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Next-Gen Console CPUs Not Up to Hype

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the psss-they're-game-consoles-pass-it-on dept.

Hardware 783

rAiNsT0rm writes "Anandtech follows up their initial in-depth coverage of the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPU with the real truth about the next-gen consoles' Poor CPU Performance. From the article: "Speaking under conditions of anonymity with real world game developers who have had first hand experience writing code for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware (and dev kits where applicable), we asked them for nothing more than their brutal honesty. What did they think of these new consoles? Are they really outfitted with the PC-eclipsing performance we've been lead to believe they have? The answer is actually quite frequently found in history; as with anything, you get what you pay for."" Update: 06/30 21:11 GMT by Z : The original article disappeared from Anandtech, so I've changed the link to point to the story as hosted by Google Groups.

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Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (0, Redundant)

nokilli (759129) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945110)

From TFA:

...real-world performance of the Xenon CPU is about twice that of the 733MHz processor in the first Xbox
Oh man, why not just kick them in the balls too while you're at it!

Can that really be true?

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (2, Informative)

Glonk (103787) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945165)

Oh man, why not just kick them in the balls too while you're at it!

Can that really be true?

He's likely referring to single-threaded performance, likely from PC developers who ported PC applications to the consoles in a month or two.

In-order cores like Xenon and Cell require a lot more careful optimizations, they don't have the Out Of Order Execution logic on the CPU to dynamically re-order the instructions more optimally.

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (5, Insightful)

dancpsu (822623) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945213)

I think the real problem is each time you push for more improvements, the more complex the architecture gets. The article said that most developers would be using only one of the PS3's processors for most operations. Well, when you're used to designing for one processor, you tend to continue designing for one processor.

Each new feature added to the console requires learning that developers for past consoles, who have been used to the last console, will do slowly, and maybe reluctantly.

What developers really want is the *exact same* architecture, but much faster, more memory, etc. No more processors, no more complex ways of addressing different caches. Just make the thing the same, only faster, and developers would love it. Initially...

However, a year from now, the developers will learn the basics of the new consoles, and want something more. Then they will get into all those features that the new architecture gives them, and be excited to be the first to make a game that has realistic crumbling concrete when the tank slams into a wall, or whatever else they decide to do.

But asking a developer now about how their next gen console devkit performs is premature.

No more free lunches; should we get used to it? (4, Informative)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945289)

The article said that most developers would be using only one of the PS3's processors for most operations. Well, when you're used to designing for one processor, you tend to continue designing for one processor.

Not really surprising; at any rate, it may be essential to get used to this type of architecture/programming, as The Free Lunch Is Over [www.gotw.ca], if this article is to be believed. (This may have featured in /.; I forget where I first saw it).

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (2, Insightful)

rpozz (249652) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945220)

Who's suprised? It's quite obvious that the main advantage for having 3 x 3GHz in the XBox 360 was so that people would think 'OMG it runs at 9GHz!!'. Multi-threading isn't that much of an advantage in games as we've seen from the Athlon X2 and Pentium D benchmarks, and will be even less so when running on a console which is doing fuck-all else. While some games could be written specifically for the Xenon CPU, many would be ported from other platforms, and not be designed to be optimized for multi-core.

Come on, it was MS and Sony in a bullshit competition. It was obvious they were going to be misleading.

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945343)

The real benefit will be when all the AI is one processor, all the physics are on another, and the rest is on the third. Just because individual components of the game engine aren't easily threadable doesn't mean the entire game isn't. As far as the lackluster performance reports I'm not surprised either...remember all they hype Sony put on the Emotion Engine? Still...if you compare a $300 Xbox360 or PS3 with a $300 PC there should be quite a nice gain in performance ;)

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945276)

Most games are GPU bound. Makes sense to me.

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (3, Funny)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945392)

That's what really scares me about the current game industry. Everyone's so focused on their pretty graphics that the rest of the games components, like physics, AI, or even gameplay are taking a backseat. They might as well put "produced by Jerry Bruckheimer" on half the shit games that come out..

*P.S. Sorry to any Bruckheimer fans out there...but I couldn't think of a better all flash, no substance Hollywood guy at the moment :P

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (5, Insightful)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945288)

According to the article, both console's CPUs will be, for real-world applications (and not silly benchmarks) about that speed. Twice as fast as the Xbox.

Interestingly though, the article also says that the two GPUs (which are again nearly the same in performance) will be much better than their predeccesors. The other components will be fairly improved as well, so overall the consoles will be over 2x as fast as Xbox 1. Not as powerful as the manufacturers claim, of course, but still a good improvement over the last generation of consoles.

On the other hand... Now Nintendo's claims that its Revolution will be "only" two or three times more powerful than the Gamecube don't seem so bad. I always root for the underdog, and I like their lack of crazy hype so far.

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (3, Interesting)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945351)

After months and months of hype, mystical numbers thrown around in the air, arguments about hypothetical maximums, some more hype, fancy product launches, more hype, constant bickering by fan boys on message forums, evaluations of the consoles, and (did I mention hype?) everything else, the truth finally comes out.

Congratulations, we've all fallen victem to the same cruel joke every time some company decides to release a new console, product, etc.

And in the end, none of it matters if the games aren't very good anyhow. Now that we've gotten over the dick measuring contest to see who can spit out the most flops, maybe we can all get back to enjoying the games on our current generation systems, and hoping that we'll see even better games in the future.

I don't mean to sound like a troll, flamer, asshat, or other nasty forum lurker, but does the computational power of a console make or break it? I've got a cell phone that probably has more computational power than an SNES, but Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a damned good game. Let's step away from our obsession with graphics and the raw-power of the machine and worry about other things.

Here's a few I can think of right now:

1) The Xbox 360 will still be using DVDs. Guess what, we have already managed to fill up a full DVD with some games. Because we're going with HD games now, that'll take up more space (or processor time if we compress it to save space) which we don't have.

2) The Xbox 360 is using 2.4GHhz wireless controllers last I heard. Not a bad concept, but what happens when the battery dies mid-game? What about the cost of batters that add up over time? What happens if I have some other 2.4GHz device such as a phone or wireless router in the near location? I'm not the most knowledgable about wireless communications, but could this cause some interference?

3) Backwards compatability might not be included. Every day I hear a different story. Please, someone tell me it's going to be there for sure. Shouldn't Microsoft be more worried about pissing off the installed customer base that they had to fight to get than trying to get a few more flops out of a processor?

Just my opinion, but let's focus more on the games than the hardware.

Re:Xbox 360 twice as fast as Xbox? (2, Interesting)

Brain_Recall (868040) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945406)

Since the tests were only on one core, each core running twice as fast as the previous generation should be more than enough.

The XBOX processor was a special one-off by Intel. It's closely based off the Pentium 3 Coppermine core, except with only 128KB of L2 cache (In that respect its like the Coppermine-based Celeron, who's name I forget. However, the processor uses a full 133MHz FSB for some extra kick.) There is no socket, either, with the proc soldered to the motherboard. Must of been interesting getting those 1.4GHz Tualatins soldered on there in those special Super-X Hyper Platinum!! EXTREME modded XBOX's.

The problem with new consoles is usually an entirely new development setup for them. The programmers this time around not only have to deal with a new development kit, but also a new instruction set and trying to figure out large-parallel programming. I pity those poor guys.
Usually, however, things only start to really get interesting towards the end of a consoles lifetime, when the developers have fully mastered the console. Just a recent example is Halo 2 on XBOX and how it compares to Halo 1. This is far more apparent on a more "different" (i.e. less like a PC) console like the PS2.

BTW, this article doesn't surprise me one bit. Sony over-hyped the PS2 to oblivion, and they did the same with the PS3. Simply, there's not enough silicon in there to be a super-computer in a box.

Random Thoughts: (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945111)

1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines? Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?

2. What will the next generation of consoles actually do to improve the quality of games? Polygon technology has reached an apex whereby increases in graphical quality are hardly noticable in most cases. What about the *fun* factor? Early generation consoles used increases in technology to give us better gameplay than before. This is easily visible in going from Atari 2600 -> NES -> SNES -> N64. The Atari was actually capable of very little (but was fun), while the NES had full graphics capabilities, but low color support. Jumping to the SNES provided tons of color, scaling, rotation, and other features that made games more fun. The N64 proved that 3D environments didn't have to be boring, linear, or only for shooting zombies (or demons as your preference may be). For example:

Zelda -> Zelda III: A Link to the Past -> Zelda 64
Contra -> Contra III
Super Mario Bros. (I-III) -> Super Mario World -> Mario 64
StarFox -> StarFox 64

Today's games, OTOH, are mostly just regurgitations of the FPS. Doom was a lot of fun when it came out, Quake was a hackers dream, and Quake III made blasting your buddies the best thing since sliced bread. (Unreal Tournament wasn't bad either.) But it really gets old after awhile. How many times can you run around shooting the same bad guys with the same tired weapons? Where's the new game play frontiers? While consoles were screwing around, I had fun playing RTSes on my computer. Or flying a starship in Bridge Commander. Or driving mechs around. i.e. Varied and interesting game play. Sadly, even that has disappeared on the PC.

Where's the gaming goodness? Where's the pointy sticks? Where is the Coconut Monkey!?!

While I realize that the gaming industry thinks that games are Hollywood productions, I honestly think fun games require nothing of the sort. Sure, I'd love to see another Wing Commander game with Mark Hammil and Tom Wilson, but that's not what the gaming industry is producing. What we need is for games to again break out of the mold and try new things. Keep riding the bleeding edge of gaming. It doesn't have to be an expensive game, just a *fun* one.

Tell me something: Why do games today *have* to be something I can't let my 5 year old son play? He still plays the old Nintendo games I used to play as a kid. He thinks they're a lot of fun. Yet do you think there's a chance in hell that I'm going to sit him in front of Doom III or an X-Box? No way! Why have we eschewed Gaming Goodness(TM) for violence and call it fun?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm getting old.

Re:Random Thoughts: (2, Insightful)

catch23 (97972) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945156)

yup. you're getting old. there are still fun games in the modern age, you just envy the prehistoric arcades.

Re:Random Thoughts: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945186)

Maybe I'm getting old.
Are you from Korea?

Re:Random Thoughts: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945324)

But, only old people in Korea play video games

Yay! You said Wing Commander! (1)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945190)

Well, was it not discussed somewhere on here that the new PS3 core was designed to be more "pretty" and not so much "smarter"? Seems like these days, people are more for the look of the game than the thought process required to play it. Well, I do enjoy the occasional FPS and such... but I'd also like a game to challenge my mind a bit. Not sure I liked the Link to the Past -> Zelda64 progression. :| But these days, games just... do it less and less for me. I enjoyed a game where I could not only fly ships, but my conversations changed outcomes. Games where I could drive the outcome in a game based on my skill and precision as a player. And when Wing Commander Online was right on the cuff of development... Origin canned it in favor of Ultima(te Disappointment) Online. Oh where have the cowboys gone indeed. :D

Re:Random Thoughts: (1)

snookerdoodle (123851) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945200)

I'm with you:

Stick with that Nintendo. My 8 and 9 year olds still *love* Zelda, etc. They like Sonic a lot, too (though I'm less enthralled with the wise-ass hedgehog).

They don't give a rat's backside about the fancy graphics. My 8 year old only wants a Playstation because some older kids tell him Shooterz 'R Kewl (fortunately, G4TV folks still like Zelda, increasing Nintendo's Coolness Factor somewhat).


Re:Random Thoughts: (4, Funny)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945264)

I would so play those "Shooterz'R Kewl" games if they would only make "Grand Theft Auto: Vatican City". Can't wait to be driving the popemobile around and hitting vatican knights. :D

Re:Random Thoughts: (3, Insightful)

tkavanaugh (863507) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945202)

can someone please bring back monkey island? i've always enjoyed shoovng the q-tip into the statue's ear....

Re:Random Thoughts: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945216)

How many times can you run around shooting the same bad guys with the same tired weapons?

I dunno. I'll tell you when I stop playing Doom.

Re:Random Thoughts: (5, Insightful)

Capt. Caneyebus (883802) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945228)

"Tell me something: Why do games today *have* to be something I can't let my 5 year old son play? He still plays the old Nintendo games I used to play as a kid. He thinks they're a lot of fun." If yall have noticed, Nintendo still puts more focus on making their games fun to play, rather than focusing on the games that are graphically intense. I think this is why I love my Game Cube so much.

Re:Random Thoughts: (5, Funny)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945230)

Where is the Coconut Monkey!?!

He would wave hello, but he has no hands.

(Yay for obscure references)

Re:Random Thoughts: (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945250)

Amen. I just can't spend my time on these clones of clones of clones anymore. When someone comes up with an original idea let me know.

Re:Random Thoughts: (5, Insightful)

tlmatters (860481) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945257)

Yep, you're getting old... that's where the wisdom you are exercising comes from.

I'm totally with you on kids and games. We did get my daughter both a N64 several years ago and recently a Gamecube, but a game doesn't go in until we've played it and given it a green light.

We chose the Nintendo over Sony or MS because Nintendo seems to have better (read appropriate) games for kids. Sure, there are mature titles like every other console, but it seems like a lower number.

So many people are robbing children of their childhood these days in exposing them to things that are inappropriate. It sounds like you are doing an awesome job with your son in that regard and that parental control will pay huge dividends in the future, just like it is now.

Re:Random Thoughts: (5, Informative)

aklix (801048) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945263)

The revolution is for you. Not only are nintendo games known for being popular around kids, but the Revolution will have downloadable classics that ran on old systems.

Re:Random Thoughts: 2 Words, Racing Games (1)

grimharvest (724023) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945265)

Whatever you think of FPS, nobody can deny that racing games are consistently improving from version to version. Anybody who's tried Burnout 3 or Midnight Club 3 can tell you it's some of the most intense gameplay out there. Especially MC3. The graphics, the music, the customization of the cars, and the action are all impressive. Most importantly of all, it's something you can do safely behind a console rather than doing it for real in the streets and kill somebody as occurred in Sacramento recently. Now compare these games to Pole Position from the old days.

Re:Random Thoughts: 2 Words, Racing Games (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945349)

Now compare these games to Pole Position from the old days.

Funny you should mention Pole Position. My brother-in-law and I had tons of fun competing with each other on one of those PacMan joystick things they sell these days. :-)

The graphics, the music, the customization of the cars, and the action are all impressive. Most importantly of all, it's something you can do safely behind a console rather than doing it for real in the streets and kill somebody as occurred in Sacramento recently.

Bah. Forget that. No console game will EVER beat the experience of San Francisco Rush! You can feel the car beneath you as the chair rumbles, the car responds nicely to the gear shift, and you slide around that corner just in time to go right under the truck, up the ramp, and over the building!

Betcha can't do THAT on your X-Box! ;-)

Seriously, the last arcade game I think I played was the SF:Rush ripoff with boats. The name escapes me at the moment, but grabing turbo boosts, knocking over tourist boats, falling down volcanos, and hitting all the right jumps was a lot of fun! :-D

Re:Random Thoughts: 2 Words, Racing Games (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945416)

Hydro Thunder?

SF:Rush doesn't have feedback on the chair. Not unless there is a high end version of it I haven't seen. SF:Rush will be included in Midway Arcade Treasures 3, which is coming out this fall for all the consoles.

There is a high end version of Daytona with lots of chair feedback. Very cool.

A few weeks ago I was at a D&B and played a really cool new shooter called Ghost Squad. Very cool.

Re:Random Thoughts: 2 Words, Racing Games (1)

alc6379 (832389) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945387)

Hear Hear!

I feel it might take a "special" kind of person to really appreciate a racing game, but that's one genre I can still see a lot of improvement to make, and a lot being made right now in the genre. One cool thing about racing games, especially those like Forza Motorsports, GT4, and others, are that the content will always be there-- year after year, there will be new, exciting cars to include in your racing game.

Re:Random Thoughts: (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945272)

1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers,

The game console makers want you to feel like the next generation of consoles can do everything a computer can do. They've wanted you to do think that since PS2. Well, if you have taken the time to RTFA, you would've seen that they are, again, not able to do what the computers can do, and are just machines optimized for easy gaming.

PCs can still handle higher resolutions in generally higher FPS with adaptable display features to match your needs/hardware. They are just generally more complicated to use.

Tell me something: Why do games today *have* to be something I can't let my 5 year old son play? He still plays the old Nintendo

Get him a Gamecube. Nintendo still makes tons of games that are fun for young kids.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm getting old.

Yeah, that's probably right. If you ask the teens these days, they'll tell you that there are many fun games out there that they enjoy very much. You probably don't have time to look for them or try them out, because there are so many more games available these days. A lot of these games are a lot more complex, which makes them more fun for the generation of teens that grew up with the latest technology, and doesn't find simple games as much fun as the previous generation did. It doesn't mean that they are not fun, it just means that you have to be more comfortable with the complexity of them, and you have to invest more time into playing them. The older you get, the less time you have in your life to devote to serious gaming... unfortunately.

Re:Random Thoughts: (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945299)

1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines? Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?

I think I'm fairly close to being the ideal target consumer for consoles - owning the original PSX (now defunct), Dreamcast and PS2 (and definitely about to buy either PS3 or next XBox). I am also a typical suburban father (who also enjoys techno-gagdets) with three sons (who enjoy them even more). For me, the purpose of having separate machines is obvious: console gaming is always done in the living room and it is always more or less a social phenomenon. Personal computer gaming is also present in my house, but it is - as the name suggests - exactly personal. That's how I see the difference and the purpose of owning separate copies of - say - "Tomb Raider" for the computer and the console.

Re:Random Thoughts: (3, Interesting)

Slack3r78 (596506) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945361)

1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines? Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?

Personally, I'd argue that this is an incorrect premise. The next-gen consoles are *not* general-purpose computers, but rather, extremely powerful media DSPs. The multicore, in-order execution of the Cell and the Xenon are meant to eat through datasets very quickly, but aren't going to be particularly powerful for general purpose use.

Both these CPUs are going to require quite a bit of rethinking of design by developers as traditional engine designs just aren't going to perform that well. Design is going to have the shift toward highly threaded engines which are designed around the idea of feeding datasets into each of the many cores as quickly as possible. The XBox 360 in particular was designed around the idea of dynamically generating as much content as possible, rather than using stored content as in the past, but the Cell's design lends toward the same type of approach.

I'm not sure whether or not this is why developers are reporting the machines to be relatively underpowered or not, but I'd certainly suspect it. To be quite frank, our current engine designs will *not* run well on this type of an architechture. In general computing terms, it wouldn't surprise me that the 360 is only twice as powerful. As a media DSP, however, Xenon should run circles around the P6 based CPU of the XBox.

In short, these next-gen consoles are based around a very specific set of requirements, and I wouldn't expect them to replace your desktop PC any time particularly soon. Set-top box, sure. But they're not general purpose computers.

Re:Random Thoughts: (2, Interesting)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945386)

Play ICO on the PS2 (best game ever made)

Check out Wanda versus the Collosus (AKA Shadow Versus the Collosus) Its made by the team that made ICO.

These guys make games like fine art. Do yourself a favor and check out these games. Good luck finding a copy of ICO for PS2... Its worth looking for it though. Amazing sense of story and adventure through subtle and "of the moment" like atmosphere. Great ending... beautiful music. Its like a Miyazaki film.

Sony's ICO team is incredible!!!

Re:Random Thoughts: (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945395)

"With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines?"

Like the old Mac ads: It Just Works. Drop in the disk, plug the box into the TV and you're good to go. No having to fish around in the OS to adjust display settings because you're opting to use TV output, for example.

They also tend not to have bug-ridden web browsers "intergrated" into them.

"Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?"

For that set of people who buy the bleeding edge hardware. I could go on, but this'd turn into flamebait.

"How many times can you run around shooting the same bad guys with the same tired weapons?"

How many times can you run around a maze eating dots? The 1980's game crash happened for a reason, and there are those that believe, as gaming and, more specifically, game content have gone mainstream, we may be staring down another one on the horizon, possibly with this upcoming generation of hardware.

At this point, I'd say that, if not this upcoming generation, then the generation after that will rely on whatever Nintendo still has up their sleeves for the Revolution. They claim that they'll be targeting non-gamers like nobody else (while Microsoft and Sony both seem to still be aiming at the "appliance" angle), but whether or not they can actually deliver remains to be seen.

"While I realize that the gaming industry thinks that games are Hollywood productions, "

I'd say more that Hollywood believes that games are Hollywood productions. Look at who owns what game companies nowadays. They're applying Hollywood thinking to game publishing, and that's even failing them in the movie-making business nowadays.

"Keep riding the bleeding edge of gaming."

Bleeding edge isn't as safely profitable as rehashing out old games.

"Why do games today *have* to be something I can't let my 5 year old son play?"

So long as 18-24 year-old guys keep on spending lots of money on little more than tits and blood, then that's what they're going to keep publishing. It's going to continue to be this way until that demographic decides to move on to something else (which I don't think has ever happened in the history of humanity), or some other demographic rises up and throws around equally large sums of money on something else. This goes back to the Hollywood factor.

Again, things will depend on the Revolution's ability to reach its stated goal of attracting large numbers of non-gamers.

Where oh where (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945112)

is the frist psot?

Who cares about the CPU? (5, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945114)

I just want a lazy-susan thingie on the bottom of my new XBOX360 so I can rotate it the promised 360 degrees...

Re:Who cares about the CPU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945362)

Sorry, what that means is that the console will change its absolute orientation to the sun 360 degrees in the course of a 24 hour day.

in soviet russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945122)

I don't know what happens in soviet russia.

Console makers overhyping their products? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945128)

That's unpossible!

Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945130)

But... but... we all can turn to NINTENDO to be that savior we needed!

Apple's CPU search (1)

flyhigher (643174) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945132)

Steve Jobs reportedly met with Sony prior to the Intel switch and came to the same conclusion. I'm curious what techniques Apple used to quantify the Cell's CPU performance?

This just in... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945139)

This just in: PC Hardware site blasts consoles while citing anonymous "sources" and blatant factually incorrect claims (for instance, PPE core = Xenon core).

Developers atuned to developing for PCs with their out of order execution and high general-purpose performance port their code quickly to these in-order CPUs that rely on multiple threads for performance, and find that the performance isn't blistering!

It turns out they'll need to make more efficient code, as Xenon/Cell forgo lots of transistors that make horrible code perform better.

Gag me...

So... (4, Insightful)

natron 2.0 (615149) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945140)

And this is news? The console makers have been doing this for years. Remember when the PS2 was announced and we were told of its "Toy Story Quality Graphics Rendering"? Same thing with the infamous "Mode 7" in the Super NES system. Who can forget the So called 16 bit TurboGrafix 16? As I stated above, the console makers have hyped up every system that has ever been released and all have failed to meet the hype that preceeded them...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945205)

Who can forget the So called 16 bit TurboGrafix 16?

Damn straight! That system had some of the most addictive games ever, and some great - really playable - arcade ports!

Oh, you were bitching about the hardware? Oops, my bad. I thought you were talking about something that mattered.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945207)

Except the amiga. Bizarrely antihyped, that was.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945293)

I should point out that not all hype is equal. Case in point: Sega announced its Dreamcast would push 3.5 million polygons per second. It did so, and its maximum was soon found to actually be ~5 million. Sony announced its upcoming PS2 would push an incredible (to me anyway) 160 million polygons per second. Its real maximum was ~8. Sit the two side-by-side and you can scarcely tell the difference -- except the DC's greater texture RAM makes for sharper, less compressed textures.

I remember all this so clearly because of a coworker of mine, a Sony fanboy, and how he spent months slagging off the Dreamcast and sighing over the PS2 hype. I eventually picked up a Dreamcast cheap, since if he was so persistently down on it, it had to be pretty good. (...and it was)

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

ALeavitt (636946) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945396)

The infamous "Mode 7" of which you speak actually added a lot to some SNES games. Remember the overhead levels in Contra 3? Tons of rotating objects in Super Castlevania IV? How about all of F-Zero? All of those games used mode 7 graphics, and it was completely revolutionary to console gamers. I remember my friends and I being blown away by the use of mode 7 in those first generation games, but later on when it was put to better use in Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, and especially Super Mario Kart, they proved that it was more than just an overhyped hardware bell/whistle, and integral to the gameplay of some true classics of the 16-bit era.

PPU is the answer. (5, Interesting)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945148)

Physics processors came too late for this generation of consoles. This will really put PCs over the top. This should be coming out by the end of the year.

Re:PPU is the answer. (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945209)

According to the article, Physics calculations might be squeezed onto Cells which should help the PS3 quite a bit. If only the Cells weren't so memory limited (didn't Sony learn from the PS2? Huge main memory is only good if you can get that data where it is needed quickly! Well, at least it HAS a huge main memory back.)

Final Parts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945150)

Are the cpus that are going to be in the final box (not the dev kits) even out yet? Even so, it's obvious that they're overhyped. The only quote I'm inclined to believe is nintendo's (2-3 times faster overall).

Article mirror in case of slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945159)

And posted anonymously so as not to karma whore
Mirror [tripod.com]

Re:Article mirror in case of slashdotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945223)




Come on... can't we do better, like coral, or something?

:shocked: (5, Funny)

yotto (590067) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945168)

Slashdot needs emoticons, if just so we can pretend to be shocked.

=8-o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945204)

Slashdot needs emoticons, if just so we can pretend to be shocked.

You mean like this... =8-o

Re::shocked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945235)

:donkey sex:

Re::shocked: (1)

Shazow (263582) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945241)

Slashdot needs emoticons, if just so we can pretend to be shocked.

Take your pick:


I can't tell you how to make them though, you gotta figure it out on your own. >.>

Re::shocked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945296)

Slashdot needs emoticons, if just so we can pretend to be shocked.

We can just re-map the Sci-Fi icon to "OH NOES!11!!1!" and make Sci-Fi a saucer or something.

At least, that's the impression I get out of it.

PC gaming isn't dead (0)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945174)

I keep reading that PC gaming will die sooner rather than later. What this article says to me is that even a dedicated console will be roughly as powerful as high-end PCs in a year or so. In two years, most average PCs will have the same power as a next-gen console.

Now, the matter is far more complicated than simple CPU/GPU power. What it says to me is that there's plenty of room for PCs to continue to drive innovation in the world of gaming.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (1)

GutBomb (541585) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945273)

every time a new console comes out the same things are said:

This console is so great that it will be better than any PC game ever! well, a year after the console is out the PC's of that day are much more powerful and capable than the consoles. happens every time, and will keep happening.

It's not about power (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945298)

It's not about power. Not only do most people not care what's in their PS2/XBox, most people don't even realize that they're essentially just super-optimized tiny PC's. It's about putting a shiny silver disk in the slot, and pushing the power button. PC games would have to be *significantly* better to make me (or anybody else I know) go through the *huge* pain in the ass of dealing with games on even modern Windows boxes.

Case in point... I've been trying to get the Sims 2 working on my GF's new, fast PC. It's been more than 2 weeks of tech support, and it's still not fixed. On top of that, she doesn't like me fucking with her work machine *that* much. She said that she doesn't care if the PC version is better. She's fed up with it (as am I), and she's returning it for a PS2 version.

In fact, when *I'm* looking at modern consoles, I can't figure out why in the hell anybody would want a hard drive in their console. That just adds a shitload of unnecessary complexity that I'm trying to get away from by turning on my PS2 and turning my computer off.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945304)

What it says to me is that there's plenty of room for PCs to continue to drive innovation in the world of gaming.

Mod parent funny, if only for this quote.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (1)

pegasustonans (589396) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945314)

What it says to me is that there's plenty of room for PCs to continue to drive innovation in the world of gaming

Errmm... Ok, let me see, Doom 3 and Half-life 2. Great games, certainly innovative in many ways, old hat in other ways, but that's about all I can think of in terms of big games that came out for PC within the past year, and both of those are either out for consoles or will be coming to a console in the near future. I'm sure some other people can think up a few other recent examples of exemplary PC games, but the fact of the matter is that console gaming is driving the gaming market these days. I remember how it used to be different, but when I browse the PC Gaming aisle these days, it's pretty slim pickings.

Now, if you're talking about innovation in terms of making pretty graphics, then I agree with you 100%.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945410)

You forget the games that are coming out. For example, look at Age of Empires 3.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (1)

Hollins (83264) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945371)

PC games just seem to have richer immersion. I'm not sure why. For FPS, a lot of that naturally comes from the speed and precision of using a mouse for input and having a bunch of mappable keys, though with all the buttons on current console controls, this is becoming less and less the case. A lot of games benefit from having a full keyboard, regardless.

We usually play console games sitting on the couch, but PC games at a desk. PC games seem to excel at online competition, console games have big edge when competing against others on the same unit.

I think PC games will still be around for a long time, but the release schedule for major games seems increasingly inverted. Games used to be developed and released first on PC, then ported to console. Now things are becoming the other way around.

Re:PC gaming isn't dead (2, Insightful)

Rhys (96510) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945381)

Are you sure you didn't read it backwards? Because they said the next gen console's CPUs are less powerful than the current P4/Athlon offerings. (much less the offerings that'll be there 6 months to a year from now at launch-date)

The GPUs are ahead but they're not going to be much ahead of the top of the line Nvidia/ATI cards at the time of launch, and within a year at most those cards will be inexpensive enough to be "enthusiast mainstream" cards.

So it seems if you would "spend the money" you'd have a faster CPU and an equivilant GPU. Hard to say they're useless to game on.

Slashdot called this a year ago (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945179)

Sony was hyping up the Cell so much it was almost guarenteed to suck.

It's almost like the Cell architecture was designed to score the highest possible score on trivial benchmarks (like the ones that give you FLOPS) without worrying about real world performance. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, the Emotion Engine (PS2)!

Wasn't Sony saying that we'd be sticking Cell processers in everything because they were going to be so great? I seem to recall talk about personal computers switching over to Cell because it was going to blow regular processors away. In a way, it does (FLOPS), but in practice it's way slower than even processers from last year.

Re:Slashdot called this a year ago (2, Insightful)

rpozz (249652) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945286)

Well, yes. There were benchmarks being put around suggesting that the Cell would be faster than 4 Opterons or something crazy like that. People were suggesting that there would be 4 x 4GHz Cell CPUs in the PS3. Absolutely crazy stuff.

I think when Apple ditched PPC architecture, that gave it away that the Cell wouldn't be as good as everyone thought it would be. I'd imagine Jobs would have taken at least a passing glance at it before making the switch,

More hype (4, Insightful)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945182)

From the submission: ...you get what you pay for.

We don't know what any system will cost.

Re:More hype (1)

th1ckasabr1ck (752151) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945283)

"We don't know what any system will cost."

You don't, but 'real world game developers who have had first hand experience writing code for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware' might.

Re:More hype (5, Informative)

JonN (895435) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945306)

It is true that they have no released a MRSP for the next-gen consoles however Merrill Lynch business analysts have placed their estimate for the PS3 at $399USD. What makes this interesting is that it has been expected that each system will cost Sony $494 to build. The full article can be read here [ferrago.com].

Just all hype. Better idea. (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945198)

You can't build a faster processor than a graphics gpu for graphics.

What the console makers should be doing is bundling TWO graphics cards in their systems so you can double the polygons of a regular high end computer.

But that would cost $$$.

Quite obvious (2, Insightful)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945212)

Of course this isn't surprising to any of us slashdotters, we all recall the massive amounts of hype surrounding the PS2 for example. There was everything from "X times as fast as PS1" to "will improve viewing quality on PS1 Cds" etc.

One of the major reasons not to believe the hype is that legally Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft may test their new processors on ANY machine they wish, including an extremely expensive, painstakingly built device in a lab somewhere. Then, after acheiving an astoundingly high speed from it, may publish the info legally, all thats required is that the processor actually produced the speed results in something.

But once the processor makes it into your PS3 or 360 the speed is considerably impaired. What was 3.8 teraflops will decrease to around half a teraflop, perhaps less, simply due to the build quality of the device...its simply nowhere near cost effective to produce something on a mass scale capable of 5 or 10 teraflops yet. Also theres marketing statistic-inflation to take into account too of course.

News? (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945234)

Microsoft, Sony Promise Sun, Moon, Failt to Deliver! Film at 11!

We saw this with the Xbox and the PS2, we saw it to an extent with the PSX. This shouldn't surprise anybody at this point.

Really, I've gotten over looking at tech specs and I'm simply waiting to hear about the titles each will have. So far, FFXI for Xbox 360 is vaguely interesting, but I already have the PS2 version (and could probably install it on the PS3 if I really, really wanted to). Beyond that, I'm not sure S-E is even going to be playing the "exclusive title" game any more (after all, XI is canon Final Fantasy and will be appearing on two different consoles now. XII seems locked in for PS2, but beyond that... and let alone any future DQ games...)

PS3 might get my interest if they up-scan the resolution on PSX polygons (like Bleem!), but I doubt they will and I already have hardware to play PSX games at their original resolution.

So far, the only system that has games for it I know I will like is the Revolution, if only for the "download old ROMs" aspect. Especially if Sega gets in on the act as they've been hinting.

Remember "Advanced Polygon Graphics"? (1)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945240)

Well I don't. I opted not to hurt my eyes with the "awesomeness" of it. At any rate, with situations such as these, I'm surprised that there is a move away from the powerhouse desktop computers and towards the gaming consoles. It just seems like things are getting more and more disappointing as time progresses... why not write up a game that can fully utilize your computer, slap it on a Linux platform, and call it a day? :D I should start a software company... :o

Re:Remember "Advanced Polygon Graphics"? (1)

3rdParty (719962) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945399)

well, one problem with "powerhouse" PC's is their very existence. Playing any online shooter against a guy with a much faster PC than you will be an uphill battle, if you don't get wiped out off the bat. Consoles offer a level playing field, so all players can develop their skills to succeed against foes with no hardware advantage. I've got better things to do with my money than buying new hardware every six months, so online gaming is restricted to my console, for the most part. I'm surely not alone.

development hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945259)

You people do realize that the current PS3 and 360 dev kits are not the finished version of the hardware right? The xbox 360 hardware available at E3 was about 50 percent less powerful than the final system is supposed to have.

Why is this news? (1)

ImagistTD (890609) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945261)

Of course it's not as good as the hype. Hype=false advertising. False advertising=how to get money. Getting money=goal of every corporation of any kind. It's really not a difficult concept, here.

Film at 11 (2, Insightful)

3rdParty (719962) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945266)

Wow, every genertoin of consoles, people forget there is no magic inside. The very point of a console is the dedicated nature of the guts, not "hardware from the future." You don't need the fastest processor to provide superior performance. When developers can focus their development efforts on a single, stationary target, they can optimize the engine in ways that are either prohibitively costly or simply not possible when targeting the ludicrously disparate and constantly changing environment of multipurpose PCs.

At the planning stages, the hardware in a console is ahead of the status quo, but by release time, the hardware is merely state of the art at best. Fanbois brag about their chosen console's "superior tech," but more informed folks appreciate the benefits of a stable platform allowing developers to push the limits of the hardware and find untapped potential in otherwise standard hardware. Compare the first games on any console to the last releases to see the great improvements possible through experience.

Re:Film at 11 (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945375)

It's a shame that it looks like both platforms will be performing behind even PCs of today by a good margin once they are finally released.

The Cell has a shot though. If the developers figure out ways to make the cells useful for more than trivial parts of the game the PS3 could see a noticeable boost, but being hamstrung by a limited amount of working memory is a tough obstacle to hurdle, especially if calls to main memory are ridiculously slow (as they apparently are).

It looks like the Xbox might be up a creek though.

Both players are apparently optimizing for games with fancy graphics but not much below the hood though, which is a real shame.

3 Core vs. 1 Core (2, Informative)

Billy the Impaler (886238) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945284)

" The Xbox 360's Xenon CPU features more general purpose cores than the PlayStation 3 (3 vs. 1), however game developers will most likely only be using one of those cores for the majority of their calculations..." Why on God's green earth would a programmer not use all of the processor(s)? Just to be lazy? Absolutely not! Games cost too much to develop not to take advantage of the hardware. Performance sells games these days. For a sony programmer to stay alive he'll have to use the machine to its fullest extent.

What really sells consoles (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12945320)

is games. If the game you want exists only on a particular console, that's the console you will buy. Everything else is marketing mumbo-jumbo.

How do you get the good games? Be very good to the developers. Have a good enough market share so the developers think it is worthwhile to develop on your console. Hearing that Microsoft is becoming less developer friendly is bad news for Microsoft. They are coming into a market full of entrenched players. They should be very very developer friendly. That's the only way they will get the next great game.

okay, i'll have a slug at it ... (2, Interesting)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945331)

We mentioned before that collision detection is able to be accelerated on the SPEs of Cell, despite being fairly branch heavy. The lack of a branch predictor in the SPEs apparently isn't that big of a deal, since most collision detection branches are basically random and can't be predicted even with the best branch predictor. So not having a branch predictor doesn't hurt, what does hurt however is the very small amount of local memory available to each SPE. In order to access main memory, the SPE places a DMA request on the bus (or the PPE can initiate the DMA request) and waits for it to be fulfilled. From those that have had experience with the PS3 development kits, this access takes far too long to be used in many real world scenarios. It is the small amount of local memory that each SPE has access to that limits the SPEs from being able to work on more than a handful of tasks. While physics acceleration is an important one, there are many more tasks that can't be accelerated by the SPEs because of the memory limitation.,

well .. at the risk of being a bit fan-boix [slashdot.org], what about throwing Judy [sourceforge.net] arrays at the problem [sourceforge.net] .. ermm .. i mean, put Judy on Cell .. and use a combination of edge-detection and fast count by value ... [sourceforge.net]

i mean, its not like vector can't function as simple hash. or am i missing out something important about this 'collision detection business' that can't be parallelized?

(i wouldn't know, incidentally, i don't do 3d/gaming .. so please point out my idiocy freely, at will, and as great a length as you can muster..)

Sources? (2, Insightful)

Macadoshis (893254) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945333)

In the article they state "every developer we talked to thought this was the wrong decision." Throughout the article they invoke "developers" to validate their case. Yet they never name them.

Summary of the article... (2, Insightful)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945360)

To summarize the article, it looks like the Xbox 360 and PS3 will actually be as powerful as the Nintendo Revolution is promised to be (and not 30 times more "powerful" like Sony and MS claimed at E3).

HDTV gaming, lag? (5, Interesting)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945373)

I know some people who run current-gen consoles thru scalers (or use their HD set's scaler) have issues with lag: microseconds between when a controller is actuated and when the effect is displayed onscreen.

Scaler folks have had issues with HD upconversion lag when it comes to, say, DVDs. However, many HT receivers will let you customize your audio delay to compensate since lag should be fairly consistent. There's really no compensation for gaming, unless you're psychic.

Presumably, the next gen of consoles (along with decent GPUs in general purpose computers) will not have this issue since their output resolutions bypass scalers. However, some of the upcoming 1080p sets (Samsung at least) will not take 1080p via their HDMI inputs, so they'll deinterlace 1080i internally, and beyond picture quality concerns this may impact when it comes to lag. Or, use their RGB ins and suffer from D->A->D conversion.

hype targets the audience... (1)

super_ogg (620337) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945376)

And who is the audience? Not the slashdot community or the geeks and nerds who know how this stuff actually works.

They are working the mindless zombies who are going on specifications they really don't understand.

"10 times faster"!!!

Who gives a fuck about the numbers when you see '10 times faster' on the box. Right?

"Brutal Honesty" means "Invitation to Bash" :-) (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945409)

The article says they asked developers to only be brutally honest. Basically, that means they're asking them to bash anything even marginally negative about the products, and the negative comments will be the primary focus of the article, because that's really much more fun than writing about "Some of the hype is really really true and some of it's a bit premature", and you're almost never going to write a realistic article that says the real thing is EVEN MORE EXCITING than the hype already says it is. Occasionally the hype-writers won't have done a good enough job hyping, and occasionally the hype-writers have different preferences than the developers, so the developers may be excited about how developer-friendly and cleanly extensible the motion and shading tools are, as opposed to how scary the monsters are, how creepy the background music is, and how awesome the BFG-9000 Rocket-Grenade is for blasting scary monsters.

But not real often. Especially because you're either talking to the developers during the death march to get the game out the door by pre-Christmas rush time or just post-shipping when they're detoxing from months of caffeine abuse but definitely before the profit-sharing checks from any successful games have gotten there. So of course they'll be grouchy. And that's what you want, because it's fun to write that stuff.

Who cares? (1)

Jack Johnson (836341) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945414)

I like Anandtech and have for many years but this article seems pretty pointless.

The only purpose I can see would be to make PC Gamers (the lifeblood of sites like Anandtech) feel better about dumping $$$ into PC hardware. The cold-cathode, lexan window crowd, pc-specs-in-my-signature crowd can rest assured that they will, *technically* have the baddest boxes around sitting on their desks.

Comparing $300 consoles to PCs with $300+ video cards is just dumb. This is particularly when the gaming experience provided by each would be considered comparable by most people.

Take both sides with a grain of salt. (5, Insightful)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 8 years ago | (#12945419)

On one hand, I'm not surprised by this. Console makers always hype their consoles to near-obnoxious levels (with the exception of perhaps Nintendo, but even they hyped the N64 as an "SGI workstation in your living room" at one e3). Sony and Microsoft have not changed their tenor since their last iteration (Sony: "Oh no, PS2 is *so powerful* the US might consider it a weapon!" Microsoft: "Check out all of these dynamically lit/shaded ping-pong balls... and this is only at at 1/5th power!!").

However, take the Anandtech article with a smaller grain of salt, too. I'm not sure which quotes from the article were attributed to final hardware and which were talking about the development kits (we already know that the Powermac xbox devstation is slower... or at least that's what one of the EA guys told me at E3). There was this quote:
Developers have just recently received more final Xbox 360 hardware, and gauging performance of the actual Xenos GPU compared to the R420 based solutions in the G5 development kits will take some time.
My guess is same can be said for CPU as well as GPU but that's a hunch.

Besides that, realize that the developers get much, much better at maximizing the hardware over time. When the SNES came out, developers complained that the extra colors and memory were pointles because the cpu was too damn slow (3.5 mhz, right?). 1st wave games had smallish sprites, tons of slowdown when things got busy, and many arcade ports only had a single-player option because 2-player bogged the hardware). Towards the end you had near-perfect ports of streetfighter 2, and full-color, parallax scrolling games with several large sprites like Donkey Kong Country. My hunch is that the 2nd wave games for 360 and ps3 will have similar gains.

It's still a really good article and worth checking out, but I'm not surprised in either direction.
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