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IBM Hardware Entertainment Games

IBM's Radical Cell Processor 298

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

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  • by Vivek Jishtu ( 905067 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:33AM (#14470470) Homepage Journal
    With Apple no longer buying chips from them, they really need to prove themselves.
    • by Mad_Fred ( 530564 ) <fredrik.bjoreman@com> on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:45AM (#14470497) Homepage
      They do? Last time I looked, IBM processors were inside all the current "next generation" consoles. To me, it looks like IBM is the surest winner in the next/current/upcoming (pick your perspective) round of console wars. As an AC already pointed out, Apple mus have been a really low-volume customer for IBM, and probably a picky one at that.
    • ...as the summary states.
    • Come on it has to be a joke. If the PS3 OR the 360 OR the Revolution wins then IBM will be the one selling the chip that is inside it. The various game companies may have to subsidise the hardware or sell it at cost but you can rest assured that IBM is doing no such thing. They sell the chips for hard profit.

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

      One of the reasons Apple is switching to Intel is that IB

    • by uncleFester ( 29998 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @09:01AM (#14470647) Homepage Journal
      With Apple no longer buying chips from them, they really need to prove themselves.

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

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

    • by talornin ( 745646 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @09:12AM (#14470668)
      Acutaly, no.

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

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

      (Just for the record: This was posted from my darling PowerBook! I am a Mac user and an Apple fanatic! So this is _not_ Apple-bashing, just a statement of facts!)
    • by Heembo ( 916647 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:15PM (#14471468) Journal
      PowerPC on mac was a small blip on IBM's radar. PowerPC is SMOKIN' in the embedded space. Apple leaned on IBM hard about increasing chip speed, pricing, irregular purchase numbers, etc. Losing apple was a relief, IBM can now get back to the **very** profitable business w/o Apple's 2 cents.
  • Emotion Engine! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fussili ( 720463 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:35AM (#14470475)
    **Outside the Sony Booth being handed fisherman's waders**
    [Gabe]: What are these waders for?
    [Tycho]: My guess? All the bullshit

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

      by MoonFog ( 586818 )
      No matter how good the Cell processor is, what about the GPU? Even though it's just rumours at this point, isn't their graphics card pretty much similar in specs to the one in the 360?
    • Re:Emotion Engine! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
      I don't know why you are being castigated or being labelled some sort of fan boy

      But you are exactly right, the PS2 was supposed to herald a new CPU architecture that would be in every PC by now.

      I do hope it's true this time.

      I'm tired of this architecture, I want bang for buck to live somewhere new for a while, jig things up a bit.

      A shift in the industry would diverting the world's national product into the hands of the fittest.

      Who will have OS's and applications ready the soonest for a radical shift like th
    • From a pedantic point of view, Sony has only released two consoles so far. How can you say they've lied out their ass about 3 consoles? Is it because you somehow know the new one doesn't measure up? Is it your special fanboy sixth sense that gives you the ability to know that?

      Additionally, I don't remember PS1 being a disappointment at all. Toshinden was ready for PS1 at launch in JPN, and look great. It played well too, but it had 3-d fighters and 3-D backgrounds. By the time the US PS1 launch rolled aroun
      • Damn, my latest batch of modpoints expired last night, otherwise I'd mod it up more.

      • The PS1 was technically inferior to the Saturn in a few ways. Sprite power for one. The Saturn could handle 200 individually rotating and scaling sprites on screen with no slowdown. The Saturn also had more VRAM, which is why all the 2D fighting games were much better animated on the Saturn. (All of Capcom's ports). The Saturn also had internal save space, the PS1 forced you to buy memory cards. Toshinden ended up on the Saturn a year later, although ported poorly. Dead Or Alive showed us that the Saturn wa
        • Yeah, it did some 2D stuff better. I never saw Alpha blending done on Saturn. Every game I saw used stipples (patently obvious if you used the S-video output, but low-pass filtering on the composite output hid it). I know Alpha blending was possible because the Saturn had much more CPU power than the PS1. You could surely have gotten on of the SH-2s to do some blending.

          Internal memory on the Saturn was not a good thing. It meant you couldn't take your save games over to a friend's place. It also meant when
        • It does, however, make a good show of the different design philosophies of the two system's developers. The Saturn was aimed at 2D graphics. The Sony Playstation was aimed at 3D graphics. Not surprisingly, each was better at the market they were aiming at.

          I'm surprised that you mentioned Dead or Alive. The Playstation version had quite a few upgrades from the Saturn and Arcade versions. So many, in fact, that Tecmo ported the Playstation version back to the arcade as Dead or Alive++.

          Saturn's 2D tra

      • Sony isn't the only one planning on using Cell. IBM plans on selling Cell servers [theregister.com].
  • by sirstar ( 789206 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:36AM (#14470476)
    So, does this mean the PS3 will have more games based on movies?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:36AM (#14470478)
    Forbes has recently posted an article on IBM's new revolutionary Cell

    Damn, the enemy within. I can't believe they've infiltrated IBM. Is nowhere safe?
  • oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:38AM (#14470487) Homepage
    >Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality game


    more like:

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

    nothing to see here...
    • Re:oh really? (Score:2, Informative)

      by lsw ( 95027 )
      I have seen a detailed analysis [events.ccc.de] at 22C3 of the Cell and it's impressive. Really, by any means. But the maximum gains will be achieved only after a few years/months after the PS3 is out and not in graphics but in AI, physics simulation. Also it looked very well if you're a blade server user, but you'll have to tweak your apps. It's a multicore and does not care about backward compatibility.

      The slides of the presentation can be downloaded from http://gustav.informatik.tu-chemnitz.de/~htor/sec [tu-chemnitz.de]
      • Great article - here are some of the hardware details:
        [Quotes from "The Cell Processor - A short Introduction" [events.ccc.de] by Torsten Hoefler - bracketed comments are mine.]

        A single Cell, essentially a Network on Chip, offers up to 256 GFlop single precision floating point performance.

        A prototype was produced with 90nm silicon on insulator (SOI) technology with 8 copper layers (wiring). It consists of 241 Million Transistors on 235 mm^2 and consumes 60-80W. ...

        The Power Processing Element (PPE) [1 per chip] offers the
    • Funny, considering that Sony and others have been saying this same stuff since back when the 360 was still in development...
    • No, it's true. PS3 games will boast graphics on the same level as the cyberspace scenes in Johnny Mnemonic, sound as good as the effects in the original Star Trek series, acting on par with the Bloodrayne movie, physics whose quality matches that of those in The Core and the same kind of high-quality writing found in masterpieces like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Manos: The Hands of Fate or Toxic Avenger.

      Yes, the Cell chip even changes the writing of the game, it's that good.
  • Movie Quality? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FinchWorld ( 845331 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @07:49AM (#14470510) Homepage
    Cell is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics.

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

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

    • Re:Movie Quality? (Score:3, Informative)

      by SnprBoB86 ( 576143 )
      "we are quite along way away from an affordable processor than can replace a render farm"

      Very true, but I think you do not fully understand real-time graphics.

      Render farms are general purpose computers engaged in grid computing where the method is escentially "throw as much power as possible at rendering". Rendering packages such as Renderman use very sophistocated, realistic, and GENERAL techniques. Games and other real-time graphics applications, on the other hand, utilize SPECIALIZED techniques that are
    • The "render farm" for Star Wreck is in the kitchen [starwreck.com]. Look down the page or click here for image [starwreck.com]. Looks like four of five PCs to me and if that's all it takes, an eight processor cell can do it. Will it go real time? I don't know, but the reviewer saw for himself.

  • by javaDragon ( 187973 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:05AM (#14470539) Homepage
    More information about the Cell processor directly from the source : The Cell project at IBM Research [ibm.com]
  • by Azreal ( 147961 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:09AM (#14470545)
    I'd say almost everyone is in agreement that the Cell processor is a very powerful design, but I don't believe the PS3 will be the best example of what it can really do.
        Sifting through what I've read about the PS3, the Cell processor is bottlenecked by a few things including but not limited to memory bandwidth, and a fairly generic pc graphics solution from nvidia (by generic I mean, one of their standard pc products tweaked slightly for use on the PS3).
        The "movie quality" games that I'm assuming the article is referring to are the demos shown at places such as e3, which are nothing more than either pre-rendered movies or carefully programmed, high end pc demos (Epic demo with high end pc and 7800 sli config).
        I'm not trying to disparage the ps3, nvidia, or IBM. Frankly, I'm a fan of Nvidia and the Cell processor and I truly believe (drm jokes aside) the ps3 will be a solid console, but I think saying that the PS3 with Cell, "...is going to enable PS3 developers to create movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics" is misleading, ignorant and sensationlist journalism.
    • I expect "movie quality games" will refer to the pseudo AI processing used to determine the positioning and articulation of things like the hordes or orcs in the lord of the rings films, rather than the rendering quality (although, in a "never the same render twice" situation, I'm sure the next crop of consoles will have background scenes that look just like movies - but the foregrounds probably won't).
    • You're saying the PS3 can't make "movie quality" games because it's leashed with a run-of-the-mill PC graphics chip. Then you say even the demos are overblown because they're shown on run-of-the-mill PC graphics chips.

      I don't get your drift. The graphics chip in the PS3 is expected to be an NVidia 7800 equivalent. That's a lot of power. At 1280x720 and 1920x1080 this puppy should scream.

      As to your comments about choked on bus bandwidth, that's all directly from the mouth of MS. MS added up the sum total of
  • um? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ikea5 ( 608732 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:11AM (#14470552)
    movie-quality games with blazing-speed graphics.

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

    • Re:um? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Lunch dates with your PS2? I think you have a lot more to worry about than Sony talk...
    • ...but this time they really, super mean it!
  • 30 hour movies? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Excors ( 807434 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:11AM (#14470555)

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

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

    • Re:30 hour movies? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cowscows ( 103644 )
      There are middle ground games that don't opt for realism, but at the same time aren't quite as "artsy" as something like Rez. The important thing is to get something that matches your gameplay. Viewtiful Joe(sp?) is a decent example, although the "art" concept was pushed even a little bit much here.

      I'm reluctant to bring up Nintendo and all their Mario games, because people like to pick on them for using their franchise so frequently, but I generally enjoy all the mario games, and they've definitely got a w
    • Sadly, most gamers plug in to escape into an artificial reality, not into a genuinely imaginative experience.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who wants to develop games that are the quality of holywood movies...?
  • PS3 Un*x (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:15AM (#14470565)
    I guess we will be seeing Cell in servers at some point as well, though not as cheap as in a PS3.
    Sony probably won't want anyone to run Linux on the PS3, lest geeks start cranking out PS3 server farms, but hopefully Sony will leave enough backdoors so can we can see the PS3 run Linux (or FreeBSD, or some beta OpenSolaris distro). Knoppix running on the PS3 just about removes the need for a home computer.

    Hopefully Sony will create such a backdoor. I mean if they can screw up with a rootkit...
  • by adyus ( 678739 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:22AM (#14470577) Homepage

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

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

    (Oh, yeah, I forgot: "well if they'll be the same quality as some of the movies Hollywood pumps out recently, I'm not buying it...")
    • I believe they may be talking about CG movies when they talk about movie quality video games. Whenever I hear it used they seem to imply that eventually we'll be able to play a computer game that is able to render graphics as good as say Shrek 2 in real time at playable speeds.
      • Well, I seem to recall that either the PS2 or the Xbox (or was it an nVidia graphics card) was supposed to be able to deliver 'Toy Story' quality graphics, so it only makes sense that the unfulfilled promises this time around are updated to a more recent movie.

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

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

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

      Metropolis frame [unesco.org]

      This is a low-resolution ca
  • I N F O (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrEcho.net ( 632313 ) * on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:31AM (#14470591)
    If you want to read more about the CELL heres a link for you...
    http://www.research.ibm.com/cell/home.html [ibm.com]
  • by Cybro ( 880749 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:42AM (#14470608)
    Since the first cell product is already shipping. http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS3591350722.html [linuxdevices.com] we should be able to benchmark the processor pretty soon and find out if it is all a hype or this really is the second coming :-)
  • I'm not really sure but I think the Cell chip is mostly the work of Sony (at least the basic idea).

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

  • King Kong took how many scores of computers to render? There's no chance the cell processor will be able to do what King Kong looks like in real-time for gameplay, sorry Sony.
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @09:10AM (#14470661) Homepage

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

    They also mention Linux on page 2.
  • by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @12:01PM (#14471180)
    I hear it also will cure cancer! Go Sony!
  • Just what we need. More uninformed Cell zealots that don't understand the Cell's weaknesses. Even better, they'll be management types that can't be reasoned with because they don't understand anything past the word "parallelism".
  • by MagikSlinger ( 259969 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @12:57PM (#14471385) Homepage Journal
    My friend at a video game company has been saying everyone much prefers working on XBox 360 than the PS3, and the biggest complaint is no one really knows how to write the high performance code Sony boasts about. Also, he says Sony's developer support has gone down hill and Microsoft has been bending over backwards to help developers working on 360 games.

    Anyone else in the game industry care to confirm/refute this?
    • by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:16PM (#14471733)
      Well, the support and tools for the Xbox have always been top notch. The PS2 was abysmal, but since it was selling well everyone went through the pain. I remember the first PS2 dev kit we got, half the documentation was in Japanese still. The support from Sony was horrible. This time around the support for the 360 is about the same as the Xbox and Sony seems a bit better, but the PS3 is a beast an info is only trickling out on how to get things done on it.
  • I know, I know, RTFA, but when I read the blurb on the front page of slashdot containing the following phrases:
    new revolutionary
    create movie-quality games
    blazing-speed graphics
    PlayStation 3
    100 million homes in five years
    usher in the next microchip revolution
    prowess to a microprocessor called Cell
    chip wizards at IBM

    I get the sick feeling that the article has a more then slight bias, and I will get no real information from it.... but thats just me
  • Hmm...

    The new PlayStation will be revolutionary... it will mark a breakthrough in computing power. It will cook your dinner. It will smite your enemies. It will do your job for you.

    It's the same absolutely false and empty promises they hyped the PS2 with -- which, incidentally, killed off the Dreamcast. I have trouble believing anything about any Sony product now until the thing is actually in front of me.

  • Sony said the same thing about the PS2 (toy story quality real-time renders), and we all know how it turned out (looks great to be sure, but nowhere near Toy Story quality). The cell's strength is the sheer amount of parallel processing units, and it's weakness is that each *individual* unit is underpowered by today's standards. Currently, game makers are not the best multi-threaded programmers. If they can make the transition from 1-2 threads to 8 threads, then this will get interesting. If not, then the P
  • Not going to happen, especially at an introductory price of $500+ The PS3 will sell well, but it will also cost Sony a fortune to subsidize it for a few years. Unlike Microsoft, Sony needs their game division to be profitable ASAP because it's one of the few divisions they have that makes money right now. So, Sony needs quite a few killer apps right out of the gate to help soften the blow of eating a substantial amount per console sold.

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