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Inside the Games Machines of the Future 180

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-remember-to-port-tetris dept.
UtahSaint writes "Electronic design, the guys who nicely opened up the iPod a couple of weeks back take a look into the future of gaming - covering everything from the PC to the Gizmondo to the upcoming Xbox 2 and Playstation 3 next-generation units. If you want to get more of an understanding as to where we're heading, this is not a bad place to start."
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Inside the Games Machines of the Future

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  • by strider44 (650833) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:15AM (#11743965)
    I'm more interested in wondering when the new XBox and Playstations will run linux or hacked proggies. */me hugs his xbmc*

    It's funny how many people I know don't even think about using XBoxes for actual gaming.
    • It's funny how many people I know don't even think about using XBoxes for actual gaming.

      Dunno about big numbers, but I've got a couple of mates who eye my XBox up covetously every time they come round, with the words 'cheap linux box' on their lips...

      bastards
    • If you're not going to use it for gaming, why not just buy a cheap computer. You'll get a much nicer box than the XBOX, I'm sure.
      • 1) You must be new here.
        2) The Xbox has pretty good video output, an acceptably fast CPU and enough memory to get things done, a dvd-rom and a hard disk, 10/100 ethernet, and takes up fairly little space. It costs $150 brand spanking new and about $120 used. It has an nVidia video card (only useful when using the XDK, admittedly) and pretty good sound hardware. Show me another PC with all that for the same price. Remember, it has to take up the same amount of space as the Xbox, or less, and have Composite
  • by sammyo (166904) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:18AM (#11743988) Journal
    do we get total immersion? I want the total holodeck in my embedded (in my spine) iGamePod, just tap a spot on my chin and I'm deep in the game, who cares if everyone on the bus sees me twitching and drooling as I blow away those monsters...
    • What ever happened to the powerglove, sega vr, and virtual-boy? It seems that when game makers move away from the tv and controller based games, they flop.
      • Re:When oh when (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Thyamine (531612)
        Bad marketing, overpriced hardware, and not enough of a push of real development for the products. I know that the VB was supposed to have a devoted (?) following but beyond toying with it at a display in Wal-Mart, I never had any urge to own one or play with it again.

        It's quite possible that something like the powerglove could bring us to a new level of UI, but you need some amazing game to help bring it mainstream. You need a Halo or a Myst or something along those lines. A game that makes the new ha
    • you're not too attached to your wallet.
    • who cares if everyone on the bus sees me twitching and drooling as I blow away those monsters...

      You don't need total immersion for that. All you need is a GBA...
    • No thanks! Thanks to eXistenZ I know what happens when you do that!
  • PS2 = 6.2 Gigaflops? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by windowpain (211052) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:19AM (#11743998) Journal
    Can this be true? This five year old machine has that kind of processing power?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Can this be true? This five year old machine has that kind of processing power?

      Yes. You see there's this slight disparity between what we call "Theoretical Specs" and this other thing called "Real Life".

      Allow me to demonstrate, using the PS2 as an example:

      Theoretical Specs
      The PS2 can render 75 million polygons per second with FSAA. It will be years ahead of any other hardware available. People will buy hundreds of them and turn them into Supercomputer clusters for simulating nuclear balsts!

      Reality
    • by faragon (789704)
      Yes, it is true. Still running at ~300MHz (294MHz), the PS2 achieves a great paralelism grade: R5900 @300MHz, 2xVU's @300MHz; the whole thing is able to perform 10 FMACs per clock cycle, while 1 FMAC is equal to 2 FLOPS (floating point multiply + acumulate), then you have 20 FLOPS/cycle @~300MHz gives about 6 GFLOPS. There is no secret, you can prove the performance by yourself using the Linux kit available for the PS2, but remember, if you want to reach the 6 GFLOPS... using the gcc isn't enough, you have
    • Yup, thats what the specs for the PS2 say. From my understanding its really hard to achieve this in practice, and then only by programming some routines in assembly, and having the right data flow.

      Anyways, just for fun, google for xbox gflops to see what some people claim that system can do. I've seen claims of up to 120 Gflops for an xbox. Xbox GFLOPS [google.com]

      • I'm not about to go look into it but assuming you count the Xbox's GPU I would guess that you can get quite a bit of raw performance out of an Xbox. It's just not as easy. Naturally the CPU can be used for rendering graphics, but also there are now techniques for using the GPU for general purpose processing. How much computing power is there supposed to be in the PS2's GS chip?
    • This five year old machine has that kind of processing power?

      Sure. Some people even built a computing cluster out of them [uiuc.edu]. But actually getting that performance in practice is really difficult. I saw a presentation online once that indicated real games seldom if ever get more than a fraction of that.

  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:19AM (#11743999) Journal
    What would really be neat is if there was a way to let a console and PC communicate via high speed interface.

    So for instance you could run your console game within a window on your PC (or full screen). Or take advantage of the PC's network interface or mouse/keyboard.
  • Terrible Fluff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zeromous (668365) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:19AM (#11744005) Homepage
    Not exactly the most factually correct article:

    In a flip-flop of sorts, Microsoft recruited ATI Technologies to come up with the graphics processor for its next-generation X-Box. (ATI supplied the graphics for the PS2, while Nvidia provided the graphics for the original X-Box.)

    Wait..Didnt you just say ATI supplied the chip for Gamecube?

    It also mentions that the ps2 does antialiasing on the gpu. Now I may be mistaken- sure it *CAN* but no one actually does this for performance reasons. Its much more efficient to use a VMU or other hardware tricks to perform something like anti-aliasing on the PS2.

    Take this article for what it is- mindless fluff about nothing in particular except the present and future of videogaming - *yawn*

    Wake me when the PS3 arrives.
    • You are correct. No one does FSAA on the PS2. The Xbox has it in the GPU too (standard nVidia stuff) but no one uses it there, either. I wouldn't be surprised if some games used it in cinematics on both platforms, though, as in a cinematic sequence you have complete control over polys, culling, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    and that is with the current system specifications!

    The PS2 lost the Firewire port in an update. The PS2 'mini' has an ethernet port. The XBox still has a hard drive. The XBox processor doesn't give it 6.4GB/s, that is the chipset by having a dual-channel DDR controller.
  • Dedicated game peripherals, available for either game consoles or PCs from QMotions, replace keyboards and game controllers and let players use real sports equipment for actual full-motion player participation. The Batter-up game combines sensors to replace the keyboard/joystick activation of the swing along with adjustable sleeves packed with additional sensors that can easily accommodate standard wood, metal, or plastic bats. Foot-controlled buttons enable the batter to control head-first or feet-first sl
  • Supposidly; PS3 Specs -Cellular Processors - powerPC -8 APUs - Vectorial Processors each with 128K memory -System will run at 4GHZ or 256Gflops -1024 Bit switched front side bus -64MB of switching memory Obviously not pc standard, but pritty darn good!
  • by Council (514577) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `eornumr'> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:23AM (#11744039) Homepage
    What's really needed now is a one-hand glove for interacting inside the physics engine. With physics only slightly better than HL2, the mouse-only interface becomes pretty cumbersome. The big revolutions in the near future should be in physics engines, and we're gonna need better interaction.
    • No offense meant but when I read your first sentence I instantly thought about some nerd jacking off with one hand while touching 3D boobs with is other hand in a Sony RealFeel (TM) glove. ;) I know I am sick but that picture is damn funny I think :).
  • you will see things that look like this [osu.edu].
  • by Willeh (768540) <rwillem@xs4all.nl> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:25AM (#11744066)
    For an article that supposedly showcases "The future of gaming", their current fact checking leaves something to be desired. Afaik, the latest revisions of the xbox still have a harddrive inside. The fact that the XBOX 2 will likely not have one, is not one of cost cutting, but presumably a measure to cut off rampant piracy that is going on with the current iteration. Also the choice for the PPC platform adds credibility to this theory.

    Also, the DS supports pseudo surround sound as showcased by Mario DS. Before that, a company called Q-sound made it possible to have pseudo surround via the same phase shifting techniques. And there is no guarantee that ANY of the things mentioned get used somewhere down the line (The machines themselves being subject to constant changes in architecture).

    • Yep, it's the next XBox that MS were thinking about releasing without a HD as standard. Have they finally made a decision on this? I thought it was due to costs rather than piracy concerns. The HD in the current Xbox simply provides a cache for game data which is faster to access than a dvd. If memory serves me, the developer can copy up to half a megabyte of data to the HD if required. I'm not sure how this has been exploited for piracy...?

      The author has gathered a huge pile of miscellaneous statistics an
      • half a megabyte? typo?

        it's exploited for piracy in a fashion that you can use the hard drive to store the games and launch them directly from there. they load up faster and you don't have to shuffle around with dvd's.

        you download the game - and then just ftp it straight to the xbox's hard drive and start the game. EXTREMELY convinient, so convinient that if i owned a xbox i'd mod it just to be able to do this(with bought games too).
        • Don't forget emulation. It's trivial to download practically every console game ever made but who has that many originals in any condition?
        • Feh.. yes, that should have read "gigabyte".

          Still, the point I was attempting to make was that games use this space for caching data, not completely installing to. I'm guessing this requires at least some kind of patching to the Xbox system software to allow entire games to be copied and executed from the HD alone. This in itself risks detection and banishment from online services, which are a major part of XBox gaming.

          HD or no HD, there are still going to be ways discovered to pirate software. The HD in
          • The last rumors I heard were of a flash memory system to replace the hard drive. This would solve the problem of being prone to damage and also could be made proprietary to prevent the piracy problem.
            The reason the hard drive helps with piracy is that you can replace the 8Gig model with a standard IDE drive of larger capacity. Yes this requires modding the Xbox which opens you to the possibility of being banned on Xbox live (although modern mod chips have a mechanism where you can turn them off).
            With the mo
      • > Plenty of facts, some true, some incorrect, but there's an overwhelming lack of
        > any substance to the article - no conclusions, no added insight, no comparisons
        > - a bit of a pointless read all round.

        If you don't like blogs don't read them...oh, I see.
      • most modded xboxes store thier games on the hd. It's quick and easy and not eveyrone had a dvd burner. The HD makes it redicoulously easy to store pirated games.
    • They also have an out of date pic for the DS, the old E3 model they have a pic of looks noticeably different than the production model.
  • by HardSide (746961) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:26AM (#11744076)
    The article was nice and all, but it basically summed up everything most gamers already know, those people who have been out of the loop, the article is a good read. As for the future of games and the people that play them...one word...'generic' The average player who been playing games since Idsoftware release of Commander Keen find just about every game that been released in the past 5 years very generic, its always the same formula, if the storyline is different, the plot is the same. Fable for the xbox was suppose to change that, it was said to be the game where you pick either 'good or bad' unfortunately whichever you pick in the game you still get the end result and the ending, nor the game is different from whatever path you choose. Then we had Doom 3 that was released in 2004 by idsoftware, sure it was 'spooky' and 'creepy' some say, I mean the average review in a pc magazine or online boards said its probably the scariest game ever released. The average gamer however found that eyecandy doesn't make the game, and cute little monsters jumping from walls isn't enough to excite a old time gamer. So whats the future of gaming if you ask me? There is no future, eventually we will hit the pinicale where either a game changes its true environment and play style everytime you play or eventually games will die out.
    • There are many futures of gaming. Essentially anything that entertains and captures the attention of the masses will still be around. I suspect you'll see more variety in gaming as it becomes more mainstream, with niche downloadable games for people with various tastes.

      I think our current lack of variety in the big games are due to publishers being risk-averse. Notice all the sequels out there. When you know a previous game sold well, you don't want to change things much. Look to mod developers and
    • Yes, I agree with you on most terms.
      The problem is that there is no real breakthrough in gameplay anymore, and the question is are we gonna see something really innovative in the future ? I think the problems are indeed with the software and not the hardware:

      Problem one is the increasing conglomerates of software houses. Making games more of business then an art, obvious example is ofcourse EA games. With it's main franchise existing of "recycling" games (especially with it's sports games).

      Problems two
  • My Future Console (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Space_Soldier (628825)
    The article is pure speculation. They have no way of knowing exactly what the future will bring. Will the XBOX have a cell processor, or will it have a standard one? They don't know, neiether do I, but judging from the past, it will probably have a standard one; they chose PIII last time. While I own a XBOX now, my next system will probably be Playstation 3 because Microsoft is too draconian with their hardware, especially with XBOX Live and mod chips. I love XBMC, and I need that chip to run it. I'm
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:49AM (#11744263)
      While I own a XBOX now, my next system will probably be Playstation 3 because Microsoft is too draconian with their hardware..

      Whereas Sony are the paragon of free thinking, copyleft supporting anti-materialism?

      How do people manage to delude themselves to this extent? Is there some drug you can take that surpresses all critical thinking abilities?
      • Is there some drug you can take that surpresses all critical thinking abilities?

        Quite a few, actually, and I am lead to believe that a great many of them are readily available.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sony actually released linux for the PS2. Hopefully they will for the PS3 as well. Sony also doesn't try to control how people use their PS2s online-- just buy the adapter and it's all free to use.

        Now, Sony ain't no angels, sure... and their media companies are as bad as any. But SCE isn't going to try to shut you down. Remember when Ken Kutaragi admitted [news.com.au] that Sony had made a mistake in allowing its media division to stifle its computer division, and promised to correct it? Honestly, I think SCE real

  • Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichardX (457979) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:49AM (#11744264) Homepage
    What a crappy article. It's riddled with errors - the PS2 has lost harddrive support in it's redesign, not the Xbox, the original gameboy used Z80 not ARM and more.
    Best one has to be their claim that Nokia systems run on "Sybian". No. They run on "Symbian". Sybian is something VERY different, as you'll find if you do a google search for it...
    • Re:Wow (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by IdleTime (561841)
      No the "sybian" is correct for Nokia when you turn off the sound and turn on vibration!
  • Consider the MP3 (and Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, etc.). Defining and distributing a way of storing music changed the market. We are no longer as concerned about media formats becoming obsoleted or what's going to replace them in the future (mini-disk anyone?). Heck, now the required media has been reduced to memory (Ipod, etc.)

    The thing is, when you buy a console, you're pretty sure that, in a couple of years, it's going to be obsolete. The manufacturers know it too so they sell the consoles at a loss hoping to
    • Which is why the Phantom will sell like hotcakes. /sarcasm
    • Doing this would destroy the single most beneficial part of console gaming: optimization. Since most consoles don't even have an operating system, just some drivers, there's nothing running but the game. Xbox has an embedded Windows in it, so almost nothing but the game is running. You would still have to perform optimizations. Also, it would require standardizing on a single CPU (or at least instruction set.) Not acceptable. Console gaming would turn into the bugfest that is PC gaming overnight.
    • You've lost most of the advantage of consoles though.

      They just work. You don't have to install and OS, you don't have to worry about cards and spec because they are all the same. PCs vary way too much.

      They aren't PCs. They are a small box (well, maybe not the XBox ;) ) that lives under the TV by the DVD player. You don't need keyboards and monitors, you sit in a big comfy chair and just need the controller and TV.

      I can't see a gaming OS for a PC winning over console games. PCs are always going to me m

  • by Shadow99_1 (86250) <theshadow99@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @11:24AM (#11744611)
    I'm not sure what they are smoking, but the had all sorts of errors in that 'article' (& I use the term loosely here). things like:

    "Microsoft has since removed that drive to lower system costs." huh yeah that xbox I bought a few months back doesn't have a HD? I'm pretty darn sure it does...

    "ATI supplied the graphics for the PS2, while Nvidia provided the graphics for the original X-Box." Huh when did Ati build a graphics chip for Sony? I'm pretty sure that should be nintendo...

    Their are more, but the slashdotting has begun and I can't seem to get back to the second page... But really their were dozens of errors in this thing...

    So...

    Move along, nothing to see here...
  • What a poor article. I'm not sure why this was even posted here. Questionable portions are in quotes followed by commentary: "With CPUs running at several gigahertz plus a high-performance video card or two, PC gaming is now just as lifelike as its console-based competition." This might have read better if the author had declared that such a PC will give a good idea of the power of next-gen consoles (in particular running tech such as the unreleasd Unreal 3.0). "When it first appeared in 1996, the Nint
    • What a poor article. I'm not sure why this was even posted here. Questionable portions are in quotes followed by commentary:

      "With CPUs running at several gigahertz plus a high-performance video card or two, PC gaming is now just as lifelike as its console-based competition."

      This might have read better if the author had declared that such a PC will give a good idea of the power of next-gen consoles (in particular running tech such as the unreleasd Unreal 3.0).

      "When it first appeared in 1996, the Nint

      • "Wow, the original Game Boy, released in 1989, uses a 32 bit ARM7? I'm not into the cell phone market, so there's no telling how much of that information was false."

        The Gameboy at that point used a Z80 cpu. The ARM cpu did exist in 1989, though it was just the 32 bit ARM2, which you'd usually find in Acorn Archimedes [old-computers.com] series of computers, the A3000, A540 and A4 laptop. The ARM7 showed up later [answers.com].

        The history of the ARM CPU is so much more than just a heart for cellphones! It's just a shame Acorn never made a
    • You've pretty much hit the nail on the head - the factual errors abound. A simple Google by the author would have cleaned the article up immensely.

      Incidentally, the ARM series of processors isn't exclusively cell-phone - they were developed by the British Acorn Computers to run their RISC OS-based Archimedes series of computers.

    • The Sony system was one of the first consoles to include a DVD/CD optical drive...

      Nope, it was THE first. When in doubt, use "about". If you're too lazy to look up the correct information anyway.

      Eh? I bought a Commodore CDTV in early 1991 (me and about six guys, world-wide). Console. CD based.

      After that, the Philips CDi (Oh, shiny! Tetris with animated backgrounds!) in... late 1991? Then Commodore CD32 in 1993 (All the games of the Amiga! And ...nothing more.)

      Also, CD add-ons for Sega Megadrive (Cr

  • Future of Gaming? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shaper_pmp (825142)
    "The XaviX cartridge houses the dedicated game functions, and it is inserted into the XaviXPort to play... At the heart of the XaviX system is a custom multiprocessor chip deployed in each game cartridge. Thus, the XaviXPort never has to be upgraded--the game itself is the upgrade."

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't that how cartridge-based systems have worked since the year dot? I certainly remember Nintendo making a fuss about ugrade chips in the first Starfox game, and that came out as far back as the
  • WARNING -mod me up. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @12:43PM (#11745482)
    Do not read the linked article. It:

    1.is full of errors.

    2.does not talk about the next gen cosoles.

    3.is poorly written, researched and generally a waste of time.

    Anyone who even remotely follows gaming will spot the errors on the first pass, there's a ton of them. They guy has absolutely no fucking clue what he is writing about.

    Does Taco read the articles he approves? If he did and still thought it was good, HE MUST BE A REAL DUMBASS. Really. Pathetic.

    Way to waste people's time slashdot. I'm outta here. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
  • How could 140+ comments be made without someone catching this:

    Along with a 5× DVD drive for game loading and video playback, initial versions included an 8-Gbyte hard drive to improve startup time. Microsoft has since removed that drive to lower system costs.

    MS has removed the harddrive? First, not only were some of the hard drives actually 10 gigs (though software-limited to 8), every Xbox has a hard drive shipped - even the one that I will get when one more person completes the offer in my signat

  • ...totally reminds me of Jackie Harvey on the onion [theonion.com]!

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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