which makes it easier to use FreeBSD. BSDs in general currently lack manufacturer supported full-feature AMD graphics driver, which leads to the conclusion that Sony and AMD have likely co-developed a discrete driver for the PS4. Some pictures of the development kit boot loader (GRUB) have been published too."

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457 comments

License war commencing... (0, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44089013)

In 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Re:License war commencing... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089029)

BSD license, I'm not sure you understand it.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44089069)

BSD vs GPL. Maybe you've heard there is some contention there?

Re:License war commencing... (5, Funny)

Yoda222 (943886) | about 10 months ago | (#44089105)

This has been disputed over and over again. I think that after 42 years of trolling, we now all agree on which one is the best and why, no ?

Re:License war commencing... (5, Informative)

phorm (591458) | about 10 months ago | (#44089465)

Indeed. The best is whatever works for you.
BSD: Good if you want high availability/adoption and don't care if derived projects are OSS.
Linux: Good if you want high availability but no closed-source spinoffs.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089199)

BSD license, I'm not sure you understand it.

- was the last thing said to SCO dev's.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089207)

He's talking about a Slashdot flame war, not a legal battle.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089047)

You must have absolutely no idea what the BSD license is.

Re:License war commencing... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089093)

The license war he's talking about would proceed approximately as follows:

GPL: had BSD been licensed under the GPL (I know, word salad), then Sony would have been forced to release the modifications to the kernel, and we would be able to better mod the PS4/overall cost to society would be lower since all the improvements would be available to everyone

BSD: had BSD been licensed under the GPL, Sony would not have used the kernel, they would never upstream any changes, and the overall cost to society would be greater since they would have been forced to develop their own, in-house kernel.

I'm trying to be neutral here, but I'm probably just starting the flamewar. You probably can tell what my bias is, but whatever.

Except... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089221)

Sony had formerly for 2 generations used linux-style elf/toolchain as it's preferred format, with native and hypervisor (respectively) support for the linux kernel on PS2/3 hardware.

With this generation Sony moves to FreeBSD, but given how they released source for the previous 2 systems, how much worse is it now that they release no source at all (Hint: PS2 toolchain is basically dead at this point, PS3 I haven't heard anything about in a while.) Where's the homebrew? Where's the outrage?

Does anybody even actually care?

Re:Except... (3, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 10 months ago | (#44089245)

Sony used NetBSD for PSP according to slashdot. True Sony might have ported some Linux tools over to BSD, but BSD is something they are familiar with. I doubt the OS was linux based but I know you could run it on the PS2 from what I remember reading.

Apple also uses FreeBSD for the same licensing reasons not to mention it does not radically change and is designed rather than grown.

Re:Except... (4, Informative)

smash (1351) | about 10 months ago | (#44089495)

Also, OS X is based on NextStep which was BSD at its core from way before Linux even existed.

Re:License war commencing... (0, Flamebait)

bmo (77928) | about 10 months ago | (#44089241)

Your second case assumes altruism on the part of Sony.

This is Sony we're talking about. The same company that removed the *option* to run a different OS from the PS3. The same company that put a rootkit on their CDs.

You got modded informative. There should be a "delusional" mod.

--
BMO

Re:License war commencing... (0)

mjwx (966435) | about 10 months ago | (#44089301)

The license war he's talking about would proceed approximately as follows:

GPL: had BSD been licensed under the GPL (I know, word salad), then Sony would have been forced to release the modifications to the kernel, and we would be able to better mod the PS4/overall cost to society would be lower since all the improvements would be available to everyone

BSD: had BSD been licensed under the GPL, Sony would not have used the kernel, they would never upstream any changes, and the overall cost to society would be greater since they would have been forced to develop their own, in-house kernel.

I'm trying to be neutral here, but I'm probably just starting the flamewar. You probably can tell what my bias is, but whatever.

You must not be new here.

That was the oldenslashdot of yore. Such debates do not occur any more.

Now it's a bunch of rabid Apple/Sony/Microsoft fanboys who will mod down anyone who says anything remotely critical of Apple/Sony/Microsoft.

There aren't even many Linux Zealots left. Welcome to AppleDot, leave you sanity at the door.

Re:License war commencing... (5, Funny)

Nutria (679911) | about 10 months ago | (#44089527)

There aren't even many Linux Zealots left.

No need to gloat when you've conquered the world.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

mysidia (191772) | about 10 months ago | (#44089407)

GPL: Had BSD been licensed under the GPL, Sony would have paid Microsoft, HP, or Google for an OS license. The cost of the PS4 would be higher. Fewer hours of kids' time would be wasted playing games, instead of doing productive activities: that generate economic or social value (such as writing open source software): the overall cost to society would be negative (that is to say society would actually benefit as compared to the other option).

With fewer gamers in the world (due to the PS4 carrying a higher price tag), and more programmers -- the greater economic growth would reduce unemployment, create jobs: result in more software developers getting paid as a result of the PS4 development, and make world leaders look better; even if just a fractions of a percent, which are all still some great benefits to society ---- much better than an alternative, of just reusing an open source kernel in the project.

Re:License war commencing... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 10 months ago | (#44089429)

Since the original BSD license is a year (1988) older than the GPL v1, it's not possible for BSD to have been released under the GPL.

Re:License war commencing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089097)

You must have absolutely no idea what a "license war" on Slashdot is.

Sony Hackstation (3, Interesting)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 10 months ago | (#44089033)

So how trivial will it be to slurp the OS out onto a AMD card enabled PC and have our own "HackStation4"?
Or... how would one modify FreeBSD to run PS4 software?

I'm sure there'll be encryption up the wazoo anyway... and potentially software could specifically check that the graphics chip is not some off-the-shelf AMD card... ...but it begs the question.

Re:Sony Hackstation (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 10 months ago | (#44089067)

You would have to write a wrapper around the FreeBSD driver apis for Linux (this may already exist).

But the driver is probably specific to the card in the PS4, not a general purpose driver.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | about 10 months ago | (#44089159)

You would have to write a wrapper around the FreeBSD driver apis for Linux (this may already exist).

Why? You could just run FreeBSD on that PC instead of Linux.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 10 months ago | (#44089271)

It would be a shim between the FreeBSD you would run on the system and the already-existing Linux driver you want to use to control the card.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | about 10 months ago | (#44089329)

So how trivial will it be to slurp the OS out onto a AMD card enabled PC and have our own "HackStation4"?

I'm assuming they meant using an AMD based PC because the drivers already in the PS4 OS might be compatible (which is not particularly likely). Alternatively if you want NVIDIA, they already have an official driver for FreeBSD that you could try hacking into Orbis. Neither case requires a custom Linux-FreeBSD shim.

Re:Sony Hackstation (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#44089101)

But why? When the PS3's came out with its cell processor, it was very unique and unlike any other processor available. The AMD processor in the Playstation 3 (and XBox One) is just a garden-variety commodity part.

Re:Sony Hackstation (2)

idunham (2852899) | about 10 months ago | (#44089139)

But why? When the PS3's came out with its cell processor, it was very unique and unlike any other processor available. The AMD processor in the Playstation 3 (and XBox One) is just a garden-variety commodity part.

You just answered yourself. If you already have an AMD system, why not run Orbis on it, getting access to the games written for the PS4? Some might prefer to not get a second computer potentially with less but faster RAM.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | about 10 months ago | (#44089167)

My guess is they're wondering how easy it would be to pirate PS4 games on PC hardware.

Re:Sony Hackstation (3, Insightful)

Master Moose (1243274) | about 10 months ago | (#44089243)

Not Worried about the piracy as I would buy games. . But if I could build a compatible P.C unencumbered by Sonys Restrictions and add other BSD/Linux software to the box, I would have a very happy lounge.

Re:Sony Hackstation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089175)

It's got 8 cores!!!

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 10 months ago | (#44089489)

and? not sure what your point is. So it is equal to current AMD CPU's. why not just skip the locked down hardware specs and build your own with an 8 core AMD desktop CPU, infinitely more flexible and still cheap as.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about 10 months ago | (#44089389)

He is talking about the opposite process, akin of the Hackintosh project, i.e., running the PS4 OS and games/apps on your standard PC.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 10 months ago | (#44089127)

Hmm, wondering that myself. Some sort of wrapper to fool the OS that it IS a certain type of gfx card. Dunno how many things it checks to prove it's running on real PS4 hardware, but certainly interesting. Wonder how long till it's hacked.

Re:Sony Hackstation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089203)

The first Xbox ran on an Intel Celeron. No one has the Xbox OS running on a PC or vice-versa. The CPU is just a little part of the whole package that is a computer. Hell, the 360, Wii and Gamecube are all on fairly typical Power processors; at least not far from COTS chips.

Mac computers, on the other hand, are just like Windows computers running standard UEFI instead of BIOS.

Re:Sony Hackstation (3, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | about 10 months ago | (#44089259)

So how trivial will it be to slurp the OS out onto a AMD card enabled PC and have our own "HackStation4"? Or... how would one modify FreeBSD to run PS4 software?

I'm sure there'll be encryption up the wazoo anyway... and potentially software could specifically check that the graphics chip is not some off-the-shelf AMD card... ...but it begs the question.

I don't think you know what that phrase means. So here you go: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/begging-the-question [yourlogicalfallacyis.com]

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

batkiwi (137781) | about 10 months ago | (#44089375)

If you do that you can run the dash. Yay.

That doesn't make you magically able to run games.

Re:Sony Hackstation (3)

mysidia (191772) | about 10 months ago | (#44089421)

So how trivial will it be to slurp the OS out onto a AMD card enabled PC and have our own "HackStation4"? Or... how would one modify FreeBSD to run PS4 software?

Like a Hackintosh?

Apple will solve it by moving to ARM.

Sony can head off the problem by leveraging the TPM chip.

If your hardware doesn't have a machine key with Sony's digital signature on it, then OS doesn't boot.

Furthermore... no doubt UEFI secure boot will be leveraged, to prevent booting user supplied code on a PS4.

I anticipate the trusted computing hardware to be used extensively.

Re:Sony Hackstation (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 10 months ago | (#44089485)

Well that would prevent users from running "Other OS" on the PS4... but to lift the OS off the PS4 and import it elsewhere?

I suppose you could simply encrypt the entire OS on the drive, and have that encryption key signed in Secure Boot inaccessible to the casual user.
Sony would then want a cert revocation and update mechanism though, to prevent what happened to the PS3....

Re:Sony Hackstation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089477)

I'm sure there'll be encryption up the wazoo anyway... and potentially software could specifically check that the graphics chip is not some off-the-shelf AMD card... ...but it begs the question.

How does it beg the question? Oh, wait... You misused a phrase in an attempt to sound erudite. Carry on...

War of the Operating Systems (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089037)

PS4 is on FreeBSD, X1 is on a Windows-kernel abomination, and the Steam box is going to be Linux. Interesting. Any chance the WiiU has secret Mac lineage to complete this?

Re:War of the Operating Systems (4, Informative)

idunham (2852899) | about 10 months ago | (#44089161)

PS4 is on FreeBSD, X1 is on a Windows-kernel abomination, and the Steam box is going to be Linux. Interesting. Any chance the WiiU has secret Mac lineage to complete this?

It uses IOS.

Not Apple's iOS, but the "Internal Operating System"-note that capital I.

Re:War of the Operating Systems (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 10 months ago | (#44089441)

X1 is on a Windows-kernel abomination

I'm sure it's just to increase Windows sales numbers on paper.

A great win for FreeBSD (4, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44089063)

Its good to see a BSD release picking up another major instance of commercial use. One of the obstacles the BSDs have faced is mindshare. Linux has had such an overpowering presence in the free/open world that it often overshadows the BSDs. That plays out in the commercial software that is available. If you look at high end vendor software, such as Oracle or other databases, or CAD tools, it is pretty rare to see much released for anything except Red Hat, or maybe Suse Linux. But getting the BSDs out where users are aware of it will definitely help.

This will also probably also be good for FreeBSD in terms of its codebase as well. I expect Sony will probably be feeding back some patches.

Re: A great win for FreeBSD (0, Troll)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 10 months ago | (#44089091)

You expect, but it's not at all required. If you want code back, use a different license.

Re: A great win for FreeBSD (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44089239)

Voluntary is fine, no need to change licenses.

Even if they don't send in any patches, FreeBSD probably comes out ahead just from the exposure.

Re: A great win for FreeBSD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089343)

FreeBSD has been used in some great devices already and has benefited almost not from this kind of exposure.

Re: A great win for FreeBSD (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 10 months ago | (#44089533)

Yes, a slight churn in FreeBSD developers at sony will produce more FreeBSD developers with lots of experience.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 10 months ago | (#44089099)

This will also probably also be good for FreeBSD in terms of its codebase as well. I expect Sony will probably be feeding back some patches.

This man is in denial.

--
BMO

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 10 months ago | (#44089253)

This man is in denial.

Well, to be fair, maybe they'll kick up the source code to github for a rootkit?

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089341)

you gpl people are so odd....most of the work that people do for a product is totally worthless outside that
context

and you're rabid that that you need to see them all

just relax and do good work. invest your energies in open platforms.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089455)

That really doesn't have anything to do with GPL/BSD licensing. It is more about the company in question, they have a really poor reputation when it comes to sharing anything, I imagine the FreeBSD choice was more a safety thing from their perspective, but I doubt they have any intention whatsoever of contributing back. There is nothing wrong with that either.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089471)

exactly. sony is shite. they make some strange platform based on bsd and you ignore them.

no reason for anyone to be upset about it

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089557)

No, it's not. Sony has actually contributed quite a bit back to Linux, in particular the Linux kernel source code.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (5, Insightful)

willy_me (212994) | about 10 months ago | (#44089459)

This will also probably also be good for FreeBSD in terms of its codebase as well. I expect Sony will probably be feeding back some patches.

This man is in denial.

-- BMO

Not really. It is much less expensive to allow the patches to be integrated into the parent project then it is to patch the project after every update. In addition, others will be able to test/verify that changes don't break the patches if they are given access to them. So it makes sense to feed back as many patches as they can as it greatly reduces the effort required to maintain their port.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (2)

phorm (591458) | about 10 months ago | (#44089473)

I don't see it likely that Sony will, but the video card vendor etc might but putting a bit more work into the BSD drivers, which is to everyone's benefit.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (5, Interesting)

imp (7585) | about 10 months ago | (#44089549)

Apple has contributed lots of patches back to BSD. Juniper has contributed much to BSD, etc.

In general, people that use BSD contribute patches back because it is in their best financial interest to do so. Not because the license says they must, but because they want to. This generally leads to better quality patches too, in my experience.

But don't expect the video driver: that's likely covered by NDA with AMD...

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | about 10 months ago | (#44089123)

I don't really see how this is good for the BSD community, or what they benefit from it, since Sony is probably not going to give back any of the new stuff they've written, and it's not like you can just install whatever you want in a PS4.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089141)

Now the same intensity of rabid fanboys will be using FreeBSD. Too bad that unlike linux, they will not know it.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

deek (22697) | about 10 months ago | (#44089233)

It's publicity. Awareness of FreeBSD will increase, and that could translate into more users. Likely more users of the kind that are curious, inquisitive, and technically able.

Like you, I very much doubt that Sony will feed back any patches. Corporate structure means that the process of sharing code will include a series of approvals and legal checks, making the whole process painful for the programmer. No tech guy worth their salt wants to put themselves through that wringer, unless they're really really passionate about getting it through.

The FreeBSD kernel is top notch, so Sony will certainly benefit from such a solid system. PS4 users will benefit from decent scheduling and multitasking. The FreeBSD community should hopefully benefit from the increased exposure. It's really not a bad deal overall. Just a shame that the FreeBSD system won't get better graphic drivers out of it, but hey, anything potentially released would undoubtedly be unsupported and proprietary, and thus a pain in the arse for FreeBSD maintainers.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 10 months ago | (#44089299)

It's publicity. Awareness of FreeBSD will increase, and that could translate into more users.

In what universe will this happen?

In this universe, very few users will ever know that it runs FreeBSD, and even fewer will care. Much like most people don't know that the PSP runs FreeBSD (did you?), and even fewer care.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089369)

Exacly. The idea that gamers (which are heavy Windows users) will decide to give FreeBSD a try because their favorite game console runs it is just absurd.


FreeBSD has already been used in a number of decent devices and its adoption has not increased a bit because of this kind of exposure.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about 10 months ago | (#44089399)

To be fair, a lot of console gamers are console gamers, not computer gamers so outside of a potential leaning towards MS if they're Xbox fanboys there's not going to be much Windows love there.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about 10 months ago | (#44089275)

[...]since Sony is probably not going to give back any of the new stuff they've written[...]

I expect that they will donate back all of their tactical code, and enough of the pieces of their strategic code to make the tactical code desirable to integrate from the FreeBSD community. I expect they will NOT donate back ALL of their strategic code.

The business case for them doing this is that they will be able to offload the maintenance burden for the tactical code, which does not benefit them commercially, to the FreeBSD community, while keeping their proprietary intellectual property to themselves.

Apple did the same thing when doing the UNIX conformance; my team donated back code and test sets to more than 150 Open Source projects to enable them to be standards conformant, and, in the case of the test sets, to continue to be standards conformant going forward.

This would get a lot more press, if Apple employees were ever allowed to publish anything without VP approval. If Sony is smart, they will absolutely crow about their contributions back to the community, since the secrecy buys them nothing, and being candid aboit it gets them nothing but good press. It's too bad Apple was never candid about its contributions.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 10 months ago | (#44089305)

It is good because it shows that BSD is not just viable but desirable for commercial use. Also, what do you base your assertion that Sony will not give back any modifications they have made? I'm not suggesting they will release the entire modified OS but it would not be too much of a reach to see them post a few bug patches, othewise they will need to keep making the same corrections after every release.

Re:A great win for FreeBSD (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 10 months ago | (#44089325)

Also, what do you base your assertion that Sony will not give back any modifications they have made?

What's the benefit to Sony's shareholders in doing so that outweighs the costs and risks?

Nice! (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 10 months ago | (#44089077)

The fact that game developers will be able to recruit people who have several years of experience with the base of the underlying OS should result in better code than the usual half-assed guesswork near the beginning of a console's lifetime.

Re:Nice! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44089323)

The fact that game developers will be able to recruit people who have several years of experience with the base of the underlying OS should result in better code than the usual half-assed guesswork near the beginning of a console's lifetime.

I'd imagine that the "It's just an x86 with a relatively recent Radeon, you may have heard of those" factor will have a major role there... This will be the first (non portable, the portables have been less weird) Sony console in generations that isn't a serious oddball in terms of silicon.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089503)

I would imagine most game devs have little to no experience working with OpenBSD as a platform at all. General developer community does not equal game dev community.

Will Sony Release Any Source Code? (1)

edelbrp (62429) | about 10 months ago | (#44089081)

Is there *any* hope that Sony will push patches upstream? I would imagine not, but it would certainly be a nice gesture and could result in more PS4 sales if they did.

Re:Will Sony Release Any Source Code? (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 10 months ago | (#44089213)

Sony might not, but if AMD has done more driver development for *nix as a result of the PS4 design, then that will probably help improve the Linux and FreeBSD drivers as well.

Re:Will Sony Release Any Source Code? (3, Insightful)

larkost (79011) | about 10 months ago | (#44089309)

Whether or not Sony gives back patches really won't have any significant impact on their sales. The vast majorty of people who would buy a PS4 will never hear about it, and would not care if they would.

I expect that they will not upstream the things people would probably care about most (graphics drivers), becuase they will be propritary and co-developed with vendors. However my guess is that they will contribute a steady stream of small incremental improvements that no one will ever hear about. These are the normal by-product of smart people working on a system.

The reason they will contribte these bits back is pure self-interest: the next time they upgrade they hopefully don't have to re-apply the patch they created. They are not giving the crown jewels away, the things that make Sony its money, but rather the things that Sony as a business does not care about. This is how FreeBSD works. It is not as "pure" as the ideas behind the GPL, but it does work a lot better for the corprorate/capitalistic point of view. And that is how we structure our society, for better or worse.

Coolest ... Playstation ... EVER (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089083)

If this is true, I'm pre-ordering the PS4.

At last... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089089)

This godly OS is recognized for what it's worth.

Jobs Told IBM and Sony Where to Stick Cell (4, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 10 months ago | (#44089143)

The PlayStation 4 is x86-64 based now rather than Cell-based, which makes it easier to use FreeBSD

Funny how Sony tried to woo Apple over to the Cell architecture, even offering Apple Sony authored PS3 games for the Mac.

As it happens, Intel's was not the only alternative chip design that Apple had explored for the Mac. An executive close to Sony said that last year Mr. Jobs met in California with both Nobuyuki Idei, then the chairman and chief executive of the Japanese consumer electronics firm, and with Kenichi Kutaragi, the creator of the Sony PlayStation.

Mr. Kutaragi tried to interest Mr. Jobs in adopting the Cell chip, which is being developed by I.B.M. for use in the coming PlayStation 3, in exchange for access to certain Sony technologies. Mr. Jobs rejected the idea, telling Mr. Kutaragi that he was disappointed with the Cell design, which he believes will be even less effective than the PowerPC.

source: What's Really Behind the Apple-Intel Alliance / NYTimes / 2005 [nytimes.com]

Other sources I am too lazy to dig up cited Jobs as stating that his main mover for this decision was that he in no way wanted any Apple product associated with a gaming console. Call it Platformism, but if that citation is correct, it was very solid reasoning from Jobs. Every PC pundit on the planet would have had a field day with that one. Never mind that the US DoD (and likely the NSA) has found the Cell architecture in PS3s most useful for clustering, since the Cell architecture is so very cheap and so very good at that. citation [cnn.com]

Re:Jobs Told IBM and Sony Where to Stick Cell (5, Interesting)

kc8apf (89233) | about 10 months ago | (#44089297)

Having been part of the team that evaluated practically every processor being considered for Apple products from 2003-2009, Cell wasn't used because it sucks as a general purpose processor. The SPUs are interesting but you need to completely rewrite algorithms to use them effectively. While porting to Intel wasn't exactly easy (mostly due to the endian switch), it didn't involve rewriting every compute-heavy algorithm from scratch. Intel also had a roadmap while Cell was a point design.

Re:Jobs Told IBM and Sony Where to Stick Cell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089393)

SPE code is a PITA to write. The PPE was virtually a normal PPC core, but you're not getting any of the Cell benefit without SPE programming (and in console dev, since the PS3's GPU is much weaker than the 360's, and the one PPE core isn't as good as the 360's three PowerPC cores, you had to do SPE programming).

I played around with Cell a little bit at University (small Cell BE cluster), and looked at some code at a game dev job after. Simply terrifying, and certainly unlike anything else I've played with. The communication is even much different from GPGPU and SIMD extensions like SSE or NEON.

Re:Jobs Told IBM and Sony Where to Stick Cell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089327)

sony marked down the price as a loss-leader, assisted by their using factory seconds (the ps3 only used 7 of 8 cores for this reason) of the cell processor when available.

the only alternative if you wanted the architecture was cell coprocessor cards. we priced them, but they were well over a $thousand each. performance was slightly better, and i think they had more SPEs, but if you could parallelize your algorithm across units, the ps3 was an amazing value (largely for artificial reasons, but my sympathy for sony is limited).

AMD graphics driver (0)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 10 months ago | (#44089177)

Anyone else worried about AMD developing the drivers? AMD has never had good drivers. Most of them have been terrible. It has been the only reason I've been using NVIDIA cards for the past 10 years.

Re:AMD graphics driver (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 10 months ago | (#44089201)

You're a bit out of date. The video drivers were pretty crappy when AMD inherited them from ATi, but they've gotten steadily better since then. Neither AMD nor NVIDIA has perfect drivers, but they are now roughly on par with each other.

The exception is CrossFire, which is still inferior in several ways to SLI. But both CrossFire and SLI are dumb hacks (and aren't being used on any consoles), so it doesn't really matter.

Re:AMD graphics driver (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 10 months ago | (#44089263)

Funny on my Asus board nothing above 12.10 works. I read and found out other Asus boards too can't run a more recent driver. Bumber as I was planning to upgrade to a ATI 7790 later this summer and 13.1 is the recommended driver.

It's an AMD chipset/cpu combo too!! ... but intel ones work fine?

Re:AMD graphics driver (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 10 months ago | (#44089317)

so many people bash ati but i ran a gaming rig for 5 trouble free years though eventually when i was convinced it was viraly infected (despite concrete proof of it being fine) so i sold it. problem fixed. i had previously dealt with 2-3 ati aiw cards that the systems installed in them became 'obsolete' never any crash issues. i bought one asus nvidia card and the heatsink wasn't even touching the gpu bolted on the card. cause everyone was saying 'go nvidia' the 5 year fine system was the one that got the ati gpu because asus doesn't warrenty their products. sick that people think it is such a great company when you can't even rma devices. though i did forgive nvidia, but never asus they burned me twice on hardware and there will never be a third time.

Microsoft should go with Xenix (4, Funny)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 10 months ago | (#44089189)

After the IBM vs SCO fiasco, maybe Xenix can be put to good use.

Re:Microsoft should go with Xenix (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 10 months ago | (#44089281)

Xenix is SCO Openserver. You really want that shit? 12 years ago slashdotters whined that it is the only unix OS that made admins want to switch to Windows. It is a 20 year time warp with it. The Unix haters manual has Xenix xerpets to make thier case why Unix is bad.

I prefer the Windows 8 kernel to that turd thank you very much.

Re:Microsoft should go with Xenix (2)

Zynder (2773551) | about 10 months ago | (#44089457)

What WON'T Bill Gates say to try and prop up Win 8 sales??????

Re:Microsoft should go with Xenix (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 10 months ago | (#44089569)

Windows 8 can cure cancer and world hunger. Please buy it! We donate money to help save poor old kittens.

You don't hate kittens do you?

Pipe dream. (4, Insightful)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 10 months ago | (#44089205)

Imagine being able to start up your PS4 to GRUB? Even just giving us the graphics driver this time around Sony would be nice, since you're playing the good guy this gen.

Re:Pipe dream. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089277)

I got a PS3 with the expectation* of being able to run Linux and games. I will not be buying a PS4. No thanks, Sony.

* as it was advertised.

Re:Pipe dream. (1)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 10 months ago | (#44089303)

Really? I never knew it was advertised but I remember trying it out and being instantly bitterly disappointed at how slow it ran. Ridiculous considering the hardware. Then finding out how much was locked away it suddenly made sense. Any source?

Re:Pipe dream. (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 10 months ago | (#44089351)

It was advertised that you could use other OS on the Sony PS3. There were reports of 3-letter agencies building clusters out of them because of their Cell processors (this was at a time when GPGPU computer was just starting to become big)

Re:Pipe dream. (1)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 10 months ago | (#44089541)

No, I know that. It was more to do with the AC comments about Linux gaming through OtherOS being advertised. Which was virtually impossible due to no access to the graphics card and cores being locked down on the CPU.

Gee, now Sony can use... (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 10 months ago | (#44089255)

...(an)Other OS to screw users out of being able to use OtherOS!

Re:Gee, now Sony can use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089443)

...(an)Other OS to screw users out of being able to use OtherOS!

That horse died a long time ago, all youre doing now is beating a hole in the ground where the horse to be, died, rotted and has long since disappeared.

Jesus Christ, you guys are as bad as the apple guys who still scream "MACs don't get viruses!" because you have nothing current, relevant or even half way intelligent to say. You just sit wringing your hands looking and searching for some way to be able to spew out some sad and pathetic old ass phrase.

Get over it already and try to sound like a rational and mature adult for once.

PS3 and PS2 also FreeBSD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44089321)

This isn't really news. The PS3 also ran FreeBSD, as did the PS2. They seem to have something that works for them and have kept with it. There's a great big FreeBSD Foundation copyright notice in my PS3 manual, and the filesystems for both the PS2 and PS3 are FreeBSD-flavored UFS.

The PlayStation 3 supposedly used FreeBSD too (4, Interesting)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 10 months ago | (#44089371)

I was under the impression that the PlayStation 3's OS was already based on FreeBSD, which means that this is not entirely unexpected news. According to the PS3 System Software page [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia:

The native operating system of the PlayStation 3 is CellOS, which is believed to be a branch from the FreeBSD project. The 3D computer graphics API software used in the PlayStation 3 is LibGCM and PSGL, based on OpenGL ES and Nvidia's Cg. The PlayStation 3 uses the XrossMediaBar (XMB) as its graphical user interface.

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