13 posts • joined Wednesday 13th February 2008 12:44 GMT
The Playstation 4 will be released quite soon
I am confident that the Playstation 4 will be released quite soon. However, it will not be a next generation console. Instead its reason for existance will be to cut Sony's manufacturing costs. The cost saving will be achieved through the use of at least 512 Mb of cheap DDR2 memory in place of the slightly faster but very expensive 256 Mb of general purpose memory in the Playstation 3.
The reason for my certainty is that the only new document to appear in the whole of 2008 in the IBM Cell Processor web site was:
This document includes helpful bars which show what has changed since the previous version. Pretty much the only change is to add an on-chip DDR2 memory interface to the Cell processor.
What I am also hoping is that the yield of the Cell processor chip is now so good that the number of Synergistic Processor Elements avalable for game writers or linux programmers will be increased from 7 to 8 in the Playstation 4.
From talking to a Sony employee I think that Sony once had plans to greatly increase the number of SPEs in the Playstation 4. However, a lack of funds has forced the Playstation 4 to be redefined as a cheaper to manufacture Playstation 3.
A problem that developers currently have in porting games from the XBOX 360 to the Playstation 3 is that XBOX 360 games are written to use the full 512 Mb of general purpose memory in the XBOX 360. It will be easier to port games from the XBOX 360 to the Playstation 4 because of the Playstation 4's increased general purpose memory capacity.
Is C++ available on Android based netbooks?
I understand that the only development language available on Android based mobile phones is Android Java.
If it was possible to write C++ applications for a mobile phone then hackers could use them to hijack the phone. By limiting the phone user to Java applications it is possible to ensure that applications are suitably constrained by the Java vistual machine.
Unfortunately many users of Android based netbooks would want to write high performance C++ applications such as games. These users might be disapointed by the restrictions of running Android on their netbook.
There are lots of new PSP titles being written in Japan
The PSP is selling very well in Japan. This means that lots of games are still being produced. The only downside is that they are rather odd Japanese games.
Another way to read this article is that Sony will continue to shrink the PS3's ICs and so make the PS3 no more expensive to manufacture than the Wii.
I would happily buy a PS3 to run Linux and to play games for £150. I suspect that Sony will be forced to bring out a new PS3 slim and lite before Christmas to compete with the XBOX 360.
I also suspect that SONY have a Wii style controller in development. Microsoft will have a Wii style controller on sale before Christmas which will put SONY under even more pressure to cut the cost of the PS3.
The PS4 will be as cheap as a Wii
The following Japanese web site states that a major design goal for the PS4 will be to shrink the PS3's ICs and so make it no more expensive than the Wii:
And here is an (automatic) translation:
"As for loading onto ●PS4 the developmental type CPU of Cell B.E.
SONY [konpiyutaentateinmento] (SCE) next term game console
PLAYSTATION 4 (PS4)”, has begun real examination with the direction which is made the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell B.E.) architecture base.Presently, you infer the reaction of the game developer, you are said that it is the stage which searches concrete mounting.SCE, when in the PS4 generation production cost is lowered from the PS3 generation, simultaneously, seems that aims toward the road which development investment is held down by the fact that it continues architecture.
Also the possibility SCE leaving from Cell B.E. with PS4 being still left, it enters, but for the present, it is seen that it is moving with the direction which designates the expansion & the revised edition of Cell B.E. as the base.
SCE at the stage which PS3 project materializes originally, had planned the fact that it continues Cell B.E. architecture even in the generation after PS3.Betting enormous cost on because of that, it developed Cell B.E. as the CPU architecture which withstands the development which crosses the long period of time.The original conception of PLAYSTATION which is the Cell B.E. base was magnificent ones which finally distributed computing with respect to network were inserted in range of vision.
It is seen the plan of present PS4 is visible, in order from the fact that Cell B.E. is designated as the base, to be close to the extended strategy of originally PLAYSTATION+Cell B.E., but that inside that to tell the truth it differs completely.In order to hold down the investment to hard and the software, Cell B.E. it is the story that it develops PS4 in the base.Already if Cell B.E. and software stack on that and the investment to the tool which do enormous investment, it is possible, we would like to succeed, it is thought that is the aim of SCE.In current SCE, as the time of PS3 probably there is no sufficient room which does the development investment of the same scale, even in the following generation.
In addition, it is seen that with PS4, you hold down also the scale of the tip/chip, itself you face to the direction which reduces production cost.But past with PLAYSTATION of 2 generations, concerning 2 tips/chips of main, the die/di (semiconductor itself) approximately 200 squares mm the high performance of large-sized size, high cost you started with the tip/chip, with process refining the tip/chip shrank and you took production cost and the strategy which reduces price.But, it is estimated that in the PS4 generation, in order low to oppose to Wii of cost, from the first machine it reduces production cost with the small tip/chip, reduces also selling price."
The Crew Exploration Vehicle could fly sooner on top of a Delta IV
Around 4 years ago Boeing proposed that the Delta IV Heavy be used to launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) into Space. The use of an off the shelf rocket such as the Delta IV would have greatly reduced the effort in placing the CEV in Space and I think would have enabled the CEV to be launched into Space shortly after the last Shuttle flew.
Unfortunately saving money was the last thing that vested interests wanted. The congressmen for those states heavilly involved in Shuttle manufacturing wanted to ensure that those states make the new Orion hardware. This means that the CEV and the later Lunar exploration hardware will be launched into Space using a Frankenstein's monster constructed of bits and pieces of Shuttle hardware.
It may be that a new rocket design is needed to get back to the Moon but the obvious question is whether there is any need to send men back to the Moon in the next 20 years. If US manned spaceflight was confined to Earth orbit then probably 50% of the entire NASA budget would be freed to send unmanned orbiters and rovers all over the Solar Sytem.
It is worth considering the fact that if you divide the yearly cost of the Shuttle program by the number of Shuttle flights then the cost of each Shuttle Flight comes out as around one billion dollars. This implies that each Hubble servicing mission costs around one billion dollars. Shuttles are regularily used to service the Hubble despite the fact that the cost of sending a brand new Hubble telescope into Space using a conventional rocket is only 250 million dollars.
I haven't been called sonny for 40 years and so I guess I should regard it as a complement.
My point is not that I am clever enough to work out the architecture of the PS4. My point is that a leading games industry figure and employee of SONY told me that the number of SPEs was due to rise (in a public lecture).
I did a trawl of the internet last night and have discovered that I am no longer the only person who thinks that the number of SPEs is due to rise. I discovered the following post in "ps4forums.org":
"Here’s some technical information on a possible new cell chip for the PS4. We’ve heard about the Cell 3 chip with 32 SPEs and 2 PPEs, well it seems IBM are due to change all that. The new possible chip now is the design is 32 SPEs and 4 PPEs (see page 10).
Some features of the new chip:
100% backward compatible
Performance on PPE significantly better
Performance per SPE equal or better
Significantly better on applications that benefit from new instructions
Better inter-SPE latency
More on-chip memory
Better main memory latency and bandwidth
Apparently IBM are aiming for 1 TeraFLOPS of performance with this new chip. To put that into perspective the current Playstation 3 Cell chip is only capable of 204 GigaFLOPS.
The new cell is projected for around 2010/2011, with 2011 rumored to be the year we’ll see a PS4 release…coincidence?"
I have no idea if "ps4forums" is a reliable source of information. However I found similar specs in several other internet sites last night.
It also makes sense that the number of SPEs in the new Cell chip should be a power of 2 and not 20 as I had guessed.
My experience of ASIC design is that it is easy to increase the number of serial controllers on an ASIC. Most of the work is done by the ASIC design tool. I am sure that increasing the number of SPEs in a Cell processor would be equally straight forward.
@James Billingham SPEs + Linux
The SONY man may have been refering to the PS5 when talking about 100s of SPEs.
In the PS3 Cell processor only 7 of the 8 SPEs on the chip are connected. This was done to improve yield because the chip would be usable even if one SPE was faulty. In the PS3 one SPE is dedicated for use by the operating system which leaves only 6 for use by PS3 game developers. I think that the yield of Cell processors has improved and so if required the number of SPEs available for game developers could be increased to 7 tomorrow.
I also think that a Cell processor with 20 SPEs could easily be produced using current technology because this would only require a doubling of the number of transistors on chip.
The SONY man was adamant that as many SPEs as possible should be used not only for graphics but also for Physics, AI and sound. Reading between the lines I think that he was hinting that game developers should start thinking in terms of using at least 20 SPEs on each Cell processor.
I think that SONY has been slowing down development of the PS4 to focus on short term profitability. One indication of this was selling the Cell manufacturing plant to Toshiba. None the less I think this has done no more than to perhaps delay the release of the PS4 from Christmas 2009 to Christmas 2011?
I must admit that my suggestion that the PS4 would have more main memory was based on posts in the IBM Cell developers web site that suggest that IBMs own Cell based systems offer many times the performance of the PS3 due to the IBM systems having more main memory.
I wonder if there is a mod the can be made to a PS3 system board to give it more main memory?
The PS4 will feature a new cell processor with 100s of SPEs
I attended a talk on game development given by an employee of Sony last year. In this lecturer the developer said that it was possible to write higher performance games for a PS3 than for an XBOX 360, However the key was to run code on all 6 avaliable Cell processor SPEs. He said that this would be increasingly important in the future because future Cell processors would feature "100s of SPEs".
I am therefore confident that the PS4 will feature more than 100 SPEs. An individual SPE only occupies a very small part of each Cell processor die. I therefore think that according to Moores' law a Cell processor featuring 100s of SPEs could be manufactured well before 2011.
My suspicion is that the PS4 was due to be announced this year and that plans to release a PS4 were shelved to ensure that SONY's Playstation division became profitable this year.
I suspect that the only difference between a PS3 and a PS4 will be a Cell processor upgrade and more system RAM and that this would make upgrading existing stocks of PS3s to PS4s very easy.
I think that the new Cell processor in the PS4 will run at the same clock frequency as that in the PS3 (3.2 GHz) to ensure backwards compatibility with the PS3. I also think that there are games manufacturers who are currently developing PS4 games using existing PS3s with upgraded Cell processors.
Laptop CPUs may be being sold into Embedded CPU market
Intel and other semiconductor manufacturers sell many more CPUs into the embedded market than into the computer market. It is therefore possible that most of these low power laptop CPUs are being sold to be included in products such routers, mobile phones, fire alarm systems and set top boxes.
I once read that 95% of all microprocessors are sold into the embedded market.
Highlander believes that if the Cell processor is upgraded in the PS4 then the upgrade will be to clock the Cell processor at a higher frequency and not to increase the number of SPEs. I think that this is unlikely. This is because I understand that doubling the clock frequency of a processor increases the power consumed by a factor of four.
A far better use of that extra power would be to quadruple the number of transistors in the Cell processor chip. This is the approach that intel has take with Core Duo processors where extra performance in gained by increasing the number of processors on the chip and not by increasing the clock frequency.
I extimate that quadruping the number of transistors in the Cell processors chip would increase the number of SPEs from 7/8 to around 40.
According to Moore's law the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months. It is therefore perfectly possible to imagine a Cell processor with 40 SPEs being available 3 years after the manufacture of the original Cell processor.
IBM Cell processor documentation does not specify the number of SPEs which indicates that future Cell processors will most probably include more SPEs.
The PS4 will have 30 times the supercomputer performance of the PS3
I attended a public talk by a Playstation 3 (PS3) games developer in which he said that future IBM Cell processors would contain hundreds of Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). He did this in order to emphasise the importance of using as many SPEs as possible when writing very high performance games.
It is a reasonable assumption that the PS4 will contain hundreds of SPEs. In PS3 Linux only 6 SPEs are available to the user. If I assume that the PS4's Cell Processor will have 200 SPEs then this would imply that the PS4 will perform scientific calculations around 30 times faster than the PS3.
Note that I am assuming that the PS4's Cell processor will be clocked at the same frequency as that in the PS3 to ensure that PS3 games will run on the PS4.
I attended a talk given by a PS3 game developer in which I was told that future IBM Cell processors would contain 100s of Synergestic Programming Elements. He mentioned this fact in order to emphasise the importance of making increasing use of SPEs if one was to produce competetive high performance games.
If future Cell processors run at no more than the current clock frequency of 3.2 GHz then this has the implication that existing games would work without any problem on the future Playstation. The only limitation would be that the games would not be making full use of the 100s of SPEs in the new Cell processor.
Another snippet of interesting imformation from this developer is that he said that Java might replace C++ in future game devwelopment despite the inefficiency of BYTE codes. He said that the reason for this is that it was easier to generate parallel code for SPEs in a Java compiler than in a C++ compiler.
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