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Cell Architecture Explained

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the closer-looks dept.

IBM 570

IdiotOnMyLeft writes "OSNews features an article written by Nicholas Blachford about the new processor developed by IBM and Sony for their Playstation 3 console. The article goes deep inside the Cell architecture and describes why it is a revolutionary step forwards in technology and until now, the most serious threat to x86. '5 dual core Opterons directly connected via HyperTransport should be able to achieve a similar level of performance in stream processing - as a single Cell. The PlayStation 3 is expected to have have 4 Cells.'"

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first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429619)

first... that is all...

Re:first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429665)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429621)

...ah heck...

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429631)

Dammit, you beat me to it.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429732)

Imagine a beowulf-cluster of fat nigger-cunts sitting on you pale white face and making the first male bukakke-actor.

Bastards (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429622)

And I just got done emerging world.

Seeing is believing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429627)

It's not like we haven't heard it before. It usually turns out to be halfish-truish for some restricted subset of operations in a theoretical setting, you know where you discount busses, memory and latencies.

Human skin cells (2, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429628)

Yeah, but can my inkjet print them?

PS3 As A Server? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429629)

I dont know about you but I'm looking forward to putting linux on one of these.

Beowulf cluster...? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429633)

Just imagine...

This is beginning to sound more like (2, Funny)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429635)

a DBZ reference: "Part 4: Cell Vs the PC"

Re:This is beginning to sound more like (4, Funny)

goodbadorugly (837673) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429760)

a DBZ reference: "Part 4: Cell Vs the PC"

The 45 episode saga in which:

Bill Gates becomes a cyborg and summons the forces of evil.

A new Cell is constructed out of unsold Itaniums (Not to be confused with the Cell built by Sony, which is a friendly robot that is found out to be good. ( Until he is found out to be evil when the heroes notice he is under the control of the cyborg Bill Gates who has been behind the charade the entire time) and challenges the world to a rematch of earth shattering proportions

Second string characters have meaningless conversations that take up entire episodes

There is hilarious comic relief from common citizens in various towns as their cities crumble around them

Krillin dies

The dragon is summoned

Goku gets a haircut ...Good lord I should have my anime viewers license revoked for knowing all that crap.

What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (-1, Flamebait)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429638)

Well, with no apps, it will wither and die like everything else IBM tried to make that wasn't connected to Microsoft.

But seriously folks, this isn't about PC architecture. Unless the thing has an x86 emulation layer, it's dead in the water in regards to the PC market. Even Apple, with their much vaunted G-chips have to emulate the x86 hardware so that users can run their Windows programs.

It's a good idea, but it's more likely that Intel will develop something similar for the x86 than IBM will woo the PC market over to the Cell.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429662)

WTF are you talking about?

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429677)

Well if even a Playstation 3 is going to be the equivalent of 20 Opterons, I imagine you could emulate an x86 in software (a la Virtual PC) and it'd still be as fast as, oh, a few Opterons? :)

I don't know if I can take this article seriously. A games console due out within the next year or two is going to be as powerful as 20 of our current top of the range chips? I'm not buying it.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (2, Insightful)

darthdrinker (150713) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429759)

Indeed, sounds to me like Sony's marketing behemoth is getting into top gears promoting cell in any way possible. Although this might not be directly connected to Sony. Wild claims and theorecal performance papers have been wrong in the past when it came to yet another product with mind blowing specs(Crusoe anyone).

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (2, Insightful)

Yoda's Mum (608299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429887)

It only performs like 20 opterons in highly parallelisable tasks. Which excludes almost every task performed on the average PC, with the exception of some gaming graphics tasks (which, incidentally, are performed on specialised GPU's which vastly outperform x86 cores for their tasks anyway). Most of the time, a single cell core will perform pretty much identical to the single Power chip that controls it.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1, Informative)

xylix (447915) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429687)

Unless the thing has an x86 emulation layer, it's dead in the water in regards to the PC market. Even Apple, with their much vaunted G-chips have to emulate the x86 hardware so that users can run their Windows programs.

Huh?? what are you smoking? Since when does Apple emulate x86 harware? Perhaps you are confused by the fact that you can buy Microsoft Office for the macintosh, or run Internet Explorer. Heres a news flash - they aren't emulating the x86, they are native mac code.

Most likely you are confusing one of two different things. Back in the OS X programs can be either Cocoa (the new way) or Carbon (the old way) apps. But that isn't really emulation. What is emulation is that Mac OS X can run OS 9 by emulation - nothing to do with x86 here.

Or you can buy Virtual PC, which is now owned by Microsoft. It will allow you to emulate x86 to run Windows (or Linux) and associated. But note - this isn't Apple, and it isn't something that Mac users "have to do".

Lastly, why on earth would you HAVE to be able to run windows programs in order for a Playstation processor to be successful? Last time I checked PlayStation was still wildly successful? More so than MS Xbox I think.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429698)

The article...describes why it is...the most serious threat to x86.

This is a line (excerpted) from the writeup. These two chips (x86, Cell) aren't even in the same ballpark, let alone market.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (2, Funny)

metricmusic (766303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429717)

listen to the wise old man:

With great power comes loads of software

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1)

T'hain Esh Kelch (756041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429699)

Even Apple, with their much vaunted G-chips have to emulate the x86 hardware so that users can run their Windows programs.

You sure must be smoking crack or something! Apple has been using Power-PC chips the last almost 10 years! The Cell chip is supposedly based on PPC technologies, so Apple is actually one of the companies that might actually benefit greatly from this chip!

Apple making Windows programs only... PffftT!

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (4, Insightful)

popo (107611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429704)

"No Apps"? Try every single video game publisher in the world.

And besides, this isn't about "Office" style apps. Its about games, and more importantly: its about home media centers. I think the Windows MCE is going to have its rear-end handed to it by the PS3.

When you consider that a cell-based PS3 could have a computational power of *several times* a 3 GHz Pentium...

You have to ask, what's more likely: that Intel can get around IBM/Toshiba patents in time for Windows to conquer the living room with a faster box? (That's if they can even build a secure, stable OS with a decent UI). Or that Sony, now armed with the worlds fastest consumer-computing platform, an enormous user base and years of TiVO experience, will own the living room media center market.

If I had to bet on who builds a better media-center PC .. Sony or MSFT... I'd say its absolutely no contest. Sony would crush MSFT. They have better interface design, fewer conflicting platform goals, and they'll put a PS3 in your living room for a fraction of what MSFT could.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429716)

Unless the thing has an x86 emulation layer, it's dead in the water in regards to the PC market.

If this thing can run as fast as claimed, you can have a x86 virtual machine written in Java and it will still outperform all other Wintel machines

Microsoft isn't supporting it? Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429726)

Why the hell do you suppose IBM is helping to Pimp linux?!

Linux is a perfectly capable OS, just as usefull to mom and dad as any other OS (once it's setup and runnning)

I am running Linux on a POWER/PowerPC computer right now.

Cell archatecture is a slight departure based on the Power platform. Designed by IBM, manufactured by Sony.

IBM is the kind of hardware virtualization. You think VMWARE is hot? IBM was doing that in the seventies. Right now you can run hundreds of Linux OSes on a single IBM mainframe. The performance loss is minimal. So by combining cells you have the opturtunity to use hardware abstraction to create a very powerfull computer to run a Linux OS on.

Sony has ported Linux to playstation 2 themselves, so they are used to it and know it.

IBM is releasing a Cell workstation that will run Linux so that Sony Playstation 3 developers have something to work on and run tests on.

Linux has been ported to dozens of different archatectures, the defualt 2.6 kernel has been shown to scale to 64 proccessors. It runs on numerous disparent 64bit platforms (Alpha, Sparc, AMD64, Power, Itanium, etc).

Microsoft is still dicking around with porting Windows to AMD64... a platform mostly compatable with x86. (don't give me crap about NT running on Alpha. It ran on 32bit version, and there was a early beta of W2k that ran 64bit native, but the Win32 API and everything else you use on your computer is and always has been x86-only)

you have TONS of software aviable for Linux. All of it is relatively easily portable.

Linux is very commonly found in high end 3d movie making (Shriek, Lord of the Rings, any newer 3d movie was rendered and partially modeled in Linux using custom and high-end tools.)

It's a proven, seasoned platform. Easily portable, cheap, stable, and it exists.

THAT'S why IBM is pushing Linux so much! They are tired of having their decisions dictated by the limitation of Windows and they are doing something about it.

Cell + Linux, a dream made in heaven. (well geek heaven)

If it is true about Cell being so powerfull at graphical work, then within a few years it would make Linux and Cell the dominate platform for 3d work, and eventually games.

Screw Microsoft, Windows is holding potentially holding everyone back.

Re:Microsoft isn't supporting it? Who Cares? (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429836)

don't give me crap about NT running on Alpha. It ran on 32bit version, and there was a early beta of W2k that ran 64bit native, but the Win32 API and everything else you use on your computer is and always has been x86-only

It's not crap; we produced release versions of our graphics software for Windows on x86, PowerPC, MIPS and Alpha at one point. Shipped some, too. We had machines for all four architectures (still have them, in fact, though the Alpha and PowerPC's are mothballed), development tools, and working Windows OS's on all of them, and they all ran Windows NT, approximately the same version. Perfect, definitely not -- but Windows under x86 isn't perfect either. It worked well, certainly no worse than the x86 versions. We still use one of the MIPS machines as a backup file server. It refuses to die.

Now, I'm no fan of Windows, but if you think MS couldn't port Windows to another architecture beyond x86, you're only fooling yourself. They can any time they want to, they have already, three times that I know of for certain, not counting whatever credit you want to give Windows CE ports, if any, and there you have it. For all I know there may have been ports to 68k archtectures... I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.

You have to consider that MS has more money than anyone, and if they decide to go this route, there is no reason to think they cannot do it. I doubt there is any market force, including Sony and the largest governments in the world, that could put a serious roadblock in front of them in this arena.

Re:Microsoft isn't supporting it? Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429872)

OMFG.

And why the hell would the marketplace give a damn about a MS OS when you can have complete control of your product with open source unix implementations.

Get a clue guy.

Re:Microsoft isn't supporting it? Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429907)

Get over it, Troll. Linux is good, but not for everyone.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429751)

Maybe you (and others) haven't noticed, but the desktop PC is a deer in the headlights. Game machines will take over before you can say 'service contract', with networked apps and entertainment ingrained.

IBM knows this....Sony knows this....Apple knows this. Microsoft knows it as well, thus the lack of steam behind Longhorn.

Intel? ...those boys are cashing in stock options and selling die to Taiwan as we speak. Last one out turn off the lava lamp.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429753)

it wouldn't die, just have a different use.

the article makes so outrageous claims of cell's powers that it makes LITTLE difference if office apps run on it or not. you don't need office apps on your supercomputer.

Is that really that revolutionary? (2, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429773)

The idea of having many processing units in a personal workstation is not new. They thought that Moore's law was going to fail years ago and predicted that by now we would all have massively parallel machines at home on our desks. Well it turned out that Moore's law didn't fail and most importantly that many of the software algorithms are not easily parallelizable. So what if I can have 100 cells at home in my workstation. I could run SETI, weather or some other kind of simulation but I couldn't really play my video games much faster or have a more responsive user interface if I ever install Longhorn. I just can't think of too many programs run on home user's machines that would benefit form a parallel architecture.

Now if the can be made very fast and have only a few (2-8) coupled together...well,as it was said, that is what a nice Opteron machine does anyway nowadays.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (2, Insightful)

a3atom (851645) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429807)

Who cares? Mac OS X and Linux will provide all the applications required. Windows apps will be likely be available under emulation. The Windows market will still dominate but there will be a gradual migration when people realise there are cheaper/better realistic alternatives available at last.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429894)

Also it helps to understand how IBM runs it's mainframes.

You have virtual PCs. These are are programs like VMWARE so that you can run multiple computer OSes.

Well IBM has similar technology, except that while Vmware has been doing it's thing for a while now, IBM has been doing this for almost 30 years. They have gobs of experiance.

So look at the big mainframe. A beast. The CPU isn't all that powerfull but it's main strength is MASSIVE amount of I/O bandwidth. In a PC you have PCI buss that has a maximum bandwidth of 130 or so MBps. A big new IBM manframe has 20GBps worth of bandwidth.

You have the main OS that runs on bare metal. This is called VM. Inside this OS you have things called 'partitions'. These are not like harddrive partitions, but these are proccessing partitions.

In each of these partitions you can have a OS run in them. You can run OS/370 for instance, for legacy batch programs left over from the 80's and early 90's. I am sitting right next to machine that runs a similar setup for JCL programmers.

However you can run Linux on them, too. You can run HUNDREDS of Linux OSes in them, actually.

And the significant thing is that you can do this with almost no overhead. Programs run as fast, or potentially FASTER, then when they are run on "bare metal".

Now look at the Cell archatecture. You have a Power970-style CPU that runs as a controller for all theses special purpose vector proccessors.

You have a VERY high degree of control over system. Unlike x86 there is almost no abstraction...

Take virtual memory (if you think that VM = Swap space, I am talking way over your head) address spaces. You have a abstract memory space, UNTIL it's being used then it's hardcoded and most of the control is done by the host OS...

So this is what I see as the future for the Cell worlstation:

You have the Cell hardware. Ontop of that you have the special IBM OS that controls the hardware. In proccessing partition like you have with Mainframes you have either a Linux or OS X operating system that runs all the user's applications. You can run one OS, or numerious operating systems at the same time.

To the OS X/Linux operating system you will multiple CPUs that it will access. These multiple CPUs will be the 'cells'. To the OS, to the user it will appear to be a run-of-the-mill PowerPC. Just like a IBook or a PowerG5

You will have the ability to render something like similar to the Doom 3 in real time in OpenGL SOFTWARE RENDERING MODE 10x's faster then the fastest PC aviable anytime in the next 5 years.

Hello, folks. This is the speed in which these guys are talking! This isn't oh, Most powerfull PC in the world bullshit talk like from Apple. This shit is the next level. This is star treck shit, this is your-computer-is-now-HAL, type stuff.

Re:What's that? Microsoft isn't supporting it? (1)

japhmi (225606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429857)

I think the guy who wrote this is over-hyping the cell, but I wouldn't be surprised if the cell smoked everything out there for things like video, audio, and 3D graphics.

Sony and Toshiba may end up owning the living room, while Microsoft etc. fight it out for the desktop. Everyone in the PC industry thinks that the living room will make them more money...

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

8086 (705094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429641)

first post!

Re:first post! (0)

SlimFastForYou (578183) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429655)

Judging by your user name, it seems you are using outdated technology. x86 can no longer get the first post!

Re:first post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429658)

Haha you got robbed at 3am in the morning...!

So (1, Interesting)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429642)

How long until the first beowulf cluster [defcon.org] of ps3s?

Also can it run linux?

Re:So (-1, Redundant)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429654)

I forgot

In Soviet Russia, the Cell architecture goes deep inside the article.

Re:So (-1, Offtopic)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429722)

In Soviet Russia, the Cell architecture goes deep inside the article.

In Soviet Russia, 'In Soviet Russia' posts get modded down.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429797)

In Soviet Slashdot, "In Soviet Russia, 'In Soviet Russia' posts get modded down." posts get modded down.

Re:So (1)

lemnik (835774) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429668)

I wouldn't be supprised, since PS2 runs linux. It might take some time for linux to be ported but I'm sure it will be. Currently there is a special OS under development specifically to deal with the Cell CPU.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429772)

Well if you take into account the fact that it is based on power platform.

And that Sony has previous Linux experiance thru porting it to Playstation2.

And that IBM has extensive experiance at hardware virtualization.

And that Linux has been ported to dozens of other platforms and areas, especially the Power platform. (PowerPC is second favorite Linux desktop platform behind x86)

And that IBM is releasing a Cell based workstation that will probably run linux for game developers to develop on.

And IBM has a big boner for Linux, lately. (for instance they are the company that has the largest number of full time employees working specificly on Linux and free software in the world.)

That linux 2.6 has proven scalability for massive numbers of proccessors, and is the most used OS in the world for clustering.

I'd say, yes. It is very likely that Linux will run on it.

if it sounds too good to be true.. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429646)

..it probably is.

was the ps2 the supercomputer it was said to be...?

the author goes on to suggest that cell workstations would smoke x86 counterparts.. but says at the same time that there probably wont be that many of them.

wtf? though in-between the lines you can read at the end that he also thinks a single g5-cpu workstation would 'smoke' x86's...

Re:if it sounds too good to be true.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429660)

Glorifying IBM is just a roundabout way of drooling on about Apple without looking like an Apple fanboi.

Re:if it sounds too good to be true.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429721)

Looking at the ps2 now can it do toy story graphics? yes.

What it lacked when it came out was the development kits to take advantage of it.

Re:if it sounds too good to be true.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429750)

"was the ps2 the supercomputer it was said to be...?"

Yes, it was.

It was just so incredibly difficult to program for, not many people got the full benefit of it :)

Re:if it sounds too good to be true.. (2, Interesting)

kai.chan (795863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429863)

was the ps2 the supercomputer it was said to be...?

I don't remember Sony making any big statements about the Emotion Engine being a supercomputer. What I do remember, is that when they released the clock speed of their processor, people knew the relative power of the PS2. From what I see of the Cell architecture, I can guarantee that the Cell is much more powerful than any AMD and Intel processors.

It seems like you didn't read much into the technical aspect of the Cell architecture presented in the long write-up. From just looking at a simple top-level diagram of the Cell architecture, it is clearly shown that the Cell is much more powerful than any other processors currently available. A Cell contains a Processor Unit with 8 additional Processor Units, each with its own registers. The architecture is also a distributed computing network capable of splitting tasks and computations over a wide variety of home electronics. Each Cell product you buy, you are increasing your processing power of your household. In conclusion, yes, it would smoke a x86 counterpart.

Re:if it sounds too good to be true.. (3, Informative)

CoolGuySteve (264277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429895)

When it was released, the Emotion Engine in the PS2 actually would have been pretty wicked for supercomputing applications if Sony had sold a version with faster interconnects and more RAM. The processors in the PS2 are designed almost entirely to crunch vector operations, which is what most scientific codes rely on. It's really an excellent computer, it just sucks at graphics. The 4MB of uncompressed video memory and lack of hardware texture support are particularly ugly.

I suspect that the main reason there was never an Emotion Engine based cluster product was because the high performance market is tiny, especially compared to the console market, and Sony was already having trouble meeting demand with their exotic chipset when it first came out.

Anyways, I think the guy does go overboard about this new architecture. It probably will be a lot faster than PCs at certain tasks but you can only fit so many transistors in a chip. The cell stuff is cool though, it seems to fit a lot better with what most computers spend their time processing unless you're doing a lot of compiling or database operations.

What always confused me (5, Insightful)

hyu (763773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429657)

Something that has always confused me in gaming consoles is that, despite incredibly powerful hardware (processors, graphical chips, etc.), the system developers seemingly always neglect to put in enough RAM for most games to perform to their potential. Many PC ports often have portions compromised due to the lack of RAM, and system speeds also suffer because of this.

Seeing how RAM is increasingly becoming cheaper, is it possible that new systems like the PlayStation3 might be able to provide RAM that actually allows games to reach their potential along with this new cell hardware?

Re:What always confused me (2, Informative)

FRAGaLOT (239725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429681)

Actually I find the opposite to be true. Take for example an Xbox, which is basically a PC from about seven years ago. (Sub gigahertz P3, 64megs RAM, GeForce3 video)

But it plays all the popular games of today's PC with little to no lag. Where as you need a very high end PC to play the same game!

This is mostly due to the fact that the architecture with the video is more direct, than it is on a PC. There's no AGP bus, or any bottle neck to access video ram. It's more direct which is probably why an Xbox can perform as well as a current PC rig.

But then an Xbox is only running at 800x600. LOL

Re:What always confused me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429746)

But it plays all the popular games of today's PC with little to no lag.

Holy fucking shit! That's the god-damn dumbest thing I've ever heard. Of course it plays the latest games because the latest games ARE BUILT TO BE PLAYED ON IT!!!! You expect XBox developers to write games that won't perform on the system?!?

The cross platform games usually have the graphics cranked up on the pc side to make use of the better performance. Just because a game runs on both doesn't mean that the XBox can perform as well as a PC. The games are either dumbed down for both, or specialized for each platform: some graphic features for the XBox vs memory + hd space + resolution on the pc for example.

Re:What always confused me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429763)

Right. and they dont program pop ups into xbox games eh?

Re:What always confused me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429801)

Less than 800x600, actually.

The XBox cannot render to a true VGA signal.

It also runs a celeron processor though it is a pentium 3-generation celeron.

It's pretty much a halfway between a geforce3 and a geforce4, as well. There are some parts of the GPU that are unique to the xbox.

And really, think about this:

All the developers that made their PC / Xbox games, had to make a special version for xbox, generally. This version included less of the detail that the PC version did.

See: Doom3.

Re:What always confused me (1)

metricmusic (766303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429823)

or they dumbed down the pc version. See: Thief 3 and Deus Ex 2. oooohhhhh hthat makes my blood boil. Deus Ex, Theif 1/2 were some of my most loved pc games. I was so eager to play their next installments. I was so disappointed by what came out.

Re:What always confused me (2, Insightful)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429850)

But then an Xbox is only running at 800x600. LOL

Actually, it is running at 720x576 (a PAL XBOX that is) but I don't see why this is so funny, because that's just the resolution of a PAL TV. Having a higher framebuffer resolution would probably only decrease the output quality when displayed on a normal television.

That said, if you have an HDTV, the XBOX can output at 1920x1080i...

Your sig is mine

Re:What always confused me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429909)

You mention the pal xbox, then you mention how great the xbox outputs to a HDTV.

Well I happen to own a HDTV and I own a pal xbox.

Too bad the pal xbox is incapable of HDTV mode.

LOL again.

Logical Progression? (1)

grimsweep (578372) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429663)

Is the integration of multiple processors into a single 'unit' the answer to the alleged woes of pushing a single processor as fast as it can go? I seem to be seeing more and more consumer-oriented solutions that involve multiple processors. Is this simply due to reduction in costs, or is it destined to become the norm? Some technologies (i.e. Intel's hyper-threading) appear to be a prelude to the latter.

4x4 (1)

courseB (837633) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429861)

future computer ads might sound like '4x4' all-wheel drive ones; 'transfers bits from the cells that grip, to the cells that slip'

remember ps2 technology (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429667)

remember before it was released, how powerful they said it was, so powerful and revolutionary it may not be exportedto some country, as it could be used to guide missile and stuff...etc...

whell, usual PR stuff, sony is very good at it, what amaze me is that it works again and again....people never learn they say...

Re:remember ps2 technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429913)

"could be used to guide missile and stuff...etc..."

A whole lot of people are laughing their asses off at you moron.

Just a stupid fanboy who shot himself in the foot. Congrats!

I'll believe it when I see it (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429672)

I'll believe it when I see it. Sony made outrageous claims with the PS2 in the year or so before launch, I see no reason to believe this will be any different.

On paper an Emotion Engine was supposed to destroy everything, but achieving maximum throughput was difficult and other contraints such as I/O and memory hampered performance. Programmers had to learn a very different way of programming to make full use of the processor and it's two vector units.

A Cell might be a killer chip on paper, but real-world hardware with I/O latency and memory contraints will bring things down to a more reasonable level. Don't forget that multiprocessor programming is *hard*.

Hopefully, developing software for Cell chips will be easier then the early days of the PS2, Sony has already said as much a few months ago.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429849)

WTG SD mods!

A fucking xbox or sega fanboy spews some garbage and you lap it up.

Morons.

"Don't forget that multiprocessor programming is *hard*."

Let me guess, you heard this from that 'console' programming 'god' J Carmack?

Dude, just fucking kill yourself.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429901)

Don't forget that multiprocessor programming is *hard*."

Let me guess, you heard this from that 'console' programming 'god' J Carmack?


But multiprocessor programming is difficult, as anyone who has done it will tell you. Some things are easy to parallelise (ray tracing springs to mind), but most things are not.

True, you can usually get a speed up on 2 CPU's, but unless you are careful then synchronisation & other communication overheads will kill your performance. Adding processors can actually slow you down.

I am not a game programmer, but I do write 3D renderers for a living.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429890)

The PS2 is almost 5 years old (March) and it's still able to compete with the XBox which is what... 2 years old? Grab a clue foo, it blew everything away in 2000 and it's still pretty damn good today.

From TFA... (1)

Trimbo2 (661670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429680)

"Some will no doubt be turned off by the fact that DRM is built into the Cell hardware. Sony is a media company and like the rest of the industry that arm of the company are no doubt pushing for DRM type solutions. It must also be noted that the Cell is destined for HDTV and BluRay / HD-DVD systems, any high definition recorded content is going to be very strictly controlled by DRM so Sony have to add this capability otherwise they would be effectively locking themselves out of a large chunk of their target market. Hardware DRM is no magic bullet however, hardware systems have been broken before - including Set Top Boxes and even IBM's crypto hardware for their mainframes."

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429708)

I think that I stick to PC+Bluyray burner when recording HDTV content...

Can this be taken seriously? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429692)

Quotes from article:

"GPUs will provide the only viable competition to the Cell but even then for a number of reasons I don't think they will be able to catch the Cell."

Did this guy forget that NVidia is designing the GPU for PS3? If Cell is so almighty, why does Sony uses NVidia GPU instead of using more Cells for graphic prosessing?

"There is another reason I don't think Nvidia or ATI will be able to match the Cell's performance anytime soon."

Of course, Cell based products won't be available anytime soon either. According to the current rumors, PS3 will be available in Japan in Spring 2006 and elsewhere in Autumn 2006. One and half years equals a generation in the GPU world...

I love this kind of articles where some future products are compared against current ones and declared as a clear winners...

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429701)

In one paragraph (Games):

"The Cell designers have concentrated on raw computing power and not on graphics"

In the next paragraph (3D Graphics):

"Again this is a field the Cell was largely designed for so expect it to do well here"

So which is it???

The architecture (1)

brunos (629303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429707)

I am not sure whether I get it or not, but it seems to me that what is revolutionary here is not just the speed, but the convenience of the architecture: what if you had just standard slots in your computer in which you could plug extra processors, graphics cards, memory, optical drive hard drive ... anything, using the same exact bus. That would make it so convenient to upgrade and to scale, that it would take over the market. Especially if you could plug in a i386 module too.

Stuttering Idiot? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429711)

IdiotOnMyLeft writes "... The PlayStation 3 is expected to have have 4 Cells.'"

Stuttering Idiot? Or did he mean 8 Cells?

Seems like overhype. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429715)

Reading between the lines suggests to me that the article's author is getting overly excited, and extrapolating a bit too much. The whole thing, as described in the article, seems to be way overpowered and overcomplex for a games console; even if it's technically possible, I strongly suspect that a CPU with ancillary devices as given would be exorbitantly expensive.

I cannot see Sony losing so much money on their next gen console as to make this a possibility; they'd be needing far too many games purchases to make up the losses. My money's on the technology being a scaled down version of the setup described -- and when I say scaled down, I mean scaled way down. I'd estimate it's at least five, possibly ten, years before something like this is anywhere near economical enough for a gaming console.

Having said all that, I'd love to be proven wrong. But until the console comes out, we really have no way of being sure one way or the other, and I'd rather have relatively low expectations and be pleasantly surprised than to raise my expectations to Alpha Centauri (at ~4 light years :) and be majorly disappointed.

One way or the other, time will tell.

not a new architecture, and it's going to be tough (4, Insightful)

idlake (850372) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429718)

This sounds like a little PVM-cluster-on-a-chip. It also sounds like it's a pain to program and will, in the short term, suffer from the same problems that Intel's Itanium suffers from: it tries to push too much work on the compiler or software developer.

In the long term, it's nice that companies are exploring these kinds of architectures. It's not nice that they are trying to monopolize what are pretty straightforward architectural choices with patents. This may be a new CPU, but there is little that is new about having a bunch of fast processors interconnected via a reconfigurable network; these just happen to be on the same chip.

Cool! (4, Funny)

Jacco de Leeuw (4646) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429720)

85 Celcius operation with heat sink

Well, perhaps "cool!" is not the correct response...

Re:Cool! (2)

Trimbo2 (661670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429742)

+1 Funny btw :D

On a serious note, The cell misses the point, we don't NEED any more CPU power, what we need is existing levels of power but without the need for excessive cooling and the fan noise that goes with it (I can hardly type this over the noise of my P4 3.0) !.

Fast, Silent and power efficent is what's needed next.

Is it just me? (3, Interesting)

morriscat69 (807260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429739)

Or does the logical extension of this chart:

http://www.blachford.info/computer/Cells/Cell_Dist ributed.gif [blachford.info]

Make it look a little more like a HAL than a Cell?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

benjaminchoate (593966) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429817)

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the latency of having to send information over a network to your pda/printer/whatever and back make it practically useless for 3D games?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

SB5 (165464) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429888)

The way current PCs are built than yes, but if the path was short along with the transmission path being able to send large amounts of data fast and/or the information sent to those places wasn't time dependent, then it could be possible.

Cells everywhere! (2, Funny)

mrgsd (668128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429771)

The full specifications haven't been given out yet but some details [Specs] are out there:

* 4.6 GHz
* 1.3v
* 85 Celcius operation with heat sink


In toasters.. ovens..

Compiler technology (4, Informative)

sifi (170630) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429777)

One question which was not addressed fully in the article was how do you compile/test programs for this thing.

The potential of parallel architectures has never been in doubt since the early days of the Cray monsters - but how to compile code to use all the features efficiently has.

I don't believe that we see the full advantage of these types of architecture exploited without some similar break-through in software tools.

Mind you the hardware rocks...

Re:Compiler technology (2, Interesting)

mr_jrt (676485) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429846)

Program in a language that is referentially transparent [wikipedia.org] .

...once you can assume that any function is able to be concurrently executed all you have to solve is the communication between processors/storage. The latency of current networking technologies makes this unpractical for general tasks, but this is less of a problem with a low-latency internal bus.

Time to drag those Haskell textbooks out of the closet and dust them off. ;)

Wow (1)

iamnotacrook (816556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429911)

Why do you post tripe like this?

FYI Crays come (came) with huge quantities of libraries, preprocessors, compilers, schedulers, profilers, all designed to help efficiently use the hardware.

Don't post comments they say nothing else than "I dont understand."

GET A FREE MAC MINI (Read for Details) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429799)

Register for a Free Mini Mac

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Register using your email address - this will take only a few minutes.
Answer "NO" to all survey questions so you don't have to deal with junk
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Step 2: Sign up for one of the offers - most of the offers are free trials
you can cancel AFTER you get the credit for it. I think the best right now
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Step 3: Refer ten of your friends to the URL they give you.

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Wow, what crap! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429827)

It makes me sad that shit like this is posted. Feel free to spam the registrant of slashdot.us, st3v@hotmail.com [mailto] .

Re:Wow, what crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429858)

He's only posting here because he dosen't have 10 friends!

Serial and Parallel (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429805)

No matter how well a processor or group of processors can run tasks concurrently it will always come down to the fact that most tasks are serial in nature and will not scale to a concurrent processing architecture. Aside from this developing multi-threaded software is extremely difficult and is rife with problems. Just ask any developer about the hardest problem to find/debug. It is pain incranate and some MT bugs can take 5+ days to find. People design serially, because a lot of tasks are essentially serial in nature, and until this design paradigm gets a major shift and we design parallel only software [LOL] then cell has no future.

Re:Serial and Parallel (1)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429856)

If you had read TFA you would have read that cell performs even better with serial processing than it does with parallel processing.

Re:Serial and Parallel (1)

milohanrahan (787011) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429916)

That's not really the point, though, is it, and certainly not the one he was making.

Right at the end of the article (1)

baker_tony (621742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429815)

"the Cell means a decade from now the technology world is going to look very different."

Wow, and just think how the "technology world" 10 years ago was basically identical. I think they could've used a better phrase here.

next please (4, Insightful)

aixou (756713) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429839)

I'm sorry, but Sony can kiss my ass.

This is from the company that said the Playstation 2 would have Toy Story quality graphics, and be able to render FF8 quality FMVs in real time (thus making FMVs no longer required). It was essentially that bullshit hype that killed the Dreamcast... so yeah, now they're at it again.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I doubt their system will be able to do anywhere near what they say it can in practical application.

Re:next please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429860)

Awww!

The liddle sega fanboy is still crying from his piece of shit system taking a dirtnap!

It's all cuz of Sony hype!

Waaaa!!!!

err (1)

aptenergy (688428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429842)

There's a lot of weird stuff in the conclusions part where he compares the Cell against x86 and PowerPC 970 chips. Look at the Apple blurb for example. He's trying to paint this rosy picture about how Apple can sell a bunch of cloned Macs with Cell processors... that's just foolish. Apple has stuck with the PowerPC architecture for a long, long time now; there's no way they would rewrite OS X (and force everyone to rewrite their apps) just to make a bunch of cheap clones. Not just that, but Apple is now well known for outstanding hardware design. No way they're going to license anything to a cheap, beige-box manufacturer. So from my standpoint, his last page was a big load of BS...

How could they possibly do this cheap? (5, Insightful)

brett42 (79648) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429844)

I'm willing to believe that a 4.6 GHz chip with 8 ALUs and high bandwidth memory would be fast, but even in bulk, there's no way they can afford to put 4 of them in a sub-$500 game console.

I've been reading PR about the Cell for years, and nothing I've ever read has seemed even remotely plausible. Is there any objective information that even comes close to substantiating any of these claims?

Re:How could they possibly do this cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429892)

Just an endless stream of dumshits and fanboys everytime a console story gets posted. Sigh.

Here's a hint Einstein:

Why do you think Cell is able to run a such a high clock speed? It is a step back in complexity compared to the tangled mess of current desktop/workstation chips. And guess what happens to manufacturing costs when you simplify things...

Why don't you stop reading 'PR' and 'unsubstantiated claims' and fucking read the patents and other hard info about Cell that has been out there for months retard.

say what! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429847)

Clippy needs 2 cells to run!

STI (3, Funny)

smallguy78 (775828) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429869)

i didn't understand any of the document, but damn it looks fast

like Transputer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429873)

Does anyone remember the Transputer technology? It was also based on some cell computing approach and was also meant to replace the PC architecture one day.

Listen here (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429875)

WHat most slashdotters fail to realise is that a vector processor would blow chiunks if used for general purpose processing and hence you won'e be seeing a desktop based on them anytime soon.

Sure they may have vecotr processing in the form of SSE etc but vector processing is of no use tfor word processing period!

Long List of failed CPU's (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11429882)

Lets see..

Motorolla 68xxx,
Transmetta,
Alpha,
Sun CPU's
Power PC CPU's (All flavors and even 64-bit versions)
Itanium (which is x86 compatible and made from Intel themselves)
IBM's Cell processor

Is just another CPU added that has failed to take over the Market that AMD and Intel now enjoy. X86 is now dual/quad core with 64-bit instructions and that is the way the market is going.

All of those on that list have failed to take the market and even Itanium which is a 64-bit next generation CPU which is compatible (although slower) x86 and yet it has failed to take the market. If that can't do it, I really am trying to grasp at how Cell is going to change any of this.

All of those processors weres supposed to change the world and yet where are they now? I rest my case.

Imagine a 16X PCI Express Video Card (1)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11429914)

I think that would make the GeForce 6800 GT/Ultra/Lite/Whatever look like a Voodoo 1 and a half. a 3d mark pro 05 score of about 30000...hmmm I guess I should patent that...wait a minute...never mind.
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