Could the Playstation 3 Kill Sony?


sony playstation 3As we quickly approach E3 in May, many people are eagerly anticipating more details on the Sony PS3. Since Sony burst onto the gaming scene with the original Playstation, they have been the company to beat in the console wars. As a matter of fact, while the rest of Sony has struggled, the Playstation division has been a cash cow that the rest of the company has relied on. With Microsoft having already launched the Xbox 360 to overwhelming demand, many are wondering what the counter from Sony will truly look like, hype set aside. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that Sony is betting a large hand on the Playstation 3. It’s not just the Playstation division that’s making the bet, either. With the next-gen Hi-Def format war still raging, Sony is betting a substantial portion of it’s future on Blu-Ray. While most analysts agree that HD-DVD will not likely win, some analysts are openly wondering whether Blu-Ray will as well. If it doesn’t, Sony could be in serious trouble.

Isn’t This Thing Supposed to Play Games First?
In order for Sony’s Trojan Horse strategy with Blu-Ray to work, the Playstation 3 has to succeed as a gaming console. As a game console, the Playstation 3 has to deliver on several fronts. In pure horsepower and graphical ability, there’s little doubt that the console will impress. There are serious reservations as to Sony’s online strategy (compared to Xbox Live) and we’ll cover that in a bit. However, one aspect of gaming that is often ignored, but can become a major issue is load times. Ask any Sony PSP owner what annoys them most about the portable console and you are sure to hear about it’s dreadful load times. Gamers are an impatient breed and if Sony frustrates hardcore gamers – and developers, for that matter – it could greatly damage it’s reputation with the group that will comprise PS3 early adopters.

Until now, it’s been widely assumed that the Blu-ray drive that will make it’s way into the PS3 will be single-speed. If true, this choice could be disasterous. Blu-ray single speed transfers data at a constant rate of 36Mbps (Megabits per second) or 4.5 MBps (Megabytes per second). Sound impressive? Think again. DVD single speed is rated at a little over 1.32MBps max. A 12X DVD, such as the one in the Xbox 360, transfers data at rates between 8.2 and 16.5 MBps for an average of around 13MBps. This article from Gamespot provides all the details on transfer speeds, but simple math should show that there are some serious concerns looming with a single speed Blu-Ray drive. So, all things being equal, a 20 second load-time on the Xbox 360 would equate to just under 60 seconds on the PS3!

In order for Sony to bring load times into the same range as the Xbox 360, it would have to use at least a 2X drive (which would transfer a little faster than a 12X DVD’s minimum speed) or a 3X drive (which would closely resemble a 12X DVD’s average transfer rate). Since Blu-ray is a new technology, it’s a certainty that the faster speeds will increase the base cost of the PS3, which leads into the next point.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
The Playstation 3 will lose money for at least a few years. How much and for how long is key, and recent projections from Merrill Lynch Japan suggest that the PS3 could lose a tremendous amount of money for Sony in the first few years. Merrill Lynch is projecting losses of 1.18 billion in year 1, 730 million in year 2 and 457 million in year 3. By comparison, Sony’s profits in the past three years has been about 1.86 billion. If the PS3 doesn’t start turning a serious profit in year 4, Sony’s bank accounts could start drying up. There’s no indication if these losses also anticipate the costs involved with setting up the massive infrastructure for an Xbox Live competitor, which most people think Sony will provide. If not, Sony’s losses could skyrocket even more as it looks to create a brand-new online presense.

Sony could try to offset these losses by launching the PS3 with a higher price point, but anything above $500 is considered too high for wide adoption. Will consumers agree with Ken Kutaragi’s assessment that you will want to work an extra job to have one? Kutaragi has even lamented that “…the PS3 can’t be offered at a price that’s targeted towards households.”

Additionally, Sony is stil having to compete with HD-DVD, which is getting significant backing from Microsoft (and their 37 billion in cash). Whereas Microsoft has little to lose if HD-DVD fails, Sony has everything to lose. Additionally, recent announcements at CES in January indicate that the least expensive Blu-Ray drives will start at $1000 while HD-DVD is hitting the market with players starting at $500. Many analysts saw these changes as giving HD-DVD a second-wind that could ultimately hurt Sony more than it helps HD-DVD, which leads to another point.

Tell Me Why I Need Blu-Ray More Than DVD?
Unless you have an HDTV set, you’ll never see the difference between Blu-Ray and DVD. And considering that Hi-Def adoption is currently at 24% and more than half of consumers are waiting for price drops, the target market for Blu-Ray is not as lucrative as one might believe. When DVDs hit the market, there were several reasons to purchase them. For one, the quality far surpassed VHS. Additionally, menus and extra features made DVD content easier to access and gave it more value. Also, DVDs don’t degrade in quality over time, making them a better long-term investment. The jump from DVD to Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD) is not as significant, unless you’re an HDTV owner. Even then, the question remains: Is Blu-Ray content going to be compelling enough to make me say “I have to have it?”

Recent announcements also suggest that Blu-Ray disc prices will come at a significant premium over existing DVD prices. With broadband adoption growing rapidly, one also has to ask if a physical format has a long life ahead of it. Bill Gates has publicly stated that he thinks the format war is the last we’ll see, because hi-def content will be soon be delivered over the Internet instead. HD-DVD may not win the war, but it doesn’t mean that Blu-ray will.

Games, Games, Games
The Playstation 3 has wide support right now. However, rumblings have been surfacing that the PS3 is hard to develop for, due to the complexity of a brand new processor with multiple cores. Similar criticisms arose with the PS2, and while Sony was able to overcome the same hurdles then, there is one major difference now that may keep history from repeating itself: the Xbox 360.

Since the original Xbox came into the game a good bit later than the PS2, developers had to stick with Sony because it was the clear market leader. This afforded Sony liberties that it may not have had otherwise. Now, Microsoft has the head start. Additionally, the Microsoft unit has already been praised by the likes of John Carmack (creator of Doom, Quake, etc…) for it’s great development environment, while Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame has expressed some concerns that development for the PS3 could be more difficult than for the Xbox 360. Sony must have strong 3rd party support so that licensing fees will help recoup the costs of putting the PS3 into the market. Just being Sony may not be enough anymore.

Conclusion
While I don’t think we’ll see Sony close it’s doors for good, I have some concerns about the affect the PS3 could have on Sony’s financials over the next few years and into the future. Microsoft has created an impressive console with the Xbox 360 and while Sony has a strong history in the Playstation line, there are key components for concern. Blu-Ray, an online service like Xbox Live and a hard development environment create additional areas for financial loss that may not be recouped. For the sake of competition and a strong market, let’s hope Sony can address these concerns adequately and while there is still time.





Filed in: Industry Buzz


  • Nico_14_Ian

    ..I mean c’mon. “Microsoft has released an quote- “impressive” -quote next-gen machine.. C’mon? Get real! Impressive? Has he ever “seen” an xbox 360 game running?

    holy, not next-gen, batman!

  • techchic

    Excellent article as usual. There are some very good points here. I think this type of article is going to get negative comments from all the PS loyal boys. If your looking at the consoles from a neutral corner, you have to believe that the 360 still has the upper hand.

    Thanks for the post.

  • ronenmiz

    I think the concerns are valid since Sony is clinging to its gaming division as the only real money maker for them, however lots of people tend to forger the real question here, which is what platform will deliver superior games? For now the battle is still games and not entertainment. Sure both companies look at their consoles as a spearhead to the living room, but this round is still about games more than anything else. This brings me to the real issue here, how well is Sony positioned to keep delivering many of the best games on their console before they are released on other consoles? How big is the difference between the cell processor and what it allows one to do in terms of gaming versus the powerpc used in the xbox.

    This is the most important variable and it is yet unknown. I think most people will be surprised when they see what this cell chip can do. If you ask me Sony did not make almost any real PS3 game demos to date because they wanted to shock people with the quality of the graphics and animations. Judging from the short preview presented in the Sony CES keynote (which I was fotunate to attend) and looking at actual demos of the XBOX 360, the gap is substantial. The cell processor is so much more powerful, that if leveraged correctly could translate itself to games so superior that the hard core gamers would not be able to resist the console (I know I will get the PS3 just so that I can put my hand on so much computing power and not because of the games, never before has been so much power packed into such a small pakage). Then again, great games are more than graphics so this all goes back to who can deliver better games.

    Regarding HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray, what is this stuff about the entry price for BL-Ray players being $1000? I mean you do not need to be too smart to realize that if the PS3 has Blu-Ray support then any Blu-Ray player must be cheaper than the PS3. Even if some are not you always have the option to get a PS3 and have a player for less than $1000, probably even less than $500 so I really do not get the hype around this subject.

  • Mike Trend

    ronenmiz said: Judging from the short preview presented in the Sony CES keynote (which I was fotunate to attend) and looking at actual demos of the XBOX 360, the gap is substantial.

    Since Sony has a reputation of manipulating their videos to make them look better, why do you think they would act differently with the PS3?

  • bilditup1

    Overall, an informative, if flawed article.
    I believe it puts way too much stock in off-hand comments by some videogame developers about how difficult the Cell is to program for. The PS2 was also the most difficult to program for; they still won. Similarly, the PS2 also had the longest load times. People, in general, will tolerate long load times as long as the games are fun (which is more important than just having flashy graphics – again, this was the weak department for the PS2.)
    —–
    ronenmiz:
    As for the power of the Cell chip vs. the power of the triple-core PPC970 in the 360 – this is so irrelevant it’s not funny. The majority of people who buy videogame systems (past the early adopters and fanboys) will not know squat about the Cell or the Xenon chip, they just want to play their games and watch their movies. Most people will not be able to tell the difference between the 360 and the PS3, just as most people weren’t able to tell the difference between a PS2 game and an Xbox or GameCube game, even though most of the time, the Cube or Xbox game looked better in some subtle way. These subtleties are lost on people – they are nice touches, but do they really change the gameplay experience in a significant way? No.
    And don’t place too much stock in early PS3 demos (which probably don’t reflect actual gameplay, etc. This is the same game they’ve been playing for years.)
    —–
    Also, you make no mention of how Microsoft has bungled their launch by not keeping up with demand (worldwide launch = stupid idea, especially in Japan, where they lost before the first 360 was sold.)

    And finally, like so many ‘game-war’ articles today, it completely ignores the impact Nintendo might have on the industry. To marginalize them completely is just asinine, but it seems to be in vogue in most journalism circles.

  • David Walker

    bilditup1 said: Overall, an informative, if flawed article.
    I believe it puts way too much stock in off-hand comments by some videogame developers about how difficult the Cell is to program for. The PS2 was also the most difficult to program for; they still won. Similarly, the PS2 also had the longest load times. People, in general, will tolerate long load times as long as the games are fun (which is more important than just having flashy graphics – again, this was the weak department for the PS2.)
    —–
    ronenmiz:
    As for the power of the Cell chip vs. the power of the triple-core PPC970 in the 360 – this is so irrelevant it’s not funny. The majority of people who buy videogame systems (past the early adopters and fanboys) will not know squat about the Cell or the Xenon chip, they just want to play their games and watch their movies. Most people will not be able to tell the difference between the 360 and the PS3, just as most people weren’t able to tell the difference between a PS2 game and an Xbox or GameCube game, even though most of the time, the Cube or Xbox game looked better in some subtle way. These subtleties are lost on people – they are nice touches, but do they really change the gameplay experience in a significant way? No.
    And don’t place too much stock in early PS3 demos (which probably don’t reflect actual gameplay, etc. This is the same game they’ve been playing for years.)
    —–
    Also, you make no mention of how Microsoft has bungled their launch by not keeping up with demand (worldwide launch = stupid idea, especially in Japan, where they lost before the first 360 was sold.)

    And finally, like so many ‘game-war’ articles today, it completely ignores the impact Nintendo might have on the industry. To marginalize them completely is just asinine, but it seems to be in vogue in most journalism circles.

    Thanks for the comments. I do want to clarify something about the article. For one, it is an opinion piece and at that, is more of a speculative look than a prediction. I don’t think Sony will tank. As a matter of fact, I’m already signed-up for a pre-order for my PS3. I think both the 360 and the PS3 can succeed in today’s market (and the Revolution as well).

    However, the article was designed to look at potential mis-steps by Sony, not compare them to Microsoft or Nintendo. I didn’t bring up Microsoft, because the problems facing the PS3 are mostly self-inflicted by Sony. Microsoft is only a factor in that they are providing an outside source of pressure that didn’t exist when the PS2 came to market.

    Also, the concerns of load-time and programming difficulty by themselves wouldn’t be issues. However, if you combine them with the 360 coming to market first, Sony sinking huge amounts of money into the PS3 (and publicly stating that they are depending on it’s success) and the fact that Blu-Ray is not a “conclusive” winner in the next format war – Sony is taking a much bigger risk than they ever imagined with the PS2.

    And to be completely clear – I’m neither a MS or Sony fan. I want both consoles because both have compelling content. MS has Xbox Live while Sony has great titles like the MGS series. I think it’s best for gaming if both companies succeed, and that’s what I hope for. I also sincerely hope that Sony can avoid the pitfalls I mentioned by providing strong developer support, reducing load times and finding a way to produce profit before they sink themselves too deeply into the red. For the sake of gaming in general, let’s hope they do succeed.

  • bilditup1

    Aight, thanks for the clarification David. From that perspective, the article makes more sense – as an overall ‘game-wars’ analysis, it’s lacking, but it was never intended to be so. Instead, it’s a statement about how much Sony stands to lose. (Still, you could have mentioned the Revolution somewhere in there; I don’t think it’s completely irrelevant to the article…)

  • http://www.rohoguys.com rohodoug

    Good article, did you see that Gizmodo has a link to your article now from their site? Pretty cool.

  • David Walker

    rohodoug said: Good article, did you see that Gizmodo has a link to your article now from their site? Pretty cool.

    Thanks! Just noticed the Gizmodo link myself.

  • Jeremy

    I think there were a few key topics that were left out of this equation.

    First and formost, Blu-Ray may be expensive, but being as it is making it’s Debut (so to speak) on the PS3, it will give Blu-Ray that “leg up” in theory.

    This is important because Sony will not have to worry so much about their 3rd parter developer support, as they will begin to rake in royalties and license fee’s from Blu-Ray movies.

    Also, I think it would have been noteable to mention that there are camps on both sides of the PS3 development issue, some saying it’s significantly easier to develop for than the PS2, while other are saying they are having trouble with it. I think what it really boils down to is what developers are trying to do with their games, and what content they already have readily available. Those that are making simple games with out complex AI engine’s or Physics engines will most certainly argue something different, while others will say it’s difficult. It really depends on what context it is being used in.

    Another point I wanted to hit on is that Sony is currently making a profit on every PS2 sold, and I think that is also part of the reason we aren’t hearing about the PS3 as much. There are still flagship titles being released on the PS2, and Sony know’s they can milk it for as much as it’s worth until it’s dying day. They will continue to rake in that profit to prepare for the PS3, and you did not mention this.

    We also must remember that Sony makes a significant profit on UMD video’s, specifically those that are not being pressed by Sony Pictures. There are still fee’s, and sony is still making money (especially considering there aren’t many games on PSP, so the movies sell especially well).

    Just thought I’d throw a few of those thoughts around, as I feel they would have been key counter points to your topics.

  • David Walker

    Jeremy said: I think there were a few key topics that were left out of this equation.

    First and formost, Blu-Ray may be expensive, but being as it is making it’s Debut (so to speak) on the PS3, it will give Blu-Ray that “leg up” in theory.

    This is important because Sony will not have to worry so much about their 3rd parter developer support, as they will begin to rake in royalties and license fee’s from Blu-Ray movies.

    Also, I think it would have been noteable to mention that there are camps on both sides of the PS3 development issue, some saying it’s significantly easier to develop for than the PS2, while other are saying they are having trouble with it. I think what it really boils down to is what developers are trying to do with their games, and what content they already have readily available. Those that are making simple games with out complex AI engine’s or Physics engines will most certainly argue something different, while others will say it’s difficult. It really depends on what context it is being used in.

    Another point I wanted to hit on is that Sony is currently making a profit on every PS2 sold, and I think that is also part of the reason we aren’t hearing about the PS3 as much. There are still flagship titles being released on the PS2, and Sony know’s they can milk it for as much as it’s worth until it’s dying day. They will continue to rake in that profit to prepare for the PS3, and you did not mention this.

    We also must remember that Sony makes a significant profit on UMD video’s, specifically those that are not being pressed by Sony Pictures. There are still fee’s, and sony is still making money (especially considering there aren’t many games on PSP, so the movies sell especially well).

    Just thought I’d throw a few of those thoughts around, as I feel they would have been key counter points to your topics.

    Jeremy – excellent points, and worth weighing in with the content of the opinion piece. Thanks a ton for this post!

    Though I won’t touch on each point, I will comment on your points in general. In order for Blu-Ray to be accepted as the new standard, other manufacturer’s are banking on the PS3 to succeed wildly. However, if the PS3 does not succeed as a console first, Blu-Ray could lose support from other studios, which in turn reduces Blu-Ray royalties and so on and so forth. The biggest problem I’m seeing in the PS3 strategy is the reliance on success in 2 key areas – gaming and movies. Whereas the PS2 helped usher in DVDs, it did so without DVDs having a competitor, whereas Blu-Ray still has HD-DVD to contend with.

  • Jeremy

    David Walker said: Jeremy – excellent points, and worth weighing in with the content of the opinion piece. Thanks a ton for this post!

    Though I won’t touch on each point, I will comment on your points in general. In order for Blu-Ray to be accepted as the new standard, other manufacturer’s are banking on the PS3 to succeed wildly. However, if the PS3 does not succeed as a console first, Blu-Ray could lose support from other studios, which in turn reduces Blu-Ray royalties and so on and so forth. The biggest problem I’m seeing in the PS3 strategy is the reliance on success in 2 key areas – gaming and movies. Whereas the PS2 helped usher in DVDs, it did so without DVDs having a competitor, whereas Blu-Ray still has HD-DVD to contend with.

    I agree completely, competition plays a heavy factor. I think the biggest “deciding factor” so to speak, with this war, is going to be which one will be better marketed to the consumer. We already know that UMD has a strong push from Sony, but can they accomplish the same thing with Blu-Ray?

    I think my main concern with this is, how do you push a console, while at the same time pushing the movie format? I feel as though consumers today may get the wrong impression if they see a Blu-Ray movie being advertised as like UMD is for the PSP.

    For instance, when a UMD commercial pop’s up, it directly references it to the PSP, and I think if Sony markets Blu-Ray the same way, it could alienate a lot of potential buyers (mainly I mean users who aren’t tech savvy) into thinking that Blu-Ray is something for a video games console to watch movies, and not a mainstream movie format.

    Hopefully all of this will clear up, as I’m definately excited for all of the next gen hype to finally be delivered to my front door.

  • StriderMatu

    Hmmm, I like the article. Some of the info provided is what I’ve suspected for a little while. I agree with many others that Nintendo can’t be ignored. It bothers me that they did not make it into the article.

    Microsoft clearly has the upperhand and changes the entire dynamic of the next gen race. If Nintendo were Sony’s only competitor then the outcome would be a bit more easier to predict. By Microsoft has a bigger wallet, a direct line to PC support, an excellent online component in Xbox Live and XBLA and a capable console in the 360. Comparing graphics is going to be a moot point in the next gen. Most games are going look great by default. I’m more concerned with fill-rate and framerate. In other words, how smooth can the game run and how many models can the engine generate on-screen, in a real world environment and still maintain performance.

    Can anyone deny the quality of Fight Night Round 3 for the 360? Am I going to feel bad that the PS3 version may push more polys and maybe have better textures? Should I not purchase a 360 because Metal Gear’s demo looked good on PS3. Should I not play Oblivion? Are you kidding me. The next gen is going to be about gameplay. Moreso than any other generation. The hardware is such that developers can do whatever they want to without question. Sony doesn’t have the same depth of exclusive 3rd party content that they’ve enjoyed for the last two generations. Microsoft is gaining the attention of that talent pool and is rewarded with content.
    The Fight Night Round 3 demo has proven that downloadable content can be a viable means for console gamers to get new demos and/or games without ever touching a (blu-ray/hd-dvd) disc.

    Now it gets interesting…

  • ronenmiz

    As for the power of the Cell chip vs. the power of the triple-core PPC970 in the 360 – this is so irrelevant it’s not funny. The majority of people who buy videogame systems (past the early adopters and fanboys) will not know squat about the Cell or the Xenon chip, they just want to play their games and watch their movies. Most people will not be able to tell the difference between the 360 and the PS3, just as most people weren’t able to tell the difference between a PS2 game and an Xbox or GameCube game, even though most of the time, the Cube or Xbox game looked better in some subtle way. These subtleties are lost on people – they are nice touches, but do they really change the gameplay experience in a significant way? No.
    And don’t place too much stock in early PS3 demos (which probably don’t reflect actual gameplay, etc. This is the same game they’ve been playing for years.)

    I agree about the difference between Gamecube, Xbox, and PS2, however the Cell chip is a real innovation that can change the rules of the game altogether. It is the first time ever since the first CPU was made that something so drastically above and beyond anything else out there has become possible and for such a low price. Just for the sake of the example, it will probably take Intel 4-5 years to come up with an eight core pentium, with each core running at 3-4 Ghz as is the case for the cell chip. I mean their Core Duo is at a max of about 2 Ghz so the technological gap above and beyond traditional chips is there and should not be downplayed just because historically it was more of a markeing thing than an actual processing power thing.
    The question is will Sony be able to translate it to better games? I agree that this is going to be more important than the power itself since computing power is meaningless if not put into good use. My point was, however, that they have this extra edge and it now remains to see if they can leverage it or not.

  • StriderMatu

    As powerful as the Cell processor is according to reports and such, I’ll believe it when I see it. I still remember the report of PS2 pushing 75million polygons on screen and the PS2 being as powerful as goverment supercomputers. George Lucus even got in on the act stating the the PS2 was as power as the workstations ILM uses to render hollywood efx. I have no doubt the Cell will be able to perform, but I question how well it will perform in real world applications.

  • Jeremy

    StriderMatu said: As powerful as the Cell processor is according to reports and such, I’ll believe it when I see it. I still remember the report of PS2 pushing 75million polygons on screen and the PS2 being as powerful as goverment supercomputers. George Lucus even got in on the act stating the the PS2 was as power as the workstations ILM uses to render hollywood efx. I have no doubt the Cell will be able to perform, but I question how well it will perform in real world applications.

    I think you have to understand all of those in context.

    When Sony said that their PS2 was capable of pushing 75 million poly’s, they did so as a “max bench” which entails no textures, fills, or anything else, it’s basically a marketing tool. Is it a real world number for application? No, however that does not make it a “false” statement, just a misinterpreted one.

    Also, I do think George Lucas was stretching the truth there a tad, but you also have to remember that they used multiple PC’s and did not render in real time, so it wouldn’t be too far off, especially considering at the time it was all new technology, and to this day the bus speeds on the PS2 are very impressive, it’s rendering capability in real time is amazing for it’s limited hardware resources, so I’m sure if someone were to render something frame by frame, it would be possible to do some amazing things, just not in a “real time” application.

  • wild_quinine

    ronenmiz said: I agree about the difference between Gamecube, Xbox, and PS2, however the Cell chip is a real innovation that can change the rules of the game altogether. It is the first time ever since the first CPU was made that something so drastically above and beyond anything else out there has become possible and for such a low price. Just for the sake of the example, it will probably take Intel 4-5 years to come up with an eight core pentium, with each core running at 3-4 Ghz as is the case for the cell chip. I mean their Core Duo is at a max of about 2 Ghz so the technological gap above and beyond traditional chips is there and should not be downplayed just because historically it was more of a markeing thing than an actual processing power thing.
    The question is will Sony be able to translate it to better games? I agree that this is going to be more important than the power itself since computing power is meaningless if not put into good use. My point was, however, that they have this extra edge and it now remains to see if they can leverage it or not.

    Unfortunately this is all rubbish. The cell chip is certainly interesting, and I’m waiting to see what it can do, but the numbers you’re quoting are ridiculous.

    Firstly: The Cell only has one core. It’s a 64 bit RISC processor. It also has 8 synergistic processing units. This is why it is interesting, but it will be more to do with how they are used than any number of Ghz.

    Secondly: Intel and AMD x86 chips are CISC processors, and they crunch numbers in vitally different ways. You can’t compare PowerPC cores (like the cell) with x86 cores (like a PC) in terms of their Speed in GHz. You just can’t do it. You can compare them in terms of how much work they can do in a given time, but not in terms of how fast they run, because they run in different ways. Think of it like the gears on your bike. It’s not how many times you turn the pedals, it’s how fast your bike is moving that’s important!

    Thirdly: Apple are now making Macs with x86 chips instead of PowerPC chips (like the cell!) because they can’t get enough performance out of them. They advertise their new laptop with intel processor as being 4x faster now that intel chips are in, and PowerPC chips are out.

    Fourth: Sony do not have an ‘Extra Edge’. In previous generations, a new console has been more powerful than the existing PCs of the time. The PC has caught up, usually within a year or so, and then eclipsed the consoles. A modern PC is so much more powerful than a PS2 that it’s not even funny.

    This time, it’s different. PCs are ALREADY more powerful than any of the new consoles. The original Xbox ran what was basically a 700Mhz intel chip. This time it has ‘Three symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each’.

    It sounds good, but one study showed that in fact the actual performance you’ll get from an xbox 360 is about equivalent to a 1.5Ghz P4 with only one core. The same applies to the sony. It might perform better than an Xbox 360 but it is ALREADY slower than a modern high end gaming rig.

    Unfortunately you’ve been suckered by the marketing. Some numbers don’t mean anything much. If you look into it, you’ll see that there’s nothing very powerful about either PS3 or Xbox360.

    Here’s something to think about, since you’re obviously taken in by numbers, however meaningless: You know how they’re always harping on about the 234 million transistors in the Cell chip? The Cell chip has LESS transistors than my graphics card (302 million).

  • bankaistyle

    wild_quinine said: Unfortunately this is all rubbish. The cell chip is certainly interesting, and I’m waiting to see what it can do, but the numbers you’re quoting are ridiculous.

    Firstly: The Cell only has one core. It’s a 64 bit RISC processor. It also has 8 synergistic processing units. This is why it is interesting, but it will be more to do with how they are used than any number of Ghz.

    Unfortunately THAT is rubbish. This just goes to show how much people know about the Cell’s architecture. As long as we’ve strayed completely off topic and we want to get technical with the matter I will give you some insight.

    The XBox 360 has a Xenon processor with three symmetrical (read: identical) 64-bit PowerPC cores, each clocked at 3.2 GHz. All cores are capable of general purpose processing. The 1 MB L2 cache is clocked at 1.6 GHz (half the speed of the CPU). The cores use SMT and SIMD to share process load when one core is overloaded. It is unknown what programming language the SIMD units use. This system has some flaws due to latency between each core, the half-speed L2 cache, and the lack of a dedicated control core. It’s also comparitively difficult to program a game to effectively use more than one core (see PS3 CPU for details).

    The PlayStation 3 uses a Cell processor with 9 asymmetrical cores (one PPE to control the SPEs and 8 SPEs for actual processing, with one SPE reserved for redundancy to lower the attrition rate in manufacturing), each clocked at 3.2 GHz. All cores are capable of general purpose processing, contrary to Microsoft’s claim that only one core is capable. The 512 KB L2 cache is clocked at 3.2 GHz, making it just as effective as the 360′s 1 MB, 1.6 GHz L2. The cores use SIMD with 256 KB of programmable memory for each SPE to run dedicated processes, along with general purpose processes, with an atomic unit to synchronize the cores, drastically lowering latency. The SIMD units use C and XL C for instructions, and have an independent file system separate from the source data to allow for more complex programs. In contrast, the 360 has no known programmable memory for the cores, making it more difficult to program efficiently for the 360, contrary to much speculation.

    Memory:

    The 360 has 512 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3-RAM that the CPU and GPU share. It has a read/write speed of 22.4 GB/sec. The GPU has 10 MB of dedicated EDRAM which stores information on shader effects, alpha blending, etc., and has a read/write rate of 256 GB/sec with the logic chip, which has a 32 GB/sec bus to the GPU itself. Kinda high on latency, in my opinion (I’m referring to the delay caused by the use of external chips for graphical effects, not the bandwidth).

    The PS3 has 256 MB of 3.2 GHz XDR-RAM dedicatedto the Cell chip but accessible by the GPU, with a read/write speed of 25.6 GB/sec. It also has 256 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3-RAM dedicated solely to the GPU, with a read/write speed of 22.4 GB/sec.

  • Trasherhead

    One thing that isn’t brought up here is the fan-boy factor and that alot of people feel some sort of loialty to “their” console.
    PS2 has sold 100million units, lets say that 1/4 of them are fan-boys that are going to buy PS3 no matter what the price is or what games or anything. That is 25 million PS3 sold. Then you have the people that feel loialty to their console, that plays it safe and think that the PS1 and/or PS2 didn’t let me down, so the PS3 won’t ether.
    Then you have maybe as many as 20 million units mor sold. That is 45 million PS3. These numbers are all guesses.
    But if you think about the human mind it doe’s seem pretty likely.
    Then we can take this to the xbox, wich have “only” sold 22million units, 1/4 fan-boys, then you have alittle over 5 million units.

    This is just an idea i have.
    And another thing is that this will be the first time the Playstation will be the most powerfull console. We just have to see what they can make out of it, unlike the Xbox wich was alot more powerfull then the PS2, nut was not able to swing it the right way.

  • ronenmiz

    Unfortunately you’ve been suckered by the marketing. Some numbers don’t mean anything much. If you look into it, you’ll see that there’s nothing very powerful about either PS3 or Xbox360.

    Hey Microsoftie, I do not think I have been fooled by any marketing, in fact I think you have been fooled by Micrsosoft disinformation about the Cell. Did you know that one of their executives admitted that when they came to IBM for a CPU for the 360, the cell was not made an option and if it were…

    Thirdly: Apple are now making Macs with x86 chips instead of PowerPC chips (like the cell!) because they can’t get enough performance out of them. They advertise their new laptop with intel processor as being 4x faster now that intel chips are in, and PowerPC chips are out.

    Speaking of rubbish. Intel chips are not more powerful, in fact Intel has a huge crisis when it comes to the power of their CISC chips compared to AMD and to RISCs by IBM. There is one thing and one thing only in which Intel still has an edge and this is thanks to a recent development announced in CES. They have a better ratio between processing speed and the power consumed by the chip. This difference is so important that it gives a company the ability to build laptops that are almost as fast as desktops (as fast an Intel Desktops not AMD’s :D ). Other than that they have nothing and in fact for the first time in many many years, they are trailing AMD and IBM. Do your homework buddy before making such conclusive posts that are based on disinformation instead of facts and learn to filter the marketing mumbo jumbo and find the important stuff between the lines.

  • wild_quinine

    ronenmiz said: Hey Microsoftie, I do not think I have been fooled by any marketing, in fact I think you have been fooled by Micrsosoft disinformation about the Cell. Did you know that one of their executives admitted that when they came to IBM for a CPU for the 360, the cell was not made an option and if it were…

    I have no particular allegience to any of the consoles. I think that Microsoft have also made a bit of an error in choosing to go with three vastly underpowered cores, mostly for cost-cutting reasons. Whether or not MS would have purchased the cell, if offered, doesn’t concern me in the slightest.

    It’s funny how you assume that, just because I’m down on the PS3, I must automatically be a MS fanboi. You know who thinks like that? Fanboys do.

    I couldn’t give two shits about either console, until some good games come out, some better media support (good work microsoft :P) and somebody manages to do something interesting with the hardware.

    The one nice thing about the consoles is that because nobody knows what to do with them right now, I think people will be eking little bits of power out of them for years, so during the natural development cycle you will see better and better looking and playing games for the next four or five years, even more so than with the PS2.

    ronenmiz said:  Speaking of rubbish. Intel chips are not more powerful, in fact Intel has a huge crisis when it comes to the power of their CISC chips compared to AMD and to RISCs by IBM. There is one thing and one thing only in which Intel still has an edge and this is thanks to a recent development announced in CES. They have a better ratio between processing speed and the power consumed by the chip. This difference is so important that it gives a company the ability to build laptops that are almost as fast as desktops (as fast an Intel Desktops not AMD’s :D ). Other than that they have nothing and in fact for the first time in many many years, they are trailing AMD and IBM.

    There isn’t a G5 Apple Laptop. You know why? Because they can’t make them. It’s due to the reasons you list above, they can’t keep the power down, they can’t keep the heat down, etc, etc.

    You know that Intel were going to ship a 4Ghz chip a few years ago, but they pulled it because (as far as I’m aware) they couldn’t keep the temperature down.

    In terms of REAL CHIPS that you can BUY and USE at home, and their common applications, the most high performance intel chip outstrips the most high performance PowerPC chip. End of story.

    And the same would have been true in a console.

    Recent news suggests that IBM have been making some major progress (there were lots of funny stories about Apple maybe having jumped ship too soon :)

    I don’t dislike any of these companies, not one more than any of the others, at any rate. What I don’t like are their legions of cultists. Does it make you feel better if your side is winning?

    You know what makes me feel better? Buying whatever product does what I want best, and for the best value.

    ronenmiz said: Do your homework buddy before making such conclusive posts that are based on disinformation instead of facts and learn to filter the marketing mumbo jumbo and find the important stuff between the lines.

    Ok. Now that above is my argument. Did you like it so much that you just had to reuse it? You did put it better than I did, so kudos for that.

    FYI, although AMD desktops are faster than intel in most games, the Intels almost unanimously outstrip AMDs in number crunching excercises, video encoding and the like. I would personally argue that Intel generally make the better chip.

    Interesting side point, of course – if you were going to make a console with either an Intel or an AMD chip, it might make sense to choose AMD because of the performance in modern games.

  • Trasherhead

    AMD chips does the same work as Itels chips only it’s using less power and a lower clock Fqz.

    Get back on the topic guys.

  • illira

    When the PS2 first launched, it was also said to have a difficult development environment, but the problem was really that the processor could do so much more than anything any developers had ever seen and were unsure about exactly what they could do. They spent a lot of time trying to figure out if they could do certain things. They erroneously related this time consumption with difficult programming. Once they knew what the hardware could handle, programming became much easier.

  • David Walker

    illira said: When the PS2 first launched, it was also said to have a difficult development environment, but the problem was really that the processor could do so much more than anything any developers had ever seen and were unsure about exactly what they could do. They spent a lot of time trying to figure out if they could do certain things. They erroneously related this time consumption with difficult programming. Once they knew what the hardware could handle, programming became much easier.

    Those are good points. However, I think one thing that changes the game now is that there is a significant competitor in the X360 that has a MUCH better dev environment than those Sony is used to providing. In fact, one of the breakthroughs in PS2 development came from a middleware pack that was created by a 3rd party vendor, not Sony. Microsoft has much better experience in producing useful middleware (DirectX), which forces Sony to have to provide a better environment in this generation.

    If they don’t provide good developer support (and some recent reports suggest this hasn’t changed), then development costs for the console will outpace those for the X360, which will leave publishers with the decision of developing games for the 360 at lower costs or the PS3 at higher costs. I, for one, think Sony will probably license out a 3rd party to provide middleware support for them again to avoid this being a long-term issue. If they don’t – it could spell trouble in long-term developer support.

  • bankaistyle

    David Walker said: Those are good points. However, I think one thing that changes the game now is that there is a significant competitor in the X360 that has a MUCH better dev environment than those Sony is used to providing. In fact, one of the breakthroughs in PS2 development came from a middleware pack that was created by a 3rd party vendor, not Sony. Microsoft has much better experience in producing useful middleware (DirectX), which forces Sony to have to provide a better environment in this generation.

    If they don’t provide good developer support (and some recent reports suggest this hasn’t changed), then development costs for the console will outpace those for the X360, which will leave publishers with the decision of developing games for the 360 at lower costs or the PS3 at higher costs. I, for one, think Sony will probably license out a 3rd party to provide middleware support for them again to avoid this being a long-term issue. If they don’t – it could spell trouble in long-term developer support.

    I really don’t understand where you are getting your ‘recent reports’ from considering there is no valid source or link to suggest that development for the PlayStation 3 has been horrendous. You may be going by hearsay or even developer blogs. What remains true is that Sony has gone the whole nine yards and provided developers with something that they can work with. PlayStation 2 has boggled the developer minds with EMOTION Engine. And up until now they haven’t been able to tap into it’s Vector processing. If you look at games like BLACK now… it’s almost to the point where you could say ‘that almost looks next-gen… and PS2 is pumping that out?’

    I will clear this up now by saying PlayStation 3 has sacrificed the sheer power of revolutionizing Emotion Engine into Emotion Engine II and bowed to the masses by using a GPU developers can work with. First of all.. the system uses an nVidia GPU which in turn, uses OpenGL…. I’m sure developers are familiar with this. CELL processor works on C+, XML based programming… which is quite similar to modern games of today. So if your hearing ‘recent reports’ of development being hard for PS3…. then think about your sources… Are the developers who are calling C+/XML/OpenGL hard to develop for….. the developers you want to rely on for information?

    You stated that even Hideo Kojima said the PS3 was hard to work with, and yes provided a link… which justified none of that, and it no part did he say such a thing… so that was a pointless reference. What about EA, Guerilla Games, and Incognito? All of their statements so far have been quite positive as to the Final developers kit, including the quote by recent Guerilla Games tester.. “crazy-easy” he would so put development for PS3 as.

  • David Walker

    The last thing I want to do is get into a “fan-boy” argument, but here’s Kojima’s quote: “My impression is, for PS3 Sony is aiming for a very high level. I’m not sure if everyone can live up to that high standard that Sony is expecting. So if everyone is expected to meet that high level, I am not sure that every creator, every publisher will be able to meet these high expectations. For Xbox 360, it’s a little bit more down to earth, more realistic so people maybe can join easily to start creating on the 360.”

    And from the developer link: “”Realistically, as libraries and experience with both machines grow, I think the PS3 will start showing things the 360 will choke at,” offers the source. “But Sony will have to make available to us libraries and new routines for that to happen – something they’ve been severely lacking at so far.

    To be clear, I’m not saying PS3 is harder to develop for than PS2 or that it’s even a “hard” environment to develop for in and of itself. What is true, though, is that MS has provided a much better dev environment and middleware than Sony. The big S can’t rest on their laurels this time around. Their competition is much harder in this generation and they don’t have the head-start they did last time.

    Finally, whether a developer can program in C++/XML/OpenGL is not the point. What matters most is the support developers get to shorten their programming needs. A developer shouldn’t have to write simple rendering routines. It is a waste of time. If Sony does not get developer’s libraries to simplify their programming, then development costs on the PS3 will be higher than on the 360 – which was my original point.

  • Maxx

    PSP Load times to long … well what do you expect from a hand held device, its not a Pentium PC. I have a PSP and find it fine for what it is. Then load times of PS3 going to take 60sec, thats I wild guess, I’m sure it wont be that bad.Most of the info in the article sounds to much like speculations – rather wait till its out and youve played around with it and then compare it to the crappy, glorified PC console knowen as the Xbox. :eek:

  • wild_quinine

    bankaistyle said: I really don’t understand where you are getting your ‘recent reports’ from considering there is no valid source or link to suggest that development for the PlayStation 3 has been horrendous. You may be going by hearsay or even developer blogs.

    Yeah, you sure can’t trust those developers to know what they’re talking about. I guess they’re just too dumb to take advantage of the massive power that Sony has put at their disposal.

    :confused:

  • fg11

    I have noticed from some online articles such as http://www.joystiq.com/2006/11/22/p…ore-exclusives/

    That sony has already started losing their major game dev companies ,This can only lead to more Pains for sony later . Sony should not rely soloy on blue-ray with it’s 1 speed without a massive online gaming network , I do believe sony has badly hurt itself with the developers pulling up steaks and moving back to ps2 & xbox 360.
    I have always been a dedicated play station gamer , I think now it’s time to move over to a new system that has a solid future ..Not knocking any sony persons love for their already purchased ps3 good for you if you like it . I see 23 ps3′s setting on this shelf at bestbuy right now and not a single person standing around them staring , over in the 360 bin is a few people and the wii bin has about 60 people and several systems walking out the door . Price & online servcie will control the market now days , over priced over hype can’t ride on just your companies rep anymore ..

    Basically does it really matter how powerful a machine is if the software is hard to develope and their is NO! online gaming service ?

    very nice forums btw alot of intelligent people posting alot of different veiws , this is good :)

  • http://www.playstationgames.co.uk Playstation games

    Awesome man, this is great news because sony will not last forever they may die soon but right now they are a really big brand so if they get killed i will be shocked and im waiting for the big story