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IBM's Radical Cell Processor

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the those-wacky-chips dept.

IBM 298

Rouslan Solomakhin writes "Forbes has recently posted an article on IBM's new revolutionary Cell processor. Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics. Applications in other areas are also considered." From the article: "Some techies say PlayStation 3, which may debut by midyear and could end up in 100 million homes in five years, will usher in the next microchip revolution. The Sony system owes its prowess to a microprocessor called Cell, which was cooked up by chip wizards at IBM (with help from Sony and Toshiba) at a cost of $400 million over five years."

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IBM really needs to prove themselves (4, Funny)

Vivek Jishtu (905067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470470)

With Apple no longer buying chips from them, they really need to prove themselves.

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470482)

Why? Apple was a rather low-volume business for IBM.

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (3, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470498)

Apple was defiantly a low volume buyer but they were a big source of free marketing . Now with the recent upsurge in consumer products using the PPC chips IBM does not need apple as much and apple definitely does not need IBM , so all is well for both companies

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (3, Insightful)

Mad_Fred (530564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470497)

They do? Last time I looked, IBM processors were inside all the current "next generation" consoles. To me, it looks like IBM is the surest winner in the next/current/upcoming (pick your perspective) round of console wars. As an AC already pointed out, Apple mus have been a really low-volume customer for IBM, and probably a picky one at that.

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470500)

uh.... IBM is a much larger company than Apple.

Cell development started 5 years ago... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470517) the summary states.

Lol, mod parent up Funny as hell (1, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470550)

Come on it has to be a joke. If the PS3 OR the 360 OR the Revolution wins then IBM will be the one selling the chip that is inside it. The various game companies may have to subsidise the hardware or sell it at cost but you can rest assured that IBM is doing no such thing. They sell the chips for hard profit.

If the new consoles are going to sell in the same numbers as the existing ones then they will outsell Apples by a degree that just ain't funny.

One of the reasons Apple is switching to Intel is that IBM just didn't give a fuck about Apple. Not nearly enough chips in it. It has been Apples problem all along, it never could convince its chip makers to focus on the features its wanted since the real money was in embedded versions of the chips. Were power is less important and running without a fan is super important.

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (2, Informative)

max909 (619312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470645)

This had nothing to do with the Apple-Intel Deal or Apple dropping IBM/PowePC. Infact, actually Apple is one step back as none of the Apple-Intel systems are 64-bit Enabled

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (3, Insightful)

uncleFester (29998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470647)

With Apple no longer buying chips from them, they really need to prove themselves.

If you equate Power or IBM processors with Apple, then you have no clue. Check out a few datacenters and see just what's running inside some of those large black boxes with 3 blue letters on them. You keep your G4/G5, I'll stick to playing with Power4s, Power5s (and the projected Power6s when they get here).

*patpatpat*.. just lay your little head back down, don't you fret none... *patpatpat*


Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (5, Informative)

talornin (745646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470668)

Acutaly, no.

Much of the reason Apple switched to Intel was because IBM didnt want to make the chips Apple watned.
Apple has for a long time made demands of their chip producers to make this and that chip with this and that feature, then they order a wery low volume at first to ensure they dont get stuck with an overflow should the product flop in any way.
Then they make new, larger, orders if the product is a hit and the chip producer runs into supplying dificulties. Apple blames the chips vendor.
This happened with the 68k, G4 and G5. When Apple wanted new CPU's IBM basicaly told them to get lost because they just wasnt a big enough client to justify the demands they made.

IBM managed quite well before the G5 deal and will manage quite well after.

(Just for the record: This was posted from my darling PowerBook! I am a Mac user and an Apple fanatic! So this is _not_ Apple-bashing, just a statement of facts!)

Re:IBM really needs to prove themselves (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470832)

(Just for the record: This was posted from my darling PowerBook! I am a Mac user and an Apple fanatic! So this is _not_ Apple-bashing, just a statement of facts!)

I love those kind of comments, whenever somebody posts a Linux/Apple/BSD flamebait post they always attach this kind of comments "in fact I am writting from my XXXX distro or o YYYY Mac or with my ZZZZ BSD firewall...

Like if, those where some *magical* words that changed what their flamebait... why dont you show us some real "proof" that you are on a powerbook, people writting this kind of comments should add a h ref= showing some proof of their Linux/Mac/BSD or whatever.

but its the games... (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470471)

the technology sounds impressive, but i can't help but feel that it is the games for consoles which are the most important factor, and by good games I mean good game play. Whenever they create new technology like this it just creates a new push to make even more games which are 50 hour long FMVs. I wouldn't buy a PS3 even if i thought the games would be good because i'm avoiding sony over the rootkit. by the way if you want to log in use password and username "slashdot".

Re:but its the games... (1)

erikdotla (609033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470570)

Kind of a dumb reason to avoid the PS3, considering that it was Sony BMG, wholly unrelated to the Sony games division, responsible for the rootkit. It's a huge company responsible for all kinds of technology, and to boycott Sony entirely would be like avoiding all GM for one mistake, made by one group of people, in a single Pontiac model car. Especially for a device like the PS3 which you can buy in cash, leave the online component alone and use it in total secrecy while wearing your tinfoil hat.

Re:but its the games... (3, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470739)

a mistake is forgetting to tighten a bolt, or carry the two, resulting in problems down the line.

sony's rootkit was an intenional and corporate level decision. DRM itself has no justification for existence at all. When confronted with the fact that it does not stop piracy, executives often come clean by putting forth a "positively spun" statement which pans out to, and i paraphrase: "we want to deny the technologically unsavvy of flexibility theyre used to in order to screw them out of money we dont really deserve"

Sony's products arent that great either. most sony stuff i've owned has broken (not broken down.. literally broken like plates break), so i have no trouble with the idea of not buying their flimsy and anticonsumer products.

Bad link? (1)

MBtronics (644764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470473)

Is this a bad link or is that page already slashdotted?

Re:Bad link? (2, Informative)

Vivek Jishtu (905067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470486)

You need to login with your "FREE" account :)

Re:Bad link? (1)

yobjob (942868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470521)

Maybe so, but now it won't let me access the second page!

Re:Bad link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470495)

Odd, if you go to and type "IBM cell" into their site search box, the second entry of the results list entitled "Holy Chip!" is this same URL, which produces an HTTP 404 error.

Emotion Engine! (4, Insightful)

fussili (720463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470475)

**Outside the Sony Booth being handed fisherman's waders**
[Gabe]: What are these waders for?
[Tycho]: My guess? All the bullshit

It's not that I don't think this chip might be as fantastic as everyone says but since Sony has basically lied out its ass for its past 3 consoles, I'm not giving it the benefit of the doubt with the PS3 and god save any journalist who gets sucked into their schilling.

Re:Emotion Engine! (2, Interesting)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470481)

No matter how good the Cell processor is, what about the GPU? Even though it's just rumours at this point, isn't their graphics card pretty much similar in specs to the one in the 360?

Re:Emotion Engine! (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470558)

Why bother with a GPU when you have all those cpu's?

Because those "CPU"s aren't really CPUs.. (2, Informative)

Polarism (736984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470597)

Same way the 3 cores on the xbox360 aren't the same as 3 cores on a normal processor. You give up a lot to get that stuff to fit into the budget of the console. I don't recall offhand exactly what the details are, but I know that in the 360's case those 3 cores are not full PPC970's. y/pa-fpfxbox/?ca=dgr-lnxw09XBoxDesign []

Re:Emotion Engine! (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470649)

Because GPUs are specifically designed to perform operations required in rendering 3d graphics, and CPUs aren't. To get the same performance when swapping a GPU for a CPU, the CPU needs to be much faster than the GPU you're replacing.

Re:Emotion Engine! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470728)

In this case, the cells are vector processors, not necessarily CPUs, IIRC, much like what is in a GPU. Maybe a high performance GPU isn't as necessary, just use a DAC? At any rate, we'll eventually find out when the real product hits to know if this is what it is and actually competitive.

Re:Emotion Engine! (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470763)

No, the vector elements in a Cell are not capable of doing the work of a GPU. Nor are they intended to do it.

A typical GPU is the same size (or larger) than a CPU, and it's optimized for pumping out pixels. It will take more than 7 DSPs to do the same work.

I'm sure that the PS3 and X360 will be about equal in power. But they are different enough that it may help make the exclusive games differ in interesting ways.

Re:Emotion Engine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470514)

Right. We've had the "movie-quality" thing for every single Sony console so far. PS1, it was going to look as good as Jurassic Park! PS2 could do Toy Story in real time! Now PS3 is going to be indistinguishable from real life, and also cure cancer.

Fuck that. Revolution for me - at least Nintendo are honest about what their consoles do, and concentrate on how much their games are like games, not how much they're like movies.

Re:Emotion Engine! (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470523)

yes but can the same be said about toshiba and ibm?

Re:Emotion Engine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470616)

Ah nothing like Microsoft fanboys trying very hard to prop up their favourite Microsoft toy, the Xbox 360.

Rootkits, Emotion Engine, DRM.... Microsoft fanboys always seem to put their 2 cents in, and mod up pro-Microsoft flamebait as "Insightful".

Movie Like Games (5, Funny)

sirstar (789206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470476)

So, does this mean the PS3 will have more games based on movies?

Re:Movie Like Games (1)

JoaoPinheiro (749991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470625)

Yeah, Charlie's Angels being the first to be announced.

Re:Movie Like Games (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470636)

This years best: Gigli - Teh action game


Re:Movie Like Games (1)

huge (52607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470850)

No, it means that story line is as good as in recent Hollywood films.

Re:Movie Like Games (1)

Sky Cry (872584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470884)

And they'll be called "sequels".

Radical cell? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470478)

Forbes has recently posted an article on IBM's new revolutionary Cell

Damn, the enemy within. I can't believe they've infiltrated IBM. Is nowhere safe?

oh really? (5, Insightful)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470487)

>Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality game


more like:

Rumours and hype about playstation 3 intended to reduce sales of Xbox 360.

nothing to see here...

Re:oh really? (2, Informative)

lsw (95027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470766)

I have seen a detailed analysis [] at 22C3 of the Cell and it's impressive. Really, by any means. But the maximum gains will be achieved only after a few years/months after the PS3 is out and not in graphics but in AI, physics simulation. Also it looked very well if you're a blade server user, but you'll have to tweak your apps. It's a multicore and does not care about backward compatibility.

The slides of the presentation can be downloaded from 22c3_slides.pdf []

Bottom line is that when the Emotion Engine (PS2 core processor) came out the claims where not substantiated by facts and Sony fudged its way through making hilarious claims (which no one in the mainstream press ridiculed at the time).

PS. There is a patent filed from Sony a few years back that basically says that Cell processor can communicate with each other and share their computing power, like in a room your PS3 can use your PC/PDA/Oven spare cycles to help you frag in better quality. Was hyped by Sony when they annouced the PS3 but havent seen anything in the PS3 at the moment.

But who cares in the end? The only thing that I'm excited about is the Revolution controller!


Re:oh really? (1)

SalaciousPucker (911419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470854)

While it's undisputed that there is an abundance of power, how much of that is theoretical vs practical/useful remains an open question. Memory bandwidth, practicality of SPE's for game development, etc....lots of questions.

What does seem to be clear is that PS3 development costs are going to be at best high and often astronomical. I really don't see Sony having some wunderkind-middleware that is going to cut this back either. That probably won't hurt the big budget titles, the Grand Theft Autos and Madden Football games, but you have to wonder how a Katarmi Damarcy(sp?) would ever get made.

Re:oh really? (1)

Liam Slider (908600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470771)

Funny, considering that Sony and others have been saying this same stuff since back when the 360 was still in development...

The truth is simpler (-1, Troll)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470502)

Preliminary specs of PS3 proved that XBOX 360 is rather close to this.

Also "movie-quality games" depend mostly on the GPU, not CPU. Cell is the CPU, so maybe movie-quality hair phisics and accurate collision detection but graphics ain't really a part of this.

Cell sounded revolutionary few years ago, but with Intel prepping to offer 32-core (yep, 32 core..) processor in less than 2 years, which also means compatible with the tons of 86 apps out there, it just lost its magic.

Re:The truth is simpler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470538)

but with Intel prepping to offer 32-core (yep, 32 core..) processor in less than 2 years, which also means compatible with the tons of 86 apps out there,

Err, no they're not.

Re:The truth is simpler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470576)

with Intel prepping to offer 32-core (yep, 32 core..) processor in less than 2 years

Good lie! If you don't get a +5 informative for that then I may regain some of the faith I once had in people.

Really! Who links to member's only article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470504)

Someone throw us a bone (/the text of the article).

Emotion Engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470509)

I'm still waiting for my PS2 to show the real life emotion promised by Sony's emotion engine. Maybe mine's broken; still I'm sure the PS3 will be more than a warmed up PS2.

Movie Quality? (4, Insightful)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470510)

Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics.

Really? Just like the PS1/2 could do on the fly Toy Story quality graphics? Or did you just get around that by saying movie quality games, rather than games that look like movies, but still implied it?

I have no doubt the cell is going to be impressive, but we are quite along way away from an affordable processor than can replace a render farm (I believe thats what there refered as).

Speak on the CCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470526)

I am really looking forward to the cell processor. From the Specs the Cell can nicely used in scientific and media areas. But for Games there are some scrupulosity. Today we have nearly no clue how we can programm games so they used more than one Prozessor effectivly. We can see the Problem in the XBox360 where all the Games use only one of the three XBox-Cores. I wonder how the Programmers of the Playstation3 can use the seven useable "cores" of the Cellprozessor.

For all how cares there was a Talk about the Cellprozessor on the Chaos Communication Congress last month:
mms:// -28_-_22c3_-_Saal4_-_The_Cell_Processor_-_Computin g_of_Tomorrow_or_Yesterday/22c3_saal4_8.wmv

Re:Speak on the CCC (1)

Wdomburg (141264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470819)

Actually, the current cell is not particularly useful for scientific applications. They only achieved the speeds they're throwing around by using sloppy single percision floating point. Put the processor into IEEE compliant mode and it's a full order of magnitude slower.

Please log in to access this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470529)

"The page you requested is available FREE to members."

Fuck that! Quit posting articles from register-to-view sites. I'm sure the same articles are found elsewhere...

Roger That (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470547)

Here - Here!

On the Cell Processor from the source (5, Informative)

javaDragon (187973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470539)

More information about the Cell processor directly from the source : The Cell project at IBM Research []

Re:On the Cell Processor from the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470549)

What you mean IBM ? So how come we are only seeing the (usual) Sony bashing as comments on this article ?

PS3 not best example (5, Insightful)

Azreal (147961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470545)

I'd say almost everyone is in agreement that the Cell processor is a very powerful design, but I don't believe the PS3 will be the best example of what it can really do.
    Sifting through what I've read about the PS3, the Cell processor is bottlenecked by a few things including but not limited to memory bandwidth, and a fairly generic pc graphics solution from nvidia (by generic I mean, one of their standard pc products tweaked slightly for use on the PS3).
    The "movie quality" games that I'm assuming the article is referring to are the demos shown at places such as e3, which are nothing more than either pre-rendered movies or carefully programmed, high end pc demos (Epic demo with high end pc and 7800 sli config).
    I'm not trying to disparage the ps3, nvidia, or IBM. Frankly, I'm a fan of Nvidia and the Cell processor and I truly believe (drm jokes aside) the ps3 will be a solid console, but I think saying that the PS3 with Cell, " going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics" is misleading, ignorant and sensationlist journalism.

Re:PS3 not best example (1)

Bloater (12932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470883)

I expect "movie quality games" will refer to the pseudo AI processing used to determine the positioning and articulation of things like the hordes or orcs in the lord of the rings films, rather than the rendering quality (although, in a "never the same render twice" situation, I'm sure the next crop of consoles will have background scenes that look just like movies - but the foregrounds probably won't).

um? (3, Funny)

ikea5 (608732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470552)

movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics.

I think I've heard of this line couple year back, sometime before or around PS2's lunch date possiblly.

Re:um? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470587)

Lunch dates with your PS2? I think you have a lot more to worry about than Sony talk...

30 hour movies? (4, Insightful)

Excors (807434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470555)

Movies take several years to generate two hours of content. Games are often ten times that long, with a much smaller budget. How can they possibly be of comparable visual quality? and why do people try?

I would much rather have games that concentrate on art instead of graphics. (Rez [] and Darwinia [] come to mind as examples of visually impressive games with non-realistic styles. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work well in terms of sales...)

Darwinia is excellent (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470579)

I bought Darwinia using Steam (an unjustly slandered distribution platform IMHO) and well -- it's fantastic! I recommend it strongly. The gameplay does get a little repetitive after a while though -- I don't think there's very much in the way of replay value unfortunately.

The nice thing about the game is that it doesn't have a huge amount of art assets, which means that within 10 minutes of purchasing it was fully downloaded and ready to play. (Unlike Day of Defeat: Source, which took several hours).

Re:30 hour movies? (1)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470846)

while i agree that developers ignore artistic sensibility and go for 'realistic' graphics with a few notable exceptions, i have to disagree with your first point. (as a side note, is it just me or to games that try to look "real" just end up looking more fake because the technology just can't compete with reality by a longshot yet?)

Blockbuster games are now costing well upwards of 20 million dollars to produce (resident evil 4, metal gear solid series, square-enix titles, bioware titles), and i expect that number to rise substantially in the coming years. Furthermore, single-player game length is shortening considerably, and many high profile games are going down to 10 hours or so for the single player campaign. I am not opposed to this either, as devoting 20+ hours to a game is simply not feasible for me and i expect for many slashdotters with lives.

Furthermore, most games that are 20 hours or more tend to have repetitive gameplay and lots of optional and meaningless dialog at the expense of a tightly knit narrative or fleshed-out gameplay.

We will have to see what effect this shift has on smaller and independent developers. If it's anything like the movie biz, they will die out for a time and then experience something of a resurgence. In 2005, I thoroughly enjoyed at least 10 films; if I can enjoy that many games, I will be more than satisfied.

Re:30 hour movies? (2, Interesting)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470859)

There are middle ground games that don't opt for realism, but at the same time aren't quite as "artsy" as something like Rez. The important thing is to get something that matches your gameplay. Viewtiful Joe(sp?) is a decent example, although the "art" concept was pushed even a little bit much here.

I'm reluctant to bring up Nintendo and all their Mario games, because people like to pick on them for using their franchise so frequently, but I generally enjoy all the mario games, and they've definitely got a well established style, which is non-realistic, but not all about its look either. It's on a basic level just a cartoony world, but it's flexible and able to improve as technology allows. The Mario in Mario Tennis is basically the same as the Mario from Mario 64, but smoother, and slightly more detailed. Better graphics, but if you subbed in the old Mario 64 mario, the game would still be just as fun. And then if you look at something like Super Mario Strikers(newer soccer game), they've shifted the artwork a bit, tailored towards the more "violent" gameplay. They gave yoshi an attitude.

These are just the opinions of a mario sports games fanboy though, so feel free to ignore.

Why make movies into games!? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470560)

Who wants to develop games that are the quality of holywood movies...?

PS3 Un*x (3, Funny)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470565)

I guess we will be seeing Cell in servers at some point as well, though not as cheap as in a PS3.
Sony probably won't want anyone to run Linux on the PS3, lest geeks start cranking out PS3 server farms, but hopefully Sony will leave enough backdoors so can we can see the PS3 run Linux (or FreeBSD, or some beta OpenSolaris distro). Knoppix running on the PS3 just about removes the need for a home computer.

Hopefully Sony will create such a backdoor. I mean if they can screw up with a rootkit...

Re:PS3 Un*x (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470569)

Hmm, Maybe im not reading your post properly - but most indications are that linux will run on PS3 , in fact it will ship on the hard drive as standard.

Re:PS3 Un*x (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470571)

Yes because Sony is so anti linux :| Thats why they are probably installing linux standard on the PS3 hard drive. [] .

sounds like a cell out to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470572)

how can a proprietary, captive design ever hope to evolve as fast as ones fostered in a free (er) market?

besides, consoles are for kids

Just learned something new (0, Flamebait)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470574)

The PS3 is still going to have a GPU. This had me amazed as I thought the Cell itself was going to do the graphics as well. For the young ones, there was a time when your PC only had a single CPU that did all the hardwork and the video card was nothing more then a tiny piece of electronics that converted the digital image delivered by the cpu into an analog signal.

What the hell are they going to the 7 cores for? If the graphics are all going to be done by an external chip this leaves an awfull lot of power for doing the rest of the game. Super advanced and massive amounts of AI? Fear with a hundred soldiers? Sure sure you will still be limited to a dozen lights but who cares. It is the AI that has been sorely lacking in recent games.

Oh well, we will just have to see what Sony will deliver in the end. As for people commenting about Sony DRM rootkits. Only Windows users are affected. Amazing that you blame the guy shoving his dick up your ass, not the guy who strapped you down and spread your cheeks wide open for the last 20 years.

Re:Just learned something new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470603)

"Amazing that you blame the guy shoving his dick up your ass, not the guy who strapped you down and spread your cheeks wide open for the last 20 years."

Some of us like a good dick up our ass once in a while you know. In fact I think everyone needs a good assraping just to get some perspective.

Re:Just learned something new (2, Interesting)

jiushao (898575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470635)

What the hell are they going to the 7 cores for? If the graphics are all going to be done by an external chip this leaves an awfull lot of power for doing the rest of the game. Super advanced and massive amounts of AI? Fear with a hundred soldiers? Sure sure you will still be limited to a dozen lights but who cares. It is the AI that has been sorely lacking in recent games.

The Cell won't be terribly well suited for AI either, so you probably don't have much to look forward to. Game AI is typically notoriously branch-heavy and often tends to be mostly integer code (seeing how it is mostly search problems and at worst a neural net or two, no heavy stuff like machine vision since all information is already available). Which the Cell is more or less worthless for.

It annoys me greatly that the Cell is getting the hype it does, not only it is very specialized and as such hard to use, it is not even very innovative. One of the very first proper vector computers, the ILLIAC IV [] , was based on pretty much exactly the same approach. The Cell would at any rate be absolutely horrible as a general computing chip.

Re:Just learned something new (1)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470894)

"Game AI is typically notoriously branch-heavy and often tends to be mostly integer code"

I don't agree with this. I believe it will still be faster because each core has it's own pipeline. So yes it is more costly to flush the pipeline, but you will have 7 cores working on those multiple AI opponents as opposed to one. Each with it's own pipeline, and each flushing it as needed. Now do we know how wide and long that pipeline is? That will also have significant performance gains or losses.

Now do I believe we will see movie quality games? Well I saw the demo of GT5 and MGS4 and they were both impressive, and if those are the real games then I would say that the PS3 is very close. Time will tell.

What IS movie quality? (3, Interesting)

adyus (678739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470577)

Motion pictures made in the 1930s are also, technically, "movie quality", seeing as they're, well, movies....

What exactly does the reporter (and Sony) mean by that statement?

(Oh, yeah, I forgot: "well if they'll be the same quality as some of the movies Hollywood pumps out recently, I'm not buying it...")

Re:What IS movie quality? (1)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470675)

I believe they may be talking about CG movies when they talk about movie quality video games. Whenever I hear it used they seem to imply that eventually we'll be able to play a computer game that is able to render graphics as good as say Shrek 2 in real time at playable speeds.

Re:What IS movie quality? (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470874)

Well, I seem to recall that either the PS2 or the Xbox (or was it an nVidia graphics card) was supposed to be able to deliver 'Toy Story' quality graphics, so it only makes sense that the unfulfilled promises this time around are updated to a more recent movie.

Although possibly it's just that they looked at Toy Story and thought "Wow, the animation is really good. We can't match that. I know, let's aim much lower. Aha, the Shrek series! I think can we do animation that 'good', no bother!" :-)

1930s movies were extraordinary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470759)

Don't be fooled by the prints you see of early pictures. The original negatives used for movies in the 1930s were high-resolution monochrome film. The prints you see of them today are marred by age, repeated copying and sometimes a mismatched frame-rate.

The restored print of Fritz Lang's Metropolis is exquisite. The resolution is far beyond anything a playstation will generate, and that's after reconstruction. The original 1927 negative would have been even better.

Metropolis frame []

This is a low-resolution capture, but you can see how detailed and high-contrast the frames were. The vignetting around the edges is the major picture issue.

Of course, the effects in those early movies weren't often brilliant, but on a console effects are easy. It's the subtle shading and curves that challenge a playstation.

Playstation 3 supercomputer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470580)

Sony says the Playstation 3 is going to be positioned as a supercomputer. The hard drive may come preloaded with linux.

Actually, if you google, you find many references to scientific computation on the Playstation 2. It seems to me that IBM is in a good position to move their chip past the console market. I wonder why Apple didn't pick up on it rather than Intel.

So how hard is it to program for Cell? (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470581)

Going from coding for single-cored CPUs to CPUs with up to 9 cores that perform different functions can't be easy. I don't think Gabe Newell seemed enthusiastic [] about doing it, either.

You're right, it's a major headache (2, Informative)

sunbeam60 (653344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470673)

Multicore CPUs, and multiprocessor systems, are only going to be as fast as the software can make them. Concurrency is a major focus of software programming research at the moment.

For some more info, check out:
The Free Lunch is Over [] , the article that sparked the discussion.
A talk Herb Sutter did on the Concur project, a research project into abstracting concurrency [] , sorry IE only but it's worth it

Re:So how hard is it to program for Cell? (3, Informative)

skeptictank (841287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470793)

Some comments on the first link:

Writing concurrent software isn't that much more difficult than writing single threaded software, as long as you do a good job of partitioning the system into seperate control loops early on. The main difference will be a period of tweaking and adjusting the interplay of the different threads of execution in the system towards the end of development. It's not uncommon for this last stage to take more time than writing the code initially. A tactic that will help a lot is to build an event log into the software from the beginning that can be used to record when each thread finishes doing some processing task. The later version of the freescale 7400 series processor have many features for just this purpose, I would think the ibm 7400 core used in the cell would have the same features, but I am not sure.

A good language to look at for how concurrency can be supported is Ada. There is a lot of good stuff in Ada and a lot of bad stuff in Ada, but the designers did a very good job on the concurrency model.

First Cell product already shipping (4, Informative)

Cybro (880749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470608)

Since the first cell product is already shipping. [] we should be able to benchmark the processor pretty soon and find out if it is all a hype or this really is the second coming :-)

I don't hate the NYT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470609)

I hate registering to read newsstories.

Please make it clear so that I avoid even reading the comments on what I won't read.

Put how many ads you want in Slashdot, use even those obnoxious pull down ads, but no registration, please.

Registration is like when you find a stone while munching your favourite food.

Dishonest? (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470612)

I'm not really sure but I think the Cell chip is mostly the work of Sony (at least the basic idea).

The whole design screams "Emotion Engine 2". Having a central core with 8 (7) attached vector units that do most of the work is the next logical (well, or stupid, coding for the VUs on a PS2 was a PITA) step after the two units on the EE.

Untrue (1)

NameIsDavid (945872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470810)

Sony's role here was funding and coming to IBM with a set of specs that they wanted to see fulfilled. The chip innovations themselves are the work of a design team in Austin combined with a fabrication team in East Fishkill, NY. While Sony may have its own way of marketing the chip's capabilities, IBM (and Toshiba, which also contributed engineers and funding because they'd like to use the chip, too) also has its own plans for the chip, as they regard it as extremely capable when properly programmed. I've personally seen real-time demos on a development system and it's quite impressive.

Re:Untrue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470848)

No you are wrong. If you search the USPTO patent database you can find many technical contributions Sony engineers put into Cell.

No, no it won't. Example: King Kong (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470637)

King Kong took how many scores of computers to render? There's no chance the cell processor will be able to do what King Kong looks like in real-time for gameplay, sorry Sony.

And now, full-on SlashMarketing (0, Flamebait)

Laptop Dancer (572075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470642)

How did this article make it to the front page? Slow news day? Direct payment from the technical marketing folks at IBM? I'm not trying to be a troll, but we've had plenty of /. articles on the cell, game consoles and content developers, but this.. wow. No new content, just pure hype for IBM. Why not just import directly from the cell team bogging sites at IBM?

While we're at it, did you know that Windows Vista [] brings clarity to your world, so you can more safely and easily accomplish everyday tasks and instantly find what you want on your PC? You can now explore entertainment, such as TV and music, on your Windows Vista-based PC like never before. And with Windows Vista, you'll more conveniently stay connected to the people who are important to you, from home or while on the go.

But will it... (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470643)

1. Will it contain a RootKit designed to "expose" my TV to illegal channels?
2. Will it run Linux?
3. Will it have WiFi?

4. in Soviet fuck, it's 3.36 AM, can't seem to think of anything.

Re:But will it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470714)

in Soviet Russia cell processors radicallize you

Waaaait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470646)

Movie-quality games? Oh, I see...

"Bloodrayne 2 Exclusively for PS3

Uwe Boll Games is proud to bring you the latest and greatest in video games..."

Movie quality games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470655)

Apparently the ps3 [] is worse than the 360.

IEEE predicts Cell as a winner (3, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470661)

The IEEE Spectrum magazine (surely a better source for Slashdot readers) predicts that Cell will be a winner [] in the multimedia space, noting that already its going into TVs made by Toshiba.

They also mention Linux on page 2.

Easy one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470680)

"Movie quality games" = "games and movies run at same resolutions"

built for linux (1)

PurpleWizard (643191) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470710)

This story just gave me the notion of how great it would feel for someone to come along and build a machine for Linux.

I hate when websites and magazine lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470738)

Sony stated that they had to add a gpu because the cell chip couldnt handle the graphics . So all this pure crud.

UGhh the 360 is just as good.

The Cell Chip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14470778)

      I'm a student on a game programming course, and we were recently given a lecture by one of the Sony developer relations people about the Cell processor. To be honest I'd expected a huge amount of irrelevant marketing chat, but they kept everything quite low-level and hardware based - and other than giving lots of exciting numbers which will probably turn out to only happen in a good light with a following wind, it was more or less a tutorial on how the chip was put together.

I have to say I'm very excited by the Cell - but here's the problem - I sort of think they might have done a PS2 all over again. Technically, the PS2 is very powerful - when you look at the design of the hardware it's tempting to think it magnificent, but trying to extract any of that power will leave you dead in a pool of tears, your typing fingers reduced to bloody stumps.

At first, the Cell doesn't seem so bad - the eight vector unit equivalents can be programmed in C/C++, one PowerPC(ish) on each Cell controls the task allocation etc. But add in the various complications of the way they put the memory together, and the fact that their are four cells - that's a total of 32 vector units to try and coordinate and I start to worry.

We were frequently told, "We see middleware becoming a huge industry on the PS3" and "This new platform should give rise to many new and powerful programming models" - to me this means, "It's really, really powerful, but we've absolutely no idea how to get data either in or out!". I suppose if I'm at all hopeful for it, it's in the field of massive game worlds, where there's probably now enough power kicking about to add a little procedural salt to every tree in the forest, etc (well, every other, perhaps). - I think the idea of procedural salting of artist generated geometry will probably take off a bit once the cell arrives.

Re:The Cell Chip (2, Informative)

andr0meda (167375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470830)

As I understood it, the Cell comes with a VM on top, which will coordinate the actual work done on all pipes. The VM is supposed to use intelligent allocation algo's to schedule compiled code on each Cell. the code can of course be compiled using specific platform compilers for the ps3, just like they did for the ps2. So in fact what is said about the ps3 is true. It's going to be hell to program for it *directly* (where most of the power can be found) but I wouldn`t say it`s going to be impossible for sony to build a line-up of titles at the start.

If there's anybody who has more details about Cell programming, I`m interested! ;)

Oh please (1)

mrjatsun (543322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470779)

Marketing at it's best. Sounds like the hype surrounding itanium.

I'll believe it when I can play one in my hands. If they even come close to the hype, how much more expensive is it to procude a game that looks like a movie. How many game companies will have the talent and money to do this. How many of these games will actually have good gameplay???

You heard it here first, cell-tanic. It's what killed the playstation. :-)

P.S. I don't own a new xbox either. I'll stick my my old console until there are some compelling games to play then decide what to buy... Unfortunately, I'm thinking it's not going to be playstation 3 :-(

Portability (1)

tehmorph (844326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470786)

Is it just me, or are games developers more likely to stick to the tried-and-tested x86/x86_64 arch for their development? New arch, new problems.

Re:Portability (1)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470887)

Sony has a lot of weight to throw around. If it is indeed the case that developers will not like the architecture, sony will offer enough incentives to sign exclusivity contracts. Also, if big developers stay away from ps3, it will give more incentive for smaller ones to make games for it, especially given the anticipated market share it will command. Microsoft spent a helluva lot of resources buying and courting developers, and was in many respects successful. The same principles applied, except this time instead of a huge marketshare where even a small game can have a niche audience and still be profitable, there was a small marketshare but initially low competition from other development houses.

Any vendors planning a PC video card? (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470836)

It would certainly proliferate the technology and get it into the hands of people that can figure out how to use it. They could stick an entry level GPU on the thing to get directx and opengl independently of the cell and which would free up the cell as a co-processor for graphics or specialized computing but still keep it labeled a cell graphics card.

i guess (-1, Redundant)

akhomerun (893103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470840)

i guess this is why one core in intel's new laptop chips are twice as fast as IBM's current chips at the same clock speed. And, you know, since IBM had trouble supplying Apple's 3% marketshare PC market, they are going to have a great time supplying enough chips to go into the PS3, the successor to the console that took 70% of the home console marketshare and sold, I dunno, what is it, 40-50 million units? I honestly don't remember, but I'm pretty sure total PS sales including the PSOne have surpassed 100 million.

I don't see how IBM can just pull Cell technology out of its ass and expect us to believe that the PS3 is going to make a huge difference in graphics compared to the Xbox 360. Their chips are made by the same company, and anyone who believes this PR hype should seriously consider looking up because there's gullible written on the ceiling.

Not only that, but the only way you'll see a difference is if you are using the most expensive 1080p television availible. If you own an Xbox 360 with a standard definition TV, you already know that it looks like Xbox 1.5.

PS3 = PS2? (1)

sad_ (7868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14470843)

Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality game

oooh, but i thought the PS2 did that already?
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