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Next-Gen Console CPUs Not Up to Hype 783

rAiNsT0rm writes "Anandtech follows up their initial in-depth coverage of the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPU with the real truth about the next-gen consoles' Poor CPU Performance. From the article: "Speaking under conditions of anonymity with real world game developers who have had first hand experience writing code for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware (and dev kits where applicable), we asked them for nothing more than their brutal honesty. What did they think of these new consoles? Are they really outfitted with the PC-eclipsing performance we've been lead to believe they have? The answer is actually quite frequently found in history; as with anything, you get what you pay for."" Update: 06/30 21:11 GMT by Z : The original article disappeared from Anandtech, so I've changed the link to point to the story as hosted by Google Groups.
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Next-Gen Console CPUs Not Up to Hype

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  • Random Thoughts: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:08PM (#12945111) Homepage Journal
    1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines? Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm getting old.
    • by catch23 ( 97972 )
      yup. you're getting old. there are still fun games in the modern age, you just envy the prehistoric arcades.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:15PM (#12945186)
      Maybe I'm getting old.
      Are you from Korea?
    • can someone please bring back monkey island? i've always enjoyed shoovng the q-tip into the statue's ear....
      • Re:Random Thoughts: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Strontium-90 ( 799337 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:41PM (#12945435)
        I heartily agree. I'd like to go back and play the old LucasArts games like Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Day of the Tentacle. I need to put together an old 486/DOS box so that I can load up my old Sierra (Space/King's Quest) and Origin (Wing Commander, Ultima) games. I keep saying it: Computer game companies could make a ton of money by simply updating their old classics to play easily on new computers. I don't even really care about updated graphics. I know that there are things like ScummVM that allow you to play some games and fix up the graphics a bit, but it requires the original disks, which I have but cannot use (no 5.25"/3.5" floppy drives). I, for one, would pay a lot of money to get copies of my old games that Just Work on my newer machines.

        You fight like a dairy farmer! ... How appropriate, you fight like a cow! []
    • by Capt. Caneyebus ( 883802 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:19PM (#12945228)
      "Tell me something: Why do games today *have* to be something I can't let my 5 year old son play? He still plays the old Nintendo games I used to play as a kid. He thinks they're a lot of fun." If yall have noticed, Nintendo still puts more focus on making their games fun to play, rather than focusing on the games that are graphically intense. I think this is why I love my Game Cube so much.
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:19PM (#12945230) Journal
      Where is the Coconut Monkey!?!

      He would wave hello, but he has no hands.

      (Yay for obscure references)
    • by tlmatters ( 860481 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:21PM (#12945257)
      Yep, you're getting old... that's where the wisdom you are exercising comes from.

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

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

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

      • Re:Random Thoughts: (Score:5, Informative)

        by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:57PM (#12945558) Journal
        If you still want fun games for kids that don't include lots of graphic violence, and you're on a PC (or Mac) instead of a console - I think almost all the stuff from GameHouse is excellent. My kid is only 3, yet she already loves playing their "Gutterball 3D" game, just to try different colored bowling balls and watch them roll down the lane and knock pins down. And if they're a little older, all the stuff like TextTwist makes you think as well as have fun.

        They're inexpensive and downloadable off the net, too ... so if you want a new one, you don't even have to go to the store to get it first.

        These days, most of the really good, non-violent stuff in PC/Mac gaming comes from web sites marketing their goods online. The small developers haven't "sold out" to Hollywood yet.
    • Re:Random Thoughts: (Score:5, Informative)

      by aklix ( 801048 ) < minus distro> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:22PM (#12945263) Homepage Journal
      The revolution is for you. Not only are nintendo games known for being popular around kids, but the Revolution will have downloadable classics that ran on old systems.
    • Re:Random Thoughts: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Slack3r78 ( 596506 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:32PM (#12945361) Homepage
      1. With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines? Or perhaps the real point is, why use your computer for gaming?

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

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

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

      In short, these next-gen consoles are based around a very specific set of requirements, and I wouldn't expect them to replace your desktop PC any time particularly soon. Set-top box, sure. But they're not general purpose computers.
      • Re:Random Thoughts: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:51PM (#12945518) Homepage Journal
        Personally, I'd argue that this is an incorrect premise. The next-gen consoles are *not* general-purpose computers, but rather, extremely powerful media DSPs.

        Arguably they are general purpose computers, their design is just such that they excel in a certain area.

        DSPs are great for a lot of areas, especially graphical work where you can get away with only a minor amount of conditional logic, but a whole metric tonne of pipeline streaming. However, video games tend to be split across all sorts of hardware. The multimedia can always be enhanced with DSPs for sound, DSPs for video, DSPs for artifical music, but what about AI?

        It strikes me that this next generation of consoles potentially ignores one of the key uses for branched logic: Intelligent Machines. AI was getting quite good about the time of Quake (who remembers the Reaper Bot? $$%%$@ thing kicked my ass), but it hasn't advanced much since then. For a *fun* game, better AI may not be necessary. Then again, the entire purpose of enhancing the hardware with multithreaded DSP equipment is to improve immersion. What does it help if your graphics are more realistic than ever, but your opponent is dumber than your two year old brother? (And he just hits random buttons.)

        Perhaps it's time for consoles to begin considering AI hardware, or perhaps a smaller secondary procesor?

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

        I'm not so much thinking of replacing the PC with a game console, but rather adding a strict division of labor. Why should a desktop PC be incurring the expense of fancy gaming hardware when it's just going to be replicated on the console? In the past the answer was that the PC could do a lot cooler games than consoles, especially in the areas of simulation and immersion. But now consoles have nearly as many buttons as a PC (which annoys the hell out of me) and can actually do immersive games *better*. In addition, a console can theoretically be more social than a PC. (Although the X-Box and Playstation don't show it.)

        Just my random musings, anyway.
    • Play ICO on the PS2 (best game ever made)

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

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

      Sony's ICO team is incredible!!!
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:36PM (#12945395)
      "With the next generation of consoles becoming nothing more than computers, what becomes the purpose of having two separate machines?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      "Keep riding the bleeding edge of gaming."

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

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

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

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

      • Preach it! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Paradox ( 13555 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:00PM (#12946037) Homepage Journal
        "Keep riding the bleeding edge of gaming."
        Bleeding edge isn't as safely profitable as rehashing out old games.
        A truer statement you will not find. The truth is that there are masses of people out there who will cheerfully consume large quantities of mediocre content.

        The fact that people are excited about Battlefield 2, which is yet another FPS war sim army-style, just blows my mind. I have a friend who's trying to justify it to me.

        "No, it's great. See, the graphics are amazing, and the netplay is wonderful. Now, you spawn on your team leader, and you all work together. It's brilliant!

        My response, "So it's yet another Doom clone with new spawn rules and a graphics update. Yee-haw. Know what I was playing? Katamari Damacy and Way of the Samurai 2." Trying to explain to him these games, let alone show them to him, is an utter waste of time. He walks out at the title screen, claiming he can't stand graphics so "old".

        It's really depressing, because as long as there are people like him, we're going to see more games like EAInsert-Sport-Here 200X, Halflife 2 (Just like Halflife 1, but more so).

    • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:51PM (#12945515) Homepage
      While I realize that the gaming industry thinks that games are Hollywood productions, I honestly think fun games require nothing of the sort.

      Urgh. Never understood why people thought Hollywood was glamorous or in any way desirable.

      But that's beside the point, which is that those in The Industry want it to be like Hollywood, because somehow that's Grown Up. This Shows that The Industry Has Matured. They want their prestigious awards. They want to be Just Like Movie Directors. It all smacks of insecurity.

      It also smacks of driving themselves into a bloated hole where they now can't *afford* to take risks because the costs of game development are so high.

      There will always be a market for unimaginative, glossy games, and there will always be the bottom line. But to treat this as an ideal is frankly twisted.

      Games are *not* (or should not be) like films. Films are not interactive. Games are. Imagine what the film industry would have been like if Directors had been in thrall to still photography.

      "High production value" cut-scenes are bullshit. They aren't interactive, and they jar with the style of the rest of the game; but they let bloated-ego software developers Compare Themselves To Hollywood.

      If you want to apply production values like that, apply them to the game itself, not to cut-scenes, no matter how well-made.

      Instead of playing wannabe Scorsese, those in the industry should be concentrating on the potential of *their* medium; to allow the player more freedom to do what they want to do (the path it would have been interesting to see them go down), to choose new and different styles of gameplay, rather than the same restricted gameplay in progressively better-rendered worlds. Cut scenes, by their very nature, are going to force gameplay through predefined points. It's all so..... old-fashioned.

      Anyway, enough... yeah, I'm probably getting old, but this isn't so much about romanticisation of the past. It's criticism of the way that, rather than focusing on the way technology could open up exciting new avenues in gameplay, the Industry has concentrated on turning out (basically) the same old stuff, but with ego-bolstering production values.
      • by adam31 ( 817930 ) <[adam31] [at] []> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:07PM (#12946092)
        First of all, if you're going to rant you need some background. It's hugely important that you understand how this Hollywood wannabe mentality started.

        A couple years ago Jason Rubin (of Crash Bandicoot/Jak&Daxter fame) gave a speech about Hollywood that seems to have been wildly misinterpreted. He likened the current state of the video game industry to the packaged goods business. People aren't buying the content of games, they're buying the box. They're buying the marketing, the [evil] publisher. The [evil] publisher wants it that way, they want to remove the public's association with talent from the purchasing of the game... they want consumers to think that all developers are the same and let hype take care of the rest (at this pointed he pointed out that Crash games are still being made, but not by Naughty Dog).

        He then mentioned that if the top 300 game developers got in an airplane and it crashed, the industry would be set back a decade. If the top 300 marketing people fell into the same misfortune, the Industry wouldn't miss a beat. People hooted and cheered at this irony... laid out so eloquently, between where the publishers place the importance of moving products with where the real importance was.

        He then confused a lot of people, talking about Hollywood is the future and getting invited to parties, and so that is what a lot of people walked away with... However, the real crux of the passionate speech was that Game Companies, not publishers, belong in big bold letters on the box. Game development is a talent industry, not a packaged good... Game Designers who consistently design good games deserve the same name recognition and the same selling power as the equivalent Hollywood celebrities, Robert Deniro, Kevin Spacey, etc. with their name Right There on the Box in the same way that Hollywood movies are marketed (And that there are more people making good games than just Will Wright and Miyamoto). Until developers make those demands, publishers will feel free to keep marketing and unloading the same crap on the unsuspecting public.

        • "Game Designers who consistently design good games deserve the same name recognition and the same selling power as the equivalent Hollywood celebrities, Robert Deniro, Kevin Spacey, etc. with their name Right There on the Box in the same way that Hollywood movies are marketed"

          There are some that get their name on the box, like Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Monkey Island), however I do get your point.

          This is why the actors protest [] was so badly received by the games developers, because in a Gam
  • by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:08PM (#12945114) Homepage Journal
    I just want a lazy-susan thingie on the bottom of my new XBOX360 so I can rotate it the promised 360 degrees...
  • This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:11PM (#12945139)
    This just in: PC Hardware site blasts consoles while citing anonymous "sources" and blatant factually incorrect claims (for instance, PPE core = Xenon core).

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

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

    Gag me...
    • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AlgebraicRing ( 472402 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:45PM (#12945464)
      No shit. 2-issue and in-order requires hand tuned coding. Yes there is a whollop for a "cache miss" (fetching out to main mem) on the SPE's of the Cell processor. But there are ways to code around that. Split the local store up into smaller chunks and fetch data to fill the smaller chunks while the SPE plugs away on the chunks filled with data. That's why the SPE has TWO pipes. One pipe is for memory loads, the other pipe is for data processing. echdocs/E815CC047A60914687256FC000734156/$file/ISS CC-07.4-Cell_SPU.PDF [] 5.html [] 6.html []

      If you don't split up the local store, you're going to incurr a 500 cycle penalty while waiting for memory. If you split up the local store, you can fetch to half the mem and process on the other half. This amortizes, if not completely masks the cost of main memory access.

      Correct me if I'm wrong.

      It's up to the developer to optimize their code and ensure that it is being scheduled properly.

      I'd love to hear from a developer that is actually doing everything they can at the low level to optimize data flow. What's their experience with keeping the processors fed with data?

      • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Informative)

        by adam31 ( 817930 ) <[adam31] [at] []> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:58PM (#12946478)
        I haven't developed for either next-gen devkit, but I have done a lot with the PS2, and that is exactly what we do... except we do it with just 4kb on the VU0. And VU0 is only single-ported, so you can't DMA to it while it's running... the only way to feed it with data while running is for the CPU to write directly into its registers. I'm not kidding. And don't even start with complicated memory transfers, if you only knew what we had to do to sync textures and geometry for rendering.

        On the PS3, we get 256 KB of memory with a vector processor running 3.2Ghz, and people are complaining? And we get a bunch of em. Whoever they talked to were not PS2 developers. The same people who made sweet PS2 games will be making sweet PS3 games, trust me. For everyone else it will be harder to get used to.

        For one thing, you can kiss your virtual calls goodbye.

        • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CreateWindowEx ( 630955 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @09:53PM (#12947221)
          From the PA scans I've seen, I would guess VU0 is idle most if not all of the time on the majority of PS2 games, and I suspect we'll see 7 dark SPE's on a lot of the first-generation PS3 titles. ;)

          I do think they must have been talking to PC developers or something, especially when they say things like the original Xbox was limited by a slow CPU and "only" 64 MB of memory. At least when co-developing with the PS2, it felt like the Xbox had gobs of CPU time and RAM, and the limiting factor was fill rate and memory throughput.

          Also, as someone who's written non-graphics VU0 code, to me the SPEs look like a walk in the park. Integer multiplies? We can use C? Read *and* write memory without CPU intervention? Sounds pretty good to me, although of course it will probably be hard to find enough tasks that are a natural fit to the SPEs, not to mention multi-platform issues.

          I remember when we first moved to PS2 development from the PC, and all the PS1 developers were saying how awesome the seemingly crippled PS2 was and I thought they were delusional. Now I feel like an old codger telling the kids how in my day we had to pair our instructions by hand, and we liked it! Actually, I am kind of sad to see the end of the PS2; while I've certainly done my share of cursing at a black screen or a 30 page DMA log, it has been pretty satisfying to pull off all the various hacks you do to get stuff running on a PS2, plus the nice feeling that doing all your graphics straight to the metal without a single library call. I think those days are over, and in ten years, nobody will care that we once got MSKPATH3 to work with DMA call/return or whatever. Such is life.

          • by Otis_INF ( 130595 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:21AM (#12948665) Homepage

            Nothing is more rewarding than fiddling with hardware registers, parallel execution lists and then... finally... get something visually on the screen :)

            reading your post made me think back to the old demoscene days on the Amiga 500. :) I never have written a single statement for a console, but reading about how they're programmed it's similar to old amiga hardware as in: utilize the different hardware to get as much out of it as possible. That wasn't hard, it was FUN :). Good to know there are still people out there enjoying that kind of work :)
    • Re:This just in... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spun ( 1352 ) *
      Thank you, Mr. AC. That was exactly what I was thinking. These "anonymous sources" are grumbling because they don't know how to program for these things. They want to stick with things they know, they are scared of the complexities of multithreading and they are used to having the processor do all the work for them. Sure, the numbers are all hype, but I don't think the situation is as bleak as AnandTech is making it out to be.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natron 2.0 ( 615149 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {97sretepdn}> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:11PM (#12945140) Homepage Journal
    And this is news? The console makers have been doing this for years. Remember when the PS2 was announced and we were told of its "Toy Story Quality Graphics Rendering"? Same thing with the infamous "Mode 7" in the Super NES system. Who can forget the So called 16 bit TurboGrafix 16? As I stated above, the console makers have hyped up every system that has ever been released and all have failed to meet the hype that preceeded them...
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ALeavitt ( 636946 ) * <aleavitt@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:36PM (#12945396)
      The infamous "Mode 7" of which you speak actually added a lot to some SNES games. Remember the overhead levels in Contra 3? Tons of rotating objects in Super Castlevania IV? How about all of F-Zero? All of those games used mode 7 graphics, and it was completely revolutionary to console gamers. I remember my friends and I being blown away by the use of mode 7 in those first generation games, but later on when it was put to better use in Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, and especially Super Mario Kart, they proved that it was more than just an overhyped hardware bell/whistle, and integral to the gameplay of some true classics of the 16-bit era.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:43PM (#12945450)
      ""Toy Story Quality Graphics Rendering"?"

      Well... Toy Story wasn't rendered real-time, after all. Perhaps they were sayin that given enough time it could deliver Toy Story. :)

      "Same thing with the infamous "Mode 7" in the Super NES system."

      Huh? Nintendo Power said the SNES would deliver scaling and rotation. When the SNES came out, we got... scaling and rotation. The only thing that wasn't delivered were game companies that had figured out what to do with it beyond the a/v shows that all launch titles end up being. That took time.

      But even then , F-Zero was a launch title, as was PilotWings. That's a heck of a lot more Mode 7 than the ActRaiser cut-scenes that Nintendo Power focused on at the time.
    • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim Browse ( 9263 )
      Mode 7 never sounded so good in the UK, as it was also the name of the teletext graphics mode of the BBC Micro, a popular home computer of yore.

      So basically, Mode 7 graphics = shit [] :)

  • PPU is the answer. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eunuch ( 844280 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:11PM (#12945148)
    Physics processors came too late for this generation of consoles. This will really put PCs over the top. This should be coming out by the end of the year.
    • Info about the PPU (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:45PM (#12945470) Homepage Journal
      for the lazy: =140 []

      From the link:
      What AGEIA and even game developers envision a PPU will enable for a gamer is a world with physics unlike anything we have seen in a real time game before. We are talking about thousands of rigid bodies, real flowing water, hair simulation, avalanches of rock, clothing simulations and more. Even more impressive is the idea of a universal collision detection system that allows you to interact with absolutely ANYTHING in a game world. All of it calculated in real time with nothing scripted in the game engine.

      Sure you might have seen some explosions in a game you have played before, ones that might destroy an entire building. In nearly all cases, those have been scripted, meaning the debris and fire and dust were all created specifically for that explosion scene. Their motions and reactions were probably all scripted so that they went in a particular direction at a particular time and a particular speed. But what if you could have the option of changing that? What if you could have the explostion of a dam on a river be changed in real time depending on YOUR placement of the explosives? You might place them on the very center of the dam, creating a big hole that water rushes through, or instead you might only use a small amount of explosives to destory a small side portion and let water move out more slowly and let the water pressure be the force that eventually destroys the entire dam.

      Damn. That would be a cool scene, and I didn't even see a demo of that -- just made it up!
      (end of snip)
  • :shocked: (Score:5, Funny)

    by yotto ( 590067 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:14PM (#12945168) Homepage
    Slashdot needs emoticons, if just so we can pretend to be shocked.
  • Sony was hyping up the Cell so much it was almost guarenteed to suck.

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

    Wasn't Sony saying that we'd be sticking Cell processers in everything because they were going to be so great? I seem to recall talk about personal computers switching over to C
    • Well, yes. There were benchmarks being put around suggesting that the Cell would be faster than 4 Opterons or something crazy like that. People were suggesting that there would be 4 x 4GHz Cell CPUs in the PS3. Absolutely crazy stuff.

      I think when Apple ditched PPC architecture, that gave it away that the Cell wouldn't be as good as everyone thought it would be. I'd imagine Jobs would have taken at least a passing glance at it before making the switch,
      • I think that making the leap from "Jobs didn't go cell and instead switched to Intel" to "Cell must not be that good." is an incredible, and incorrect, leap of logic. There is a vast array of other factors involved in that choice.

        It has been clear all along to anyone really paying attention that cell architectures would have a niche market in the near future.
    • I think it'd be idiotic to say that the EE sucks. My PS2 plays games a sight better than my 2GHz p4 (with GeForce MX 440). That's quite impressive considering that the PS2's CPU is running at a clockrate nearly 7x slower, and its GPU is running at about half the clockrate. Of course, you're also ignoring the fact that after many years of work, game developers have been able to get the EE to perform reasonably close to its theoretical peak.

      The "Cell is overhyped" thing is complete nonsense. These consoles w
  • More hype (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tktk ( 540564 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:15PM (#12945182)
    From the submission: get what you pay for.

    We don't know what any system will cost.

    • Re:More hype (Score:5, Informative)

      by JonN ( 895435 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:26PM (#12945306) Homepage
      It is true that they have no released a MRSP for the next-gen consoles however Merrill Lynch business analysts have placed their estimate for the PS3 at $399USD. What makes this interesting is that it has been expected that each system will cost Sony $494 to build. The full article can be read here [].
  • News? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:19PM (#12945234)
    Microsoft, Sony Promise Sun, Moon, Failt to Deliver! Film at 11!

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

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

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

    So far, the only system that has games for it I know I will like is the Revolution, if only for the "download old ROMs" aspect. Especially if Sega gets in on the act as they've been hinting.
  • Moderation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:21PM (#12945252) Homepage Journal
    We need a 'Duh.' rating.
  • HDTV gaming, lag? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by otis wildflower ( 4889 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:34PM (#12945373) Homepage
    I know some people who run current-gen consoles thru scalers (or use their HD set's scaler) have issues with lag: microseconds between when a controller is actuated and when the effect is displayed onscreen.

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

    Presumably, the next gen of consoles (along with decent GPUs in general purpose computers) will not have this issue since their output resolutions bypass scalers. However, some of the upcoming 1080p sets (Samsung at least) will not take 1080p via their HDMI inputs, so they'll deinterlace 1080i internally, and beyond picture quality concerns this may impact when it comes to lag. Or, use their RGB ins and suffer from D->A->D conversion.
  • by nobodyman ( 90587 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:39PM (#12945419) Homepage
    On one hand, I'm not surprised by this. Console makers always hype their consoles to near-obnoxious levels (with the exception of perhaps Nintendo, but even they hyped the N64 as an "SGI workstation in your living room" at one e3). Sony and Microsoft have not changed their tenor since their last iteration (Sony: "Oh no, PS2 is *so powerful* the US might consider it a weapon!" Microsoft: "Check out all of these dynamically lit/shaded ping-pong balls... and this is only at at 1/5th power!!").

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

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

    It's still a really good article and worth checking out, but I'm not surprised in either direction.
  • by devphaeton ( 695736 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:44PM (#12945455)
    Seems to me like all the games that were first out of the gate for the PS2 and XBOX were designed to wow with graphics. Great visuals, but weak and one-dimensional gaming.

    Problem is, it seems to have shifted the whole mentality of game developers. Games seem to look good first, but play good second. On a whim i put away some of my PS2 titles and dug out the old PS1 stalwarts. The original Driver was still a kick in the ass. Breath of Fire III was amazing. FF7 was good, Grandia was good. For kicks i fired up my old K6-II and played older versions of Sim City (2K and 3K), Stronghold, Age of Empires, C&C were all so much more fun. It wasn't nostalgia either.

    Paper Mario seemed like a great game too. The graphics were nice and clean, but not overly extravagant. But it was still a great game build up from many simple concepts. Just like the old days.

    I hope that the hardware *does* stagnate, and maybe devs will stop writing 500 lines of code to control breast jiggle in the next Dead On Arrival and instead brainstorm some ingenuity into the games instead.

    It doesn't have to wow me with graphics. Wow me with fun!

    • Just to be a little pedantic:

      The D.O.A in DOA2 DOA3 DOA Ultimate, stands for "Dead or Alive" :)

      My friends and I played WAY too much DOA2 a few summers back. We can still hear the theme music when we go to sleep.

      Speaking of breasts in said games, if you increased the 'Age' statistic on the female characters (up to the arbitrary value of '99') their breasts grew in size. Nice one Team Ninja!
    • I hope that the hardware *does* stagnate, and maybe devs will stop writing 500 lines of code to control breast jiggle in the next Dead On Arrival and instead brainstorm some ingenuity into the games instead.

      Are you kidding me? I hope they spend more money than 500 lines of code on the breast jiggle... For my $50 I expect them to hire a top plastic surgeon to describe how the perfect breast should jiggle to the development team and developing a patentable breast-jiggling algorithm!

      Dear God man! There a
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:45PM (#12945468) Homepage
    Not so much because of its average-case power, but because of what happens when you pull out all the stops and optimize some game like crazy for it. Look at the PS2-- really weak machine in a lot of ways, but when someone who knows how to really harness the hardware makes a game for it you periodically get an Ico or Metal Gear Solid 3 or something where the graphics just absolutely blow you away. The Cell looks to have the same tweakability features of the Emotion Engine, only times like a thousand.

    I also want a Cell just, like, to play around with. They say Linux is running on this thing? Awesome. I just want to play with the microchip and see what I can get it to do. OK, yeah, I'm something of a compiler junkie. Blah :P
  • by NYTrojan ( 682560 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:51PM (#12945514)
    Nintendo has been pretty honest in the past as to their actual performance specs... and if what they say about being roughly 2 to 3 times more powerful than the cube is true, that puts them neck and neck with the XBOX360 and PS3.

    That along with the ability to download old games makes me, if anything, more excited for Nintendo's new offering than the phony specs for XBOX and PS3 ever did.

    now we just have to hope that they don't pull.. well a Nintendo and do something totally freaky with their controller. To be honest, I have high hopes.
    • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:36PM (#12946322) Journal
      I hope they do do something freaky with their controller. I want a reason to buy a new console besides the fact that developers will stop making games for the older ones.

      The graphics of any particular game are only important to me for about the first five minutes. After that, it's all gameplay that matters. I still play Advanced Wars 2 on my GBA, almost every day, and the graphics suck. Putting it on a more powerful system wouldn't make it any more fun. Paying hundreds of dollars for more Mhz isn't appealing to me anymore. I don't want shinier or faster games, I want new types of games. I want something that couldn't be backported to the previous generation of consoles just by toning down the number of polygons in each model and turning off a couple of the advanced lighting features.

      If a new, wacky controller can help bring us new gameplay, then I'm all for it. I hope that whatever Nintendo does, it's new, it's different, it's well thought-out, and it drives some ideas. I hope it leads to a bunch of smaller, more independent studios making games for the Revolution that won't work on the other consoles. I want a company to offer me an experience that no one else is.

      Sony and MS are busy trumping up their own system, while at the same time bad mouthing the other's. But really, they're both the same. Some of the hardware has different names printed on it, and slightly different specs, but they both basically offer the developer and gamer the exact same thing. Which is the exact same thing that the last round of consoles offered us, just more powerful. Big whoop, we've been getting that from consoles and computers for the past two decades. I want something new.

  • Speculation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slyckshoes ( 174544 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:56PM (#12945548)
    AnandTech is talking like they've had access to both consoles and have tested extensively when it's all hearsay. You don't say things like "Although both manufacturers royally screwed up their CPUs..." on hearsay. It is extremely unlikely that MS and Sony would both be stupid enough to "royally screw up" on something so important to them. They also imply that IBM is stupid (or evil?) for selling MS and Sony on their inferior product. I find it extremely unlikely that one person over at Anandtech is smarter than Sony, MS, and IBM.

    Also, as the article stated, the platforms were designed for extensively multi-threaded games, but no one is writing games that way. So... why are they surprised that it's (supposedly) slow? If I put the bread on top of the toaster it takes a lot longer than if I put it in the slots. That doesn't make my toaster slow, though, it makes me an idiot.
  • by Roland Walter Dutton ( 24395 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:58PM (#12945562)
    (No body but this.)
  • by Sark666 ( 756464 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @06:06PM (#12945630)
    This article really seems to take the wind out of their sails regarding what's being boasted 'under the hood' and what it's actually capable of doing.

    But I look at a game like doom3 running on a xbox. Yes it's low res and yes I read their changed some of the levels so there isn't as much draw distance (like removing a window from a corridor etc).

    But still, it's doom3 running on what is a 733 mhz cpu with ONLY 64 megs of ram and doing a pretty good job of it.

    Whereas my p4 1.6 with only 128 megs of ram (really need to upgrade) and a gf4ti4200 runs doom3 like shit. Downright unplayable. Heck I wish I could have the xbox version of doom3 to run on my pos system.

    My point? Well, history has shown that the developers will eventually make these systems do tricks that no one initially thought the systems were capable of. But the pc is such a moving target with so many configurations that we don't see near as much optimizations.

    But I'm a pc gamer for life and mainly cause I hate exclusive agreements and would love to see these systems be a disappointment. :)

    I miss the days (snes/genesis) where only 1st party titles were exclusive (mario vs sonic) and with pretty much all other titles it was may the best console win.

    How much do they offer these developers to only play on one side of the fence? I think one of the biggest first exclusive agreements was tombraider on the ps1. But what I always liked was the pc was ignored in these agreements. Doesn't seem to be the case these days. Cough, halo, cough. And I'll never forgive the developers dropping the pc with the oddworld series. Ok way OT now I'll stop rambling.
    • The Doom 3 box says it requires 384MB of memory, which you have a third of, so of *course* it wasn't playable. For the console version they downscaled all the textures (which take tons of memory) so that it would fit, plus the stripped-down OS. That's in addition to turning the detail settings way down. If you had a reasonable amount of memory, Doom 3 would look much better on your computer than on the Xbox.

      And Doom 3 is not and never was CPU bound on the PC; its reputation for high system requirements is
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @06:07PM (#12945639)
    One of the biggest limitations ended up being the meager 64MB of memory that the system shipped with.

    One of the most important changes with the new consoles is that system memory has been bumped from 64MB on the original Xbox to a whopping 512MB on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. For the Xbox, that's a factor of 8 increase, and over 12x the total memory present on the PlayStation 2.

    One of the biggest limitations was the 64mb of memory - clearly too little. Now, five years later, they've increased that by a factor of 8.

    *quickly does sums on fingers*

    4.5 years = 18 months x 3

    Didn't some guy come up with a rule about this? (My local library was all out of copies of that issue of the magazine)

    2^3 = 8

    So, five years on, they've managed to about keep pace with historic advancement, being relatively no better than the 64mb that was widely regarded to hamstring the last generation of consoles?

    Sure, right now, 512mb sounds great... But then 64mb sounded good five years ago too.

    HalfLife2's High Dynamic Range lighting model is expecting to need one to two gigabytes of system RAM to work properly. Sure, PCs run with a clunky OS but it's not that bad. Battlefield 2 needs 512mb minimum and prefers 1gb.

    Five years ago, console fanboys dismissed PC gamers when they pointed out 64mb might be nice now but would barely cut it in two years and seriously hamstring the console in 4-5 - the lifecycle of a typical console. They were wrong then.

    Now, five years later, all they've done is up that hamstrung amount in accordance with Moore's law and, once again, it seems fine for a console's release and is going to be a major issue well within the system's lifespan.
  • by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @06:37PM (#12945875) Journal
    As the girlfriend of a guy with an Xbox 360 under his desk, I'd like to post what little I've observed of this machine.

    Now, I'm no hardware wiz, so I can really only comment on this from the perspective of the average non-techie gamer, but... I've played the new (ie. unreleased) Need for Speed on the thing, and I must say that it looks damn sweet. Sure, maybe the article's right and the machine doesn't perform as well as it should, but as a gamer, am I going to notice the limitations? Is my gaming experience going to be impacted by this? Probably not.

    Basically what I'm trying to say is that while the article is certainly interesting to the geek in all of us, saying that the processors are "Not Up To Hype" seems a bit too sensational given that the only people who will notice these minor failings are the developers who, one would hope, already know about them.

  • by grimharvest ( 724023 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:30PM (#12946290) Journal
    So basically while seeing a lot of "this is bullshit" comments, we're not seeing any comments from anybody who really knows or has worked with either of these two platforms. Instead, we're seeing people more willing to believe MS and Sony who have everything to gain from lying about their products vs. a more realistic view of two over-hyped machines by a website who will attract viewers to their article whether they say good things about these two consoles or not. It really will make no differenc to Anandtech. People will come to read their articles because they've earned a readership so they've no real motivation to make stuff up or distort things.

    Admit it people, some of you just don't want to hear what they're saying. Had they said that the PS3 does put out 2 teraflops and the XBox 360 only one, then you could have simply continued on with the normal console flame war which has been going on since E3 ie 3 cores vs 7 SPEs, etc. Then of course, there'd be doubters from the other side accusing Anandtech of being on the payroll of MS and Sony.

    Look at the motivation people. Think about who's really got cause to BS the console gamers.

  • by tcc ( 140386 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:34PM (#12946314) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but I've found the opening paragraph in the article quite condescending and below what I would expect from anandtech.

    If his "source" doesn't make use of the 3 cpus (cores) of the Xbox, well, he's just showing he can't code multithreaded or simply that he lacks either the will, the budget or imagination on how to use this extra juice to offload some calculations. I'm sure some other gaming companies won't.

    I can see why some are bashing on specific core enhancements such as vector units which aren't boosting overall performance by much (it's still arguable; people at sony wouldn't put these features in if they weren't going to help for something) but bashing against a powerfull CPU that has itself multiplied by 3 fitting in a single die, cmon. Anyone who's doing 3d today and got himself a dual AthlonX2 machine will tell you how much he gained compared to if he would have been using a dual cpu setup (as opposed to dual cpu with dual core). 180% increase clock per clock depending on the type of scene and renderer would be a conservative estimate.

    Granted this isn't the same, cinematic 3D and realtime 3D is 2 completely different beasts, but bashing on something because you use only 1/3rd of what's given to you, it's just too easy... it's like someone bashing on an athlonX2 while benchmarking it under windows 98 (singleCPU support).

    I agree that marketting overload people with hopes (and lots of border-line BS), but still, grand tourismo 4 TODAY would be awesome on these machines, you'd have extra juice for simualtion, and could actually have higher resolution and antialiasing instead of looking like an "almost cool" game which lacked the juice to live it's full technical miracle.

    If the coders of this game (GTA4) are their anonymous source, I'll gladly eat my socks, but I bet you 10$ they've coded something like tetris (I can be condescending too ;) ).

    People with the brains will know how to make good use of this technology, developpers who just code and compile without doing research on new technology don't even diserve this much (anonymous) exposure

    my C$0.02

  • by AzraelKans ( 697974 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:46PM (#12946408) Homepage
    Gamespot recently released an article explaining exactly the opposite. 31.html []

    The anandtech article aparently is talking about the developers kit which (According gamespot) is not as fast as the "final" ps3 (or xbox 360 for that matter).

    Who to believe? well at this point, you can believe anything you want. The coin is still in the air. Although considering the actual prototypes shown (not CGI or demos) Im going to take a wild guess and think they are just going to be as twice as poweful as modern consoles not 10 times as hyped.
  • by Fulg0re- ( 119573 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @10:03PM (#12947285)
    It's no wonder that Steve Jobs et. al. decided not to pursue the Cell microprocessor for Apple's future! Most likely, Apple compared it to the G5 and Intel CPUs and found its real-world performance to be significantly lacking.

    Indirectly at least, this article basically demonstrates why Apple decided to go Intel.

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