Personal thoughts…

Tech, Hockey, and random thoughts…

Microsoft can’t afford to wait for Sony

WindowsNow by Robert McLaws has posited the opinion that Microsoft should wait for Sony to cut prices before following- to quote

 Everyone knows that Sony is going to have to eat more money on the PS3 and sell it for less before it gains traction.

But at the same time, there is a stigma around cutting prices on any product, let alone consoles. It usually angers the early adopters, and devalues the existing consoles on the market. But the PS3 will have to cut the price to survive; it has no choice but to face these consequences. But the consoles that follow suit to stay competitive don’t usually suffer the same stigma.

So it’s no wonder that the Xbox 360 hasn’t seen a price cut yet. Why cut the price first and be the “bad guy” to early adopters, when they can wait until after the overpriced PS3 corrects course, and then use the reasoning “we had to stay competitive” as justification? If I were in charge, that’s what I would do.”

My point of view-

It looks to me like Microsoft needs a price cut themselves, while not quite in the desperate situation Sony is the XBox360 definitely isn’t looking like a marketleader. The sales are pretty steady the last few months, whereas the PS3’s sales have been slowly dropping on a weekly basis since launch. But holding steady isn’t good enough… it’s not going to get them the installed base they’ve been touting and their still seeing sales that are slightly less that what the Wii’s been getting for awhile now.
Without a price drop I can’t see the situation improving, especially since the Wii is selling like crazy with almost no 3rd party developer support… and less then stellar reviews for most of the software available. What happens when 3rd parties adopt the Wii in mass as they surely will if it continues to sell at it’s current pace… which shows not the faintest signs of slowing.

Beating Sony isn’t good enough if it still eaves them a clear cut second fiddle far behind the leader. If I’m Microsoft I cut prices ahead of Sony, make Sony look like the follower that’s desperately cutting prices to maintain what little semblance of competition they currently offer.
Further push the perception that Sony is a follower and Microsoft a marketleader that defines the path that market follows.
I’m taking the initiative now.
Looking like the “bad guy” to early adopters isn’t exactly what I’d perceive as a huge penalty. The early adopters know price will drop over time, and they knew they were paying a premium to get the latest and greatest at launch. They can do precious little to strike back at Microsoft… stop buying 360 games? That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The hard core gamers that are the early adopters are well aware a price cut would ultimately become a reality, and they knew they’d pay the price premium to play the XBox360 games ahead of those that waited.

Microsoft needs to take the initiative and take control of the situation now. Sitting back and gollowing Sony yields them nothing. The status quo isn’t good enough if all it gains them is watching the Xbox360 yield to the Will and become games second choice.

They had that with the XBox trailing the PS2. Microsoft has bet tons of money with little in the way of profits in return on the console market. Beating Sony won’t see them getting the profits they want. Becoming the market leader will do that.
Sony isn’t much of a threat right now, the PS3’s quite possibly too far behind already to win this generation. Microsoft isn’t.
Nintendo is the company eating up the profits, and it’s Nintendo they need to beat if they want to make the XBox360 a profitable venture and recoup all the expenses put into it and it’s predecessor.

Casually sitting back and following Sony’s lead only allows Nintendo greater momentum. Nintendo’s spent a long time being irrelevant as far as the major competition is concerned. I don’t think Microsoft is so foolish to ignore the present market realities however and forget Nintendo.

June 21, 2007 Posted by | Console Examination, Tech Industry | Leave a comment

Sony… again

And the latest in Sony’s weekly effors to aggravate and infuriate any and every customer they have ever had or may ever have in the future….

Sony has admitted that the European version of its PlayStation 3 console will not play as many old PlayStation 2 games as the versions already launched in the US and Japan.
Sony has stated that the European systems will utilize “a new hardware specification,” and Sony won’t “concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility.” Rather, they are “increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3, truly taking advantage of this exciting technology.”

In other words Sony is looking to decrease the production cost of the Playstation 3, and they have opted to replace dedicated hardware with software that will replace its functionality. The hardware had been providing full backwards compatibility of PS2 games, but Sony makes it clear that the new configuration will not offer the same level of support. “Certain PlayStation 2 format software titles may not perform properly on this system,” the statement reads.

Naturally Sony won’t be passing on the decreased cost of manufacture to the European purchasers who will still pay the same price as North America and Asian buyers. In what’s become typical Sony fashion their parroting this as a terrific example of how much they love the European market and that this was in high demand from customers. Bizarre, but hey, Sony claimed for months that European’s were very pleased that Sony had delayed the launch of the console in Europe. Amusing, and quite par for the course from them.

March 3, 2007 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment

Microsoft extends Xbox 360 warranty to one year

Microsoft has extended the warranty on Xbox 360 consoles from 90 days to a full year .

It’s parroted by PR as major news and a wonderful deal for everyone, and it seems most people look upon it similarly. Maybe I’m just dense but I don’t see why… it’s always struck me as ludicrous and an absolute rip off that a console system (any console) could only come with a 90 day warranty. Frankly even 1 year seems awfully stingy to me.

Given how notoriously unreliable consoles have been at release for the past several years I’m betting an awfully massive number of people have been screwed over my the horrible support policies that seem to be the norm in the console industry, be it Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft.

December 22, 2006 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment

Sony scaling issue and games without sound

And the leatest in Sony’s contuing efforts to make the PS3 the butt of everyone’s jokes… I’ve taken a break from watching their comedic attempts to market the PS3 just because their screwups were starting to come on an almost daily basis.

May as well throw out another one though….

We’ve known for the pastweek or so that Sony conveinetly forgot to actually do much testing on HDTV’s and the PS3 has some pretty severe issues when it comes to scaling movies and games. For those that aren’t already well aware basically if you don’t have a television that can do both 720p AND 1080p, you’re going to lose picture quality in either games or Blu-ray movies. So the problem pretty much effects…. everyone, well unless your one of the dozen or so people that have a 1080P capable television.

Apparently Sony exists in a mythical land wherein 1080P content actually exists, and more then .00000000001% of HDTV owners own a set capable of more then 720P and/or 1080i. Iniitially Sony claimed it would be a simple firmware fix for owners but they’ve now backed off on that. The official line is now that they are “looking into the issue and haven’t stated any actions that will be taken regarding it.”

In plain english I’ll take it that means nobody will be seeing any solutions anytime in the near future and current PS3 owners are likely to remain screwed. The whole “we’re beta testing Sony’s hardware” crowd is about to get even more to complain about. Of course since Sony is falling well short of their already miniscule and continually decreasing number of PS3’s they plan to ship this year that may not matter all that much.

Who knew upscaling video was such an exotic technology?  🙂

On the plus side… one of Sony’s other recent issues is at least partially resolved. Consumers were understandably perturbed when they found out Sony’s vaunted backwards compatibility with PS1/2 didn’t include actually having sound on those games. The latest frimware update for the PS3 apparently remedies that for most games though there are still a 100 or so games that will remain silent when played on the PS3.

November 25, 2006 Posted by | Console Examination | 1 Comment

Sony: Xbox 360 costs $698

Item #5000 on Sony’s list of bizarre comments about the PS and their competitors has now been entered. Not content simply to inform everyone that European customers are “thruled and pleased” that Sony delayed the consoles release over there, and that the PS3 is ridiculously underpriced…. apparently they’ve also decided to inform us that the XBox 350 now costs $700.

Their twisted logic:
They claims the $299 Xbox 360 Core System “requires users to buy” a $100 20GB hard drive, a $199 HD DVD drive, a $50 wireless controller, and a $50 Xbox Live subscription in order to play games, obviously none of this is true… but accuracy isn’t a big thing over there.

Naturally, Sony conveniently ignores the fact that the $399 Xbox 360 “Premium” system includes the hard drive, wireless controller, and Xbox Live subscription. If users wish to add the entirely-optional HD DVD drive, the bundle’s price rises to $598—still $100 below Sony’s quoted figure.
They also neglect to mention any of the extras that come with the XBox 360 that the PS3 lacks. Apparently only Sony’s extras count.

I love Sony…. their becoming as hilariously inventive as Apple is in their marketing efforts.
Now all we need is for Jerry Sanders to come out of etirement and become AMD’s CEO again and we’ll have a lovely threesome. Sanders isn’t as bizarre in marketing…. but he was definitely always a colorful, “Hollywood’esque” guy and ever quoteable.
I’ve always been particularly fond of the “Real men have FABs.” quotation.

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment

Sony PS3-More bad news

The news just gets worse and worse for Sony…. after their disasterous showing at E3 2006 they’ve since:
Revealed the $500 PS3 will not feature an HDMI port, and so will not be able to utilize the Blu-Rasy drive to watch movies in HD.
Lowered specifications on the CPU
Lowered specifications on the GPU
Revealed yields for functional Cell processors with 6 or more cores functional are at appx 10%
Removed HDMI cables from the package, so users cannot play movies or games in HD out of the box.
Cut initial availablity from 4Million consoles worldwide at alunch to 2Million.
Delayed European launch from November 06 to March 07.
Further cut initial availability of consoles from 2Million to 500,000 at launch. (100,000 in Japan, 400,000 in North America).

The PS3 has just been a complete and unmitigated disaster area with problem after problem ever since E3 when it was bad enough after consumer reaction to the console was extremely poor relative to their chief competitor Microsoft (and to a lesser extent Nintendo).

Then they just have to irritate their entire core fanbase with such stupid comments like the PS3 would be a bargain and extremely underpriced at $1500… will set you up for revolutionary gaming for the next decade etc.

Right now I really think Sony just needs to shut up, hide and get the console out ASAP in as large a volume as possible.
When even their dedicated fan base have begun cracking jokes about them you know it’s getting desperate.

September 6, 2006 Posted by | Console Examination | 1 Comment

A holding action-the real target is the PS4/Xbox3.

The more I think about it, the more I come to believe that for all the hype of the next generation of consoles (Or at least the Xbox360/PS3) that they in reality are intended as little more then a holding action.
I've discussed this before in my own brief examination of the consoles, but significantly more light on the processors has come to light since then along with developers comments, and some solid architectural overviews.

Without deliberating in depth, as I've covered the respective processors in the past it's clear that essentailly their massively oparallel processors capable of executing on many threads simultaeously and relatively highly clocked. Both processors exhibit remarkably poor branch prediction algorithyms, and both are purely in-order processors with no capability of OOE execution of instructions.

The PS3 (Cell Processor) stands out specifically in this respect. A cut down PPC core working with 7 SPE's (Synergistic Processing Elements). The PPE we know all abut, it's essentially a higher clocked cut down PPC G5 dirivative. The SPE's aren't so well understood as yet. Heavily pipelined, no branch predictor and no dedicated cache with an in-order execution effectively insures that the SPE's are useless for any conventional single threaded code and indeed most other code isn't appropriate for SPE acceleration
High level game logic, and AI are complete non-starters, those will have to rely entirely on the PPC Core.
Despite Sony's indications that the SPE's will be heavily utilized for physics using the NovodeX SDK, I'm firmly of the opinion that phsyics is definitely not even remotely a viable option to be calculated on the SPE's.
Physics is typically very branch heavy, and at least in current games the majority of physics execution is derived from calculation collision detection via a Binary Search Partitioning (BSP) tree. In order to follow through the BSP tree in order to test for a collision between some object and a polygon you have to perform a lot of comparisons. You first search the tree to find the polygon you want to test for a collision against. Then you have to perform a number of checks to see whether a collision has occurred between the object you’re comparing and the polygon itself. This process involves a lot of conditional branching, code which likes to be run on a high performance OoO core with a very good branch predictor.
Which is exactly what the SPE's are not.

Every mispredicted branch will have be forced to flush the entire pipeline, and with no branch prediction that will happen an awful lot, and phsyics code is branch heavy which worsens the scenario. Flushing the pipelines is doubly harsh given it's highly pipelines nature in order to achieve it's high clockspeeds. In effect, with every mispredicted branch you'll be tying up the pipelines with no execution being done all tpo often.
Now physics code is particularly parallizable, and with 7 SPE's that will to a great extent offset the performance penalty over each SPE. Still, that will largely leave the SPE's dedicated to physics which would put all the rest of the load on the dedicated PPC core…. which by itself isn't more then 15-20% faster then the PS2's "Emotion Engine" on it's own.
My best bet?
Sound processing will thrive on the SPE's given their rather specialized architecture aimed at streaming tasks, as would displaying pre-recorded FMV.

Now the XBox 360 isn't quite as massiveky threaded, but still more heavily so then we're accustomed to on the PC (and prior consoles have been purely single-threaded. The Xbox360 effectively uses 3 cut down PPC cores, obviously that's putting it in very simplistic terms but I've covered the XBox360 "Xenon" processor in the past so there's no reason to re-iterate things. The core itself is a very narrow 2-issue in-order execution core, featuring a 64KB L1 cache (32K instruction/32K data) and either a 1MB L2 cache. Supporting SMT, the core can execute two threads simultaneously similar to a Hyper Threading enabled Pentium 4.
Now this is genius if your looking after pure peak floating point output, not altogether useful but it makes a damn nice marketing figure on Microsoft has played it for all it's worth trumpeting the figure of 1 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS) to everyone. Alas real world code never even remotely approaches peak theoretical rates even under best case scenarios.
The very narrow 2-issue in-order core also happens to be very deeply pipelined, apparently with a branch predictor that’s not exactly… strong. Real world code, you'll probably see the Xenon executing at roughly twice the performance of the XBox's Celeron/Pentium 3 733Mhz hybrid.
This is definitely not a pleasent thing for the lifetime of the XBox360, but heavily multithreaded game engines are the future, that future won't really take form for another 3 – 5 years though. Even Microsoft has readily admitted that all developers are focusing on having, at most, one or two threads of execution for the game engine itself, not the six threads that the Xbox 360 was designed for.
Even when games become more aggressive with their multithreading, targeting 2 – 4 threads, most of the heavily perforance constrained work will still be done in a single thread.

What does this all mean?
The Xenon and Cell will typically only be 50-100% faster then the processors in their predecessor consoles. Such performance has long since been surpassed on desktop PC's by even the lowest end processors. Now in recent weeks this has become obvious with the deluge of game developers speaking out about how disappointed they are in the Xbox360/SP3's processors.
So why did Sony and Microsoft go this route instead of utilizing cheaper, faster desktop PC processors?
For Sony, it doesn't take much to see that the Cell processor is quite similar to the Emotion Engine in the PlayStation 2, at least conceptually. Sony clearly has an idea of what direction they would like to go in, and it doesn't happen to be one that's aligned with much of the rest of the industry. Sony's past successes have really come, not because of the hardware, but because of the developers and their PSX/PS2 exclusive titles. A single hot title can ship millions of consoles, and Sony has had many more of those exclusive titles than Microsoft had with the first Xbox. Regardless of the hardware platform, a game developer won't turn down working with the PS2 – the install base is just that attractive. So for Sony, the Cell processor may be strange and even undesirable for game developers, but the developers will come regardless.

Microsoft is a bit mroe interesting. With the original XBox they listened very closely to the wants and desires of game developers (Outside of cutting out 64MB of system DRAM just before launch, as they got a ton of flack from developers for that and it's come back to haunt them long-term). This time around, despite what has been said publicly, the Xbox 360's CPU architecture wasn't what game developers had asked for. They wanted a multi-core CPU, but not such a significant step back in single threaded performance. When AMD and Intel moved to multi-core designs, they did so at the expense of a few hundred MHz in clock speed, not by taking a step back in architecture.

I suspect that a big part of Microsoft's decision to go with the Xenon core was because of its extremely small size. A smaller die means lower system costs, and with Microsoft launching the cheapest Xbox 360 at $299 the Xenon CPU will be a big reason why that was made possible.
Granted it is a bit more expensive short term, but not by much and the very small die will ensure it becomes much cheaper as process technology improves and MS eventually takes advantage of that. Microsoft bought the IP{ from IBM and are fabbing their own Xenon processors (Through TSMC).

A small die also equates to less heat, and helps to keep the overall platform relatively small. Both two oof Microsoft's biggest goals with the XBox360.
Another contributing factor may be the fact that Microsoft wanted to own the IP of the silicon that went into the Xbox 360. We seriously doubt that either AMD or Intel would be willing to grant them the right to make Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 CPUs, so it may have been that IBM was the only partner willing to work with Microsoft's terms and only with this one specific core.

In the end, during the lifetime of the XBox360, and PS3 the processing performance will be a significant hindrance. Outdated at launch they'll only fall progressively further behind.
Both consoles do however posess GPU's that are more advanced compared to the current state of the art then their predecessors did.
From all appearances the XBox360/PS3 seem to be best suited to improve sigificantly on the visuals of the games compared to their predecessors and only offer a very incremental benefit in terms of AI, flexibility, phsyics etc.
It's a holding action.
It'll accustom developers to working with mulitple threads to get the best performance (As they will absolutely have to if they want to get any sort of decent processing performance out of these consoles), which will prepare them for the next generation of console processors by which time multihtreaded code will be in the makority and multiple cores won't have to be so heavily neutered as they do now to fit in a reasonable die space at a decent price. All of which means developers for the next generation consoles with be ready to go immediately with precious little time spent analyzing the consoles, and developing new code practices and new algorithyms.
Which will all but ensure that the next generation of consoles will reach their peak far sooner then their predecessors, which will help to ensure many more high quality games at a cheaper cost then ever before.

In the end, it's the GPU's that will be the saving grace and allow the PS3/XBox360 to impress people. And make no mistake the performance of these GPU's will be very good, perhaps only slightly behind PC GPU's that will be launching close to mid 2006.

Take it to the bank, this generation is intended to do one think really well. Great visuals. Everything else won't see much improvement over what we have right now.
If your looking for great physics, longer gameplay, more depth, or intelligent AI… your only going to see incremental improvements over what we have now. And indeed, in the first few years of development those areas may even be weaker then what we're accustomed to before developers have learned the intricacies of the Xenon, Cell processor.
The next generation is when it all really comes together, and may well be far more impressive for it's time then any geneation of consoles before.

On a side note- For someone that has no interest in consoles I spent a great deal of time examining them and the market. I suppose that's merely due to my interest in microarchitectures be it processors or otherwise, but it's ironic.

August 23, 2005 Posted by | Console Examination | 1 Comment

Console Examination: The replies…

To everyone that emailed me about the spelling/grammar in my Console Examination blogs:

Yes, I'm aware the grammar and spelling in my Console Examination 1/2 blogs weren't exactly very good.
I'll blame that on those pieces being written on the spur of the moment after studying the consoles revealed specifications and coming to what conclusions I could based on what we know.

On the plus side, I didn't get any real technical criticisms which was good and the majority seemed to think highly of them 🙂
(besides, it's the first revelation that more then 2 or 3 people are reading this blog, which is nice)

On a side note- evidently I'm not the only one disgusted by GameSpot/IGN's "technical analysis" of the XBox360/PS3.
A nice example of why game sites should NOT attempt to be hardware sites as well.

I can't say as I care much for IGN, but I think very highly of GameSpot. They have some exceptional writers, but game reviewers shouldn't be trying to delve into the hardware if they can do little more then parrot Microsoft and Sony's PR line.I'm all for and applaud their efforts to provide their audience with a serious look at the hardware capabilities, but if they clearly don't have enough knowledge to do any more then regurgitate what Microsoft and Sony's PR claims then they shouldn't parrot their articles as the "final word".

Granted, their employed writing about video games… obviously I'm not.
Still, I'd like to think I'm at least reasonably knowledgeable and I've had a few articles published online and in (a) magazine so for the average laymen I presumably know something at least.

For what amounts to little more then a broad overview, without any real technical depth I'd argue it's a whole lot more informative for most then what IGN/GameSpot's professionals managed.

May 19, 2005 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment

Console examination #2

I've already taken a look at the Cell vs XBox 360 PPC combo, so I figure it's time to examine the graphics side of things.

First the wrapup: The PS3's Cell should be a decent amount more powerful on paper, but it will be incredibly difficult to program for (Though the XBox 360 isn't exactly easy to program for itself).
I suspect the PS3's performance advantages will take a much longer time to come to fruition then the XBox's advantages over the PS2, and it's possible though unlikely the Cell will never be sufficiently adopted enough to truly take full advantage of it's power.

On the whole I'd be looking at the XBox 360's processor to comparable to an Athlon64 X2 4200+ (2X 2.2GHz/512KB Athlon64), on paper at least the Cell should offer greater performance then the Athlon64 X2 4800+ (2x 2.4GHz/1MB Athlon64) though programmer difficulties will slightly nullify that.

Compared to X86 desktop processors we should see high end desktop processors in the Athlon64 X2 available before the Xbox360's launch that can match the respective consoles processors.

As a side note- the Cell processor would with only one truly general purpose processing core will be blown away by the XBox 360 and modern X86 processors on general purpose code but that doesn't really matter on a console.

Now onto the GPU's:
XBox360: Based off the R600 with unified Pixel/Vertex shaders, and 12 pipelines with 4 ALU's per/pipe @ 500MHz it should offer shader performance a decent margin above that of the X850XT PE.
Yet with only 8 Raster Ops (ROPS) it's pixel throughput is only very marginally better then current mainstream PC graphics cards and well below the X850XT PE. The GF 6600GT in fact, can offer stencil fillrate comparable to the XBox GPU, and nVidia's high end cards nearly twice as powerful in that respect.

PS3: nVidia RSX, based on the G70 core.
It would appear then the nVidia RSX is similar to two GF6800Ultra's in SLI in many respects.
Based on the currently available data on performance specifications/300M transistors on an 8layer 90nm process/550MHz core clockspeed I'd say it's most likely that the RSX has 24 pixel rendering pipelines. The number of RasterOps is hard to guess at, but I'm leaning towards saying that the RasterOps are not decoupled from the pixel pipelines.
if the above is accurate the PS3's GPU should offer vastly more pixel/texture fillrate then the XBox360's graphics core. Unlike the Xbox360, the PS3's GPU still uses dedicated pixel/vertex shaders.
It would seem that the RSX should offer slightly more geometry throughput then the regular GeForce 6800 per clock/pipe. On the whole your probably looking at shader performance somewhere around 20% greater then that of a pair of GeForce 6800Ultra's in SLI.

Comparison:
The pixel/texel fillrate advantages of the PS3 should be partially mitigated by the XBox360's 10MB (512bit memory controller) EDRAM that could be used as a cache for the graphics processor. The Xbox360's graphics can access the 512MB of system memory via UMA (Unified Memory Architecture) with a bandwidth of 22.4GB/s.
The PS3's graphics core has 256MB of dedicated memory and can render directly to the 256MB of system memory(25.6GB/s bandwidth) in a similar fashion to nVidia's TurboCache that we've seen on their desktop GeForce 6200TC graphics cards.

On the whole it would seem the PS3 should offer a solid advantage in terms of pixel/texel output at the 480i/720P resolutions I suspect will be the norm for next gen consoles, but I'd suggest the XBox 360 should offer comparable shader/geometry performance.

On the whole, I'd look towards the XBox360's graphics processor to offer performance similar to a pair of 6800Ultra's in SLI while the PS3's graphics processor should be beyond that by a small margin.

Compared to PC graphics cards I'd say we should see high end graphics cards comparable to the PS3's GPU at roughly the same time the XBox360 launches. Upper midrange graphics cards should marginally less then that level of performance a few months after the PS3 launches at which time high end PC graphics cards should be a fair margin beyond it.

May 17, 2005 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment

Console examination #1

The Xbox360 is an odd dichotomy between technically impressive and underwhelming.

3x PowerPC cores at 3.2GHz, each with SMT ensures it's a heavily threaded architecture.
But each core is a heavily cut down version of the G5 with all 3 cores are not capable of OOE (Out of Order execution), and are only dual issue it's IPC isn't going to be very good at all. The G5 in comparison is a 5-way OOO (4 instructions + 1 branch more specifically), peaking currently at 2x 2.7GHz.
Microsoft isn't going to openly state that however, but a little judicious examination of the specifications, and IBM's comments reveals much.

The graphics processor carries is similar…. based off the R600 with unified Pixel/Vertex shaders, and 12 pipelines with 4 ALU's per/pipe @ 500MHz it should offer shader performance a decent margin above that of the X850XT PE.
Yet with only 8 Raster Ops (ROPS) it's pixel throughput is only very marginally better then current mainstream PC graphics cards and well below the X850XT PE. The GF 6600GT in fact, can offer stencil fillrate comparable to the XBox GPU, and nVidia's high end cards nearly twice as powerful in that respect.
With Microsoft pushing High Definition TV's so heavily it seems counterproductive to design the graphics core for ~4000 MP/s fill rate.

I'm betting that the HiDef angle is primarily marketing, and the actual games while HiDef capable probably won't be much better then current non-Hi Def XBox visuals. Most Xbox 360 games will probably still be aimed primarily to those without HiDefinition capable TV's.

Bizarre, in some respects it looks quite nice for a late 05 launch… in others it seems decidedly weak for a console that should be expected to last 5-6yrs.
Long term we shall see out it works out for them.

An interesting route to take. It certainly won't be very programmer friendly, I wonder what the underlying OS is?
The Xbox used a Windows CE derivative on the Coppermine Celeron/PIII dirivative, with the Xbox360 going PPC it certainly won't be any variant of Windows.

With Sony's Cell processor in the Playstation 3 being a massively parallel processor with many small relatively fixed purpose cores buffered by one larger more powerful core it'll be heading the route of many many threads but each thread/core being relatively limited in it's capabilities and comparatively slow. The PS3 will certainly be an extremely difficult console to get good performance out of and optimize code for, even without taking into account how difficult it will be to program for. Still, under the right conditions is could potentially be vastly superior to the XBox.
Unfortunately I don't see the Cell doing well, ironically it's a little too good in some respects… it's too far ahead of it's time. With the Cell built on a 90nm process, each of it's many cores has had to be dumbed down and stripped of most of it's general purpose nature in order to get a reasonably cost effective die size.
Too much, too soon.
Long term, I think Sony has the right idea… but not until lithography tools can handle a 32nm process at the very least. At such a process size the massively parallel route of the Cell may work out very nicely as each individual core could be similar or close in complexity to modern single-threaded processors. and wouldn't need to be so excessively dumbed down as they are in the Cell.
(The Cell implemented in the PS3 appears to be 1x 3.2GHz PPC + 7x SPE @ 3.2GHz)

Nintendo's Revolution of course we know little about it's specifications beyond the fact that it's some sort of PPC derivative, utilizing a ATi graphics.

May 15, 2005 Posted by | Console Examination | Leave a comment