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IBM Technology

Cell Architecture Explained 570

IdiotOnMyLeft writes "OSNews features an article written by Nicholas Blachford about the new processor developed by IBM and Sony for their Playstation 3 console. The article goes deep inside the Cell architecture and describes why it is a revolutionary step forwards in technology and until now, the most serious threat to x86. '5 dual core Opterons directly connected via HyperTransport should be able to achieve a similar level of performance in stream processing - as a single Cell. The PlayStation 3 is expected to have have 4 Cells.'"
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Cell Architecture Explained

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  • Seeing is believing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:40AM (#11429627)

    It's not like we haven't heard it before. It usually turns out to be halfish-truish for some restricted subset of operations in a theoretical setting, you know where you discount busses, memory and latencies.

    • by aphor ( 99965 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @11:35AM (#11432093) Journal

      No, this sort of architecture is a general trend towards paralellization. It is smart, and it is known to work, and I would expect some bright Sparc wise people to chime in and say "u-huh" and some SGI wise people to chime in and say "I've seen some of this before." The OS people [] are starting to move things in this direction, and I've heard that Darwin has had the asynchronous messaging type threading model for a while (RTFA: the article explicitly mentions Tiger's GPU leveraging techniques). If you have the head for it, try reading up on NUMA and compare that with SMP.

      The math is simple. CPUs are CPUs, and anyone can make one that is the same speed as the competition, and if they do it second they can do it cheaper. The guy that can make 20 CPUs work like one CPU that does 20 times the work in a given time will win because he can always just throw more hardware at the problem. The SMP guys have to go back to the drawing board. In this case, the only way to beat-em is to join-em. Maybe doing the specific "Cell" computing design isn't it, but the ol' PC is dead. If these things start hitting the commodity price-points.

      That's a big, fat IF. So, don't bet on it (yet), but it's even worse to ignore it.

      • by Raunch ( 191457 )
        Then perhaps some of those bright people can shine some light in my direction.

        Caches work by storing part of the memory the processor is working on, if you are working on a 1MB piece of data it is likely only a small fraction of this (perhaps a few hundred bytes) will be present in cache, there are kinds of cache design which can store more or even all the data but these are not used as they are too expensive or too slow.

        APU local memory - no cache
        To solve the complexity associated with cache design
        • So then they abolish the cache.
          Caching: CPU > cache (1 or 2) > main memory > HD
          and then implement another system that is *completely different*
          Non-Caching: APU > local memory > main memory
          Now first off, how is it different?

          Let me take a vaguely educated guess.

          Currently the cache managers in x86 CPUs "predict" what part of the memory space is needed. This prediction isn't always that good, and efforts to make programs hint to processor what to cache haven't worked good enough (or at leas
        • by be-fan ( 61476 )
          The local storage is different for the following reasons:

          1) It must be programmed differently. Instead of just accessing memory how you want, you must explicitly copy the part of memory you need at the moment. So, if your APU is acting as a vertex shader, you need to copy the shader code into the LS before you start processing. Essentially, the LS can give you the time savings of a cache, but you have to manage it yourself to get the benefits.

          2) Since the LS isn't managed by the hardware, it doesn't need
    • What nobody has objected to is the IBM claim [] that the architecture has:

      On-chip hardware in support of security system for intellectual property protection.

      Much of the curent discussion has been on how to program and coordinate all the little digital signal processors (DSPs - aka DPUs). I think these questions are moot because the envisioned DRM (digital rights management) will make the "cell data" and "cell programs" uninspectable. Even by the the on-chip PUs (processor unit - something like a power-Mac ru

  • Yeah, but can my inkjet print them?
  • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:42AM (#11429635) Journal
    a DBZ reference: "Part 4: Cell Vs the PC"
    • by goodbadorugly ( 837673 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:12AM (#11429760)
      a DBZ reference: "Part 4: Cell Vs the PC"

      The 45 episode saga in which:

      Bill Gates becomes a cyborg and summons the forces of evil.

      A new Cell is constructed out of unsold Itaniums (Not to be confused with the Cell built by Sony, which is a friendly robot that is found out to be good. ( Until he is found out to be evil when the heroes notice he is under the control of the cyborg Bill Gates who has been behind the charade the entire time) and challenges the world to a rematch of earth shattering proportions

      Second string characters have meaningless conversations that take up entire episodes

      There is hilarious comic relief from common citizens in various towns as their cities crumble around them

      Krillin dies

      The dragon is summoned

      Goku gets a haircut ...Good lord I should have my anime viewers license revoked for knowing all that crap.
  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:45AM (#11429646) Homepage Journal probably is.

    was the ps2 the supercomputer it was said to be...?

    the author goes on to suggest that cell workstations would smoke x86 counterparts.. but says at the same time that there probably wont be that many of them.

    wtf? though in-between the lines you can read at the end that he also thinks a single g5-cpu workstation would 'smoke' x86's...
    • was the ps2 the supercomputer it was said to be...?

      I don't remember Sony making any big statements about the Emotion Engine being a supercomputer. What I do remember, is that when they released the clock speed of their processor, people knew the relative power of the PS2. From what I see of the Cell architecture, I can guarantee that the Cell is much more powerful than any AMD and Intel processors.

      It seems like you didn't read much into the technical aspect of the Cell architecture presented in the l
      • Don't you remember the stories about the US trying to stop Iraq and China getting their hands on PS2s because they were "super computers" and could be used to develop weapons or crack encryption? It was a very clever way of hyping the PS2 at the time.

        In reality though the US definition of a super computer was out of date, and by the time the PS2 was released the top end x86 CPUs were also technically super computers.
    • by CoolGuySteve ( 264277 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:00AM (#11429895)
      When it was released, the Emotion Engine in the PS2 actually would have been pretty wicked for supercomputing applications if Sony had sold a version with faster interconnects and more RAM. The processors in the PS2 are designed almost entirely to crunch vector operations, which is what most scientific codes rely on. It's really an excellent computer, it just sucks at graphics. The 4MB of uncompressed video memory and lack of hardware texture support are particularly ugly.

      I suspect that the main reason there was never an Emotion Engine based cluster product was because the high performance market is tiny, especially compared to the console market, and Sony was already having trouble meeting demand with their exotic chipset when it first came out.

      Anyways, I think the guy does go overboard about this new architecture. It probably will be a lot faster than PCs at certain tasks but you can only fit so many transistors in a chip. The cell stuff is cool though, it seems to fit a lot better with what most computers spend their time processing unless you're doing a lot of compiling or database operations.
    • fanboy article (Score:4, Insightful)

      by egarland ( 120202 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @10:49AM (#11431588)
      This was not a technology article. That was a "I for one, welcome our new cell processor overlords.." article.

      I don't see anything in the cell arcitecure that would fundamentally make the same number of transistors at the same speed operate faster. I see lots of bottlenecks, IO overhead and wastet transistors. If there is some magical powerful thing that these can do SO much better than the current X86 instruction set and hardware, guess what, it'll adapt.

      x86 adapted to RISC being "wildly faster" and, in the end, became better RISC than RISC was by translating more memory efficent X86 instruction onto a RISC backend. It adapted to SIMD (Single Instruciton, Multiple Data) efficiency issues by adding MMX/MMX2/SSD/SSD2 and 3DNow. It adapted to the reality of 64 bit address space and the need for more registers with the new X64 instruction set extensions. AMD and Intel could add cell hardware and instructions too if they offered anything special, which I highly doubt they will.
  • by hyu ( 763773 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:47AM (#11429657)
    Something that has always confused me in gaming consoles is that, despite incredibly powerful hardware (processors, graphical chips, etc.), the system developers seemingly always neglect to put in enough RAM for most games to perform to their potential. Many PC ports often have portions compromised due to the lack of RAM, and system speeds also suffer because of this.

    Seeing how RAM is increasingly becoming cheaper, is it possible that new systems like the PlayStation3 might be able to provide RAM that actually allows games to reach their potential along with this new cell hardware?
    • Actually I find the opposite to be true. Take for example an Xbox, which is basically a PC from about seven years ago. (Sub gigahertz P3, 64megs RAM, GeForce3 video)

      But it plays all the popular games of today's PC with little to no lag. Where as you need a very high end PC to play the same game!

      This is mostly due to the fact that the architecture with the video is more direct, than it is on a PC. There's no AGP bus, or any bottle neck to access video ram. It's more direct which is probably why an Xbox
      • But then an Xbox is only running at 800x600. LOL

        Actually, it is running at 720x576 (a PAL XBOX that is) but I don't see why this is so funny, because that's just the resolution of a PAL TV. Having a higher framebuffer resolution would probably only decrease the output quality when displayed on a normal television.

        That said, if you have an HDTV, the XBOX can output at 1920x1080i...

        Your sig is mine
      • Take for example an Xbox, which is basically a PC from about seven years ago. (Sub gigahertz P3, 64megs RAM, GeForce3 video)

        I would *love* to know how you had a P3 and a Geforce 3 in 1998. I had to make do with a brand-new top-of-the-range PII-350 with a Matrox Mystique and SLI-ed Voodoo 2s. Did you pull the Geforce through one of these parallel universe wormholes?

      • Take for example an Xbox, which is basically a PC from about seven years ago. (Sub gigahertz P3, 64megs RAM, GeForce3 video) But it plays all the popular games of today's PC with little to no lag. Where as you need a very high end PC to play the same game! This is mostly due to the fact that the architecture with the video is more direct, than it is on a PC. There's no AGP bus, or any bottle neck to access video ram. It's more direct which is probably why an Xbox can perform as well as a current PC rig.

        • One more thing I realized I should have put in the above post, the XBox does NOT have the same performance as a high-end or even mid end PC of today. Textures have to be of lower resolution, this is easily seen for instance on Knights of the Old Republic.

          Less main memory on the XBox also mean smaller levels or less content on each level. Unfortunately the cost of creating different size or content for two platforms is so expensive time-wise most developers just choose to design for the XBox and let PC user
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:50AM (#11429672)
    I'll believe it when I see it. Sony made outrageous claims with the PS2 in the year or so before launch, I see no reason to believe this will be any different.

    On paper an Emotion Engine was supposed to destroy everything, but achieving maximum throughput was difficult and other contraints such as I/O and memory hampered performance. Programmers had to learn a very different way of programming to make full use of the processor and it's two vector units.

    A Cell might be a killer chip on paper, but real-world hardware with I/O latency and memory contraints will bring things down to a more reasonable level. Don't forget that multiprocessor programming is *hard*.

    Hopefully, developing software for Cell chips will be easier then the early days of the PS2, Sony has already said as much a few months ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:56AM (#11429692)
    Quotes from article:

    "GPUs will provide the only viable competition to the Cell but even then for a number of reasons I don't think they will be able to catch the Cell."

    Did this guy forget that NVidia is designing the GPU for PS3? If Cell is so almighty, why does Sony uses NVidia GPU instead of using more Cells for graphic prosessing?

    "There is another reason I don't think Nvidia or ATI will be able to match the Cell's performance anytime soon."

    Of course, Cell based products won't be available anytime soon either. According to the current rumors, PS3 will be available in Japan in Spring 2006 and elsewhere in Autumn 2006. One and half years equals a generation in the GPU world...

    I love this kind of articles where some future products are compared against current ones and declared as a clear winners...
    • >Did this guy forget that NVidia is designing the GPU for PS3? If Cell is so almighty,
      >why does Sony uses NVidia GPU instead of using more Cells for graphic prosessing?

      One possible reason is the cost. When you can save a large area in a silicon die by using a specilized DSP, why do you waste some processing power in a CPU? nVIDIA can provide a reasonablly efficient solutions such as texture units and pipes toward more specific types of processing. Cost is everything, when you manufacture millions of
    • First of all, as another post says, the GPUs contain a video controller, DAC and so on. Second, the Cell will still be able to accelerate graphics performance by doing all kinds of vector pre-processing. Last, it will be a lot more easy for software companies to build PS3 games fast if they have somewhat the same computing/graphics environment as on a x86. Reasons enough, I think.

      But what struck me most is that you seemed to have missed the whole point the authors seeks to make. Yes, Moore's law will doub

  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:03AM (#11429718)
    This sounds like a little PVM-cluster-on-a-chip. It also sounds like it's a pain to program and will, in the short term, suffer from the same problems that Intel's Itanium suffers from: it tries to push too much work on the compiler or software developer.

    In the long term, it's nice that companies are exploring these kinds of architectures. It's not nice that they are trying to monopolize what are pretty straightforward architectural choices with patents. This may be a new CPU, but there is little that is new about having a bunch of fast processors interconnected via a reconfigurable network; these just happen to be on the same chip.
  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jacco de Leeuw ( 4646 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:04AM (#11429720) Homepage
    85 Celcius operation with heat sink

    Well, perhaps "cool!" is not the correct response...

    • +1 Funny btw :D

      On a serious note, The cell misses the point, we don't NEED any more CPU power, what we need is existing levels of power but without the need for excessive cooling and the fan noise that goes with it (I can hardly type this over the noise of my P4 3.0) !.

      Fast, Silent and power efficent is what's needed next.
    • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ponos ( 122721 )

      85 Celcius operation with heat sink

      Well, perhaps "cool!" is not the correct response...

      It says with a heat sink only. Not with a fan!
      The last chip that worked without a fan was the 486DX33 and
      486DX40(I'm talking mainstream desktop PC hardware, not mobile solutions). You could probably stick a fan and get it down to
      40 degress, while a Pentium 560 will produce liquid plasma and/or a fusion reaction if operated without a fan.

      • A PPC G3/300 works perfectly well without a fan.
      • The last chip that worked without a fan was the 486DX33 and 486DX40(I'm talking mainstream desktop PC hardware, not mobile solutions).

        I ran a Pentium-120 for a year without any kind of cooling - not even a heatsink. It worked perfectly.

      • The via eden processors run pretty well without a fan - they go up to 600MHz I think (see more info here [])
  • Is it just me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morriscat69 ( 807260 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:08AM (#11429739)
    Or does the logical extension of this chart: ributed.gif []

    Make it look a little more like a HAL than a Cell?
  • The full specifications haven't been given out yet but some details [Specs] are out there:

    * 4.6 GHz
    * 1.3v
    * 85 Celcius operation with heat sink

    In toasters.. ovens..
  • Compiler technology (Score:5, Informative)

    by sifi ( 170630 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:17AM (#11429777)
    One question which was not addressed fully in the article was how do you compile/test programs for this thing.

    The potential of parallel architectures has never been in doubt since the early days of the Cray monsters - but how to compile code to use all the features efficiently has.

    I don't believe that we see the full advantage of these types of architecture exploited without some similar break-through in software tools.

    Mind you the hardware rocks...
    • by mr_jrt ( 676485 )

      Program in a language that is referentially transparent [].

      ...once you can assume that any function is able to be concurrently executed all you have to solve is the communication between processors/storage. The latency of current networking technologies makes this unpractical for general tasks, but this is less of a problem with a low-latency internal bus.

      Time to drag those Haskell textbooks out of the closet and dust them off. ;)

    • One question which was not addressed fully in the article was how do you compile/test programs for this thing. The answer is OpenMP []. OpenMP is mulithreading API wich can hide parallelization from the user almoste completly. It's embarassingly easy to use - only one line of code is enouth to parallelize a loop. All threads creation/synchronisation remain hidden from user. It's extremly efficient too - I was never able to achime the same level of performance if duing multithreading myself.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No matter how well a processor or group of processors can run tasks concurrently it will always come down to the fact that most tasks are serial in nature and will not scale to a concurrent processing architecture. Aside from this developing multi-threaded software is extremely difficult and is rife with problems. Just ask any developer about the hardest problem to find/debug. It is pain incranate and some MT bugs can take 5+ days to find. People design serially, because a lot of tasks are essentially seri
  • next please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aixou ( 756713 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:41AM (#11429839)
    I'm sorry, but Sony can kiss my ass.

    This is from the company that said the Playstation 2 would have Toy Story quality graphics, and be able to render FF8 quality FMVs in real time (thus making FMVs no longer required). It was essentially that bullshit hype that killed the Dreamcast... so yeah, now they're at it again.

    Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I doubt their system will be able to do anywhere near what they say it can in practical application.
    • And I still have yet to see texture filtering typically used on that system.

      Actually, I keep hearing about SIMD units on it, but no real 3D specific hardware on it has come to my attention. As they say, WTF?
    • Re:next please (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rinikusu ( 28164 )
      Sony can kiss my ass, too. But I'll probably be in the fucking line to buy it when it comes out. See you there?

    • Re:next please (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @03:15PM (#11434594) Journal
      Maybe this time Sony will see fit to include that really high-tech mipmapping [] stuff, so their console isn't the King of Sparkle.

      (Stupid Sony, I've had my PS/2 for about a year now and I still notice it almost every time I play. Can't believe how unbelievably stupid they were not to include it. That one change, which by computer graphics standards is dirt cheap, would have massively improved its graphics. Anti-aliasing, on the other hand, is expensive to do right, so while I expect it on this next generation, at least while running in NTSC or PAL, I wouldn't have expected it in the PS/2 era. Though some managed, I think....)

      After that, I don't trust them any farther than I can throw them. The PS/2's graphics subsystem wasn't an Eighth Wonder of the World, it was an incompetent disgrace. Fortunately most of their fanboys are so stuck up the ass with Sony that it took them years to notice, instead of it jumping out at them in 5 seconds.

      I have it for the game selection, and I like the games, I like the controller, I like the case, etc... but the graphics are far, far worse than what they should have been. You have to reach back for years and years to find anything else that didn't do mipmapping.

      (I've also played the Dreamcast some more lately. It definately pumps out fewer polygons, but equally definately, they are higher quality polygons, and the fact that the Dreamcast clearly has mip-mapping is no small part of that. The PS/2 was a step forward in some ways, but a big step back from the DC in others.)
  • by brett42 ( 79648 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:44AM (#11429844)
    I'm willing to believe that a 4.6 GHz chip with 8 ALUs and high bandwidth memory would be fast, but even in bulk, there's no way they can afford to put 4 of them in a sub-$500 game console.

    I've been reading PR about the Cell for years, and nothing I've ever read has seemed even remotely plausible. Is there any objective information that even comes close to substantiating any of these claims?
    • there's no way they can afford to put 4 of them in a sub-$500 game console.

      I'm thinking there's no way they can afford not to.

      MS wants to take out sony as the leader in the game market. Their tactic is to take cheap PC hardware, snap up hot games and make them exclusive by buying out the game companies. Throw a lot of advertising on it and vio'la. Anyone can see the writing on the wall.

      Sony has to come out with something that will smoke whatever the XBox2 is going to be. Not just your regular smok

      • Eh? MS is leaving x86 behind for the Xbox 2. They're going with some type of PowerPC based chip from IBM, rumored to be multi-core. ATI provides a custom graphics chipset that will not have a PC counterpart.

        Sony is going with Cell from IBM and an nVidia graphics chipset. So I don't see a huge difference. My guess is that both consoles will have extremely similar performance and this next generation of consoles will be the most boring ever -- lots of multi-platform games that look identical.
  • STI (Score:3, Funny)

    by smallguy78 ( 775828 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:52AM (#11429869) Homepage
    i didn't understand any of the document, but damn it looks fast
  • Wonder if IBM looks into the future and doesn't see PCs anywhere? Intriguing possibility.
  • by YE ( 23647 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:11AM (#11429934)
    While I tend to agree the Cell is an impressive architecture, this article is a steaming pile of B.S.

    No cache for CPUs? A breakthrough? Hello! Both PSone and PS2 have the so-called scratchpad, which is what the Cell seems to have: a cache which has to be managed explicitly by the programmer. Breaking news: This is a royal pain in the ass. And calculating bandwidth when reading from this tiny scratchpads makes about as much sense as calculating the speed at which a x86 processor can execute MOV EAX, EBX.

    Magically "the OS solves everything", and, in an obvious attempt to automatically get OSS-crowd support (is that "slashdot-trolling" or "slashdot-baiting"?) the triumph of Linux is predicted, because it's portable. Good luck getting the Linux kernel and GCC compiled, let alone running well on a massively parallel array of tiny CPUs without cache.
  • ... promises seemingly obscene computing capabilities for what will rapidly become a very low price.
    It's for cheaper better porn.
  • Unfair comparison (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stripsurge ( 162174 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:40AM (#11430017) Homepage
    Since the main goal of the chip is to pump through graphics, regardless of what device its in, a GPU is better grounds for comparison.

    From TFA: "Existing GPUs can provide massive processing power when programmed properly, the difference is the Cell will be cheaper and several times faster."

    Its supposed to do 250GFlops when? 2 years from now? Apparently the Geforce 6800 Ultra will do 40GFlops and thats today.... extrapolate with some doubling here and there it seems a lot more reasonable.

    So the big thing is that it comes down to programming. It came up a few times in the article "Doing this will make it faster but will make for one hell of a time for the programmers" It may have a huge potential but may take a while to get everything efficiently as Sony would like. Reminds me of when the GF3 first came out and was beaten by the GF2U in some tests. IIRC it took a while for games to come out that took advantage of its programability. It'll be interesting to see how well the programmers can fair between now and Cell's release.
  • by ponos ( 122721 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:52AM (#11430052)
    There are several assumptions that lead to tremendous theoretical performance figures. The simple fact is that like the Itanium, the Cell processor depends on some rather complicated software that will solve issues like parallelism, coherency etc. The article clearly states that the Cell architecture is a combination of software and hardware (1st page). This is good because performance can always increase (via a better OS or microcode) but it is also bad because it means that initial versions may not stand up to their performance claims.

    Also, let's not forget that developers will be unable to keep up, unless some highly sophisticated libraries and languages are made available. I really don't expect the majority of developers to be able to cope with massive parallelism from the beggining (not just 2x SMP or hyperthreading, this needs a totally different mindset).

    To sum this up: the hardware will deliver, but the software is a critical unknown in the equation. I have faith in IBM ;-)

  • Locked Up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DingerX ( 847589 )
    I read all five sections at once, intending to stream each chapter through separate phases from character recognition to criticism. Unfortunately, every time the article used "it's" in a predicative sense, everything ground to a halt.

    Fortunately, cell reading meant I hardly noticed the claim that hardware would compete with the x86 because, unlike the x86, cell computers need all their software written for the specific hardware.

    I like how "hardware-specific" becomes "OS-independent". Great I can plug my H
  • Fairly straightforward I would have thought; use lots of thick stone, big locks, and don't forget the bars on the window.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @08:22AM (#11430405)
    Nicholas Blachford is an idiot. Do not read any of his articles. Just to give you the best of Nicholas, read his antigravity article and visit his web site:

    Also, look at the nose pictures of him ;)

    Seriously, the guy has burned most of his sane braincells.

    For serious laugh, read his article series 'building the next generation' from osnews. I really got good laughs from that 4 part series.

    Also, it didn't take long to spot a totally idiotic statement from todays slashdotted article:

    > Parallel programming is usually complex but in this case the OS will look at the
    > resources it has and distribute tasks accordingly, this process does not
    > involve re-programming.

    Here Nicholas misses the core problem of parallel programming. The program algorithms _always_ have to made parallel. The OS can't do it.
  • First of all, the CELL concept is based on massive multithreading. As several other posters have said, software tools suck when it comes to parallel programming. Software engineers suck, too at parallelism.

    Secondly, the 4 CELL processors of the PS3 will NOT give it a graphical edge over the PC. PS3 games will not be as impressive as the PC ones. The reason is that graphics will be handled by the NVIDIA GPU, not by the CELLs. But the PS3 will be stuck with a specific NVIDIA model, while PCs will be upgraded
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @11:49AM (#11432250) Journal
    I'm not actually surprised that so-called journalists, especially the technical kind, get good salaries. If you look at the painful clowns running the show at ZDNet, and most technical publications for that matter, including such wonder rags, such as the Register, you know that the Agenda is almost the most important thing. The actual realities of the tech world be damned as long as you have someone passing you your monthly wad of cash.

    And this story is no different.

    As many have noted, Sony did exactly this kind of hyping the last time around when the PS2, with its emotion engine, was supposed to be the future of all things computing. As everyone knows, the PS2 was a real pain to code for, and the actual performance was not better than the PC's of the day. The Cell will undoubtedly suffer from the same problems when it comes to coding real applications. Concurrency and parrallelism do not an easier coding experience make.

    I have no doubt that this thing will be good, but I absolutely doubt that it will have much or any effect on the x86 world of computing. The G4 processor, when it came out with the Altivec SIMD processsor, which was apparently better than SSE at the time didn't turn Apple into the next Microsoft overnight either, did it?

    So, I expect that the x86 world will continue to thrive and that Apple will stick some of these Cell processors, having as they do a PPC 970, aka G5, in their core, in some of their machines and will make the usual wild RDF claims about how hot it is while it will be used by only a small fraction of actual Mac developers in reality, the Mac having to maintain backward compatibility only slightly less then the x86 world does.

    In other words, it'll be business as usual.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito