Should Sony stay with the Cell CPU for the PS4

Most industry sources are convinced that Sony’s next generation console will not have a Cell based CPU. In my opinion if these rumors are true, this will be a huge mistake!  I understand why Sony might think they should ditch the Cell technology; developers are complaining about the difficulties of extracting processing power from Cell.

The issue of developing multi-platform games have resulted in Xbox 360 version looking better then there PS3 counterparts; so when gamers have a PS3 and Xbox360 in their homes they usually buy the Xbox 360 version of the game.

The Cell chip in the PS3 should have been an evolution in CPU technology, but due to some possible design flaws, its true power has been hard to release.

What is the Heart that beats with in the PS3, how does this heart work?

In previous articles I have discuss briefly the architecture of the PS3 CPU, let’s look a little closer at the beast that has been caged.

The Cell is a heterogeneous multicore processor; it consist of two kinds of processors cores, PowerPC process “PPE” this core handles general processing, and a Synergistic Processor Elements “SPE” this core handle multimedia processing these cores exist on a single CPU die.

The PS3 Cell chip is one PPE with (7-8 eight SPE, one SPE is not accessible) SPE on a single chip die; the chip has a clock speed of 3.2 GHz with floating-point operation performance in excess of 200GFLOPS.

When the information was released about the Cell; the gaming world truly believes the E3 demos were truly possible on the PS3.

The Cell processor was supposed to usher in Grid Computing, the technology of “component device that could be used standalone as well as part of a giant grid computing system created by linking individual Cell”.

You remember E3 when Sony stated that other Cell based device could loan processing power to other Cell base devices, that never happen did it and in Oct 18, 2007 Sony sells the Cell processor to Toshiba with all manufacturing facilities of the Cell processor.

This was the first sign that Sony next console would use another Process for their next system.  Some developers felt that problem with the Cell processor was accessing the SPE, that could cause and issue with developers using PPE more than SPE.

If Sony would focus on make the SPE’s more accessible and more capable of handling general purpose task; the next generation Cell chip could do what Sony envision.

The next generation Cell would be easier now to deal with, developer have over six years of experience now; why not improve on the things that developers have problems with and make the Cell the cornerstone of the new system.

We’ve seen the games from naughty dog we know that the PS3 capable let’s just improve on it, one of the main reasons for a next generation Cell processor is backwards compatibility.

If AMD is creating the next APU for PS4, what are the chances that we as gamers will be able to play PS3 game on our brand new PS4 console?

Some gamers will say I buy a next generation console for next generation games, that might be true but Xbox 720 is using a power7 CPU and ATI GPGPU; Microsoft can give gamers a console that looks like it has more value cause you can play Xbox720 and Xbox 360 games.

The internet is going wild with rumors that Sony might be later to the party and the Xbox 720 will be the first out of the gate.

When releasing a new console with tough competition the PR battle is important, the console with the most feature and cheapest price pointe usually wins.

By Sony going the route of improving existing technology; time would’ve been saved and the possibility of backward compatibility would have been easier to accomplish.

But all sign point to the Cell being left as old technology; and Sony going with a new CPU solution. I hope it works because the competition is out to be the only console left standing.

Written by

Rickey is a gamer to the core, He can remember at the early stages of his life playing pong, for every generation that has been, He has owned a console in that generation, He likes to study the architecture, the structure,and the software of every system that he has owned. From Atari, to Sega, to Nintendo,to Sony, and his favorite company Microsoft, he has been there gaming.

28 Comments to “Should Sony stay with the Cell CPU for the PS4”

  1. Adrian Serrano says:

    What a terribly written article, just basic grammar and structural issues with your sentences. Use the correct tense if you’re going to write for a living!

  2. orbitpro says:

    I think this would be a great move for Sony. Get the thing running with all 8 cores clock it at 4.2Ghz and that thing would be uncaged indeed.

  3. plsburydoughboy says:

    If PS3 backwards compatibility is not feasible, Sony will likely resell those games digitally. Hey, Sony fans ate it up twice in a row, right?

  4. Cytricks says:

    There is a SLIGHT flaw in your argument. The CELL is not the reason why ps3 game are behind the 360. If you look at physics and game-mechanics the ps3 out preforms the 360, ie battlefield games.

    The major flaw in the ps3′s architecture is the GPU not CPU. One it is was a last minute design. Two the BUS to transfer information to it creates a bottleneck for the how data flow. Finally, the 360 has a unified architecture that allows the GPU to have more memory.

    • amazinglover says:

      Agree completely plus the fact that 360 has 512 of shared ram to do almost as they please were PS3 only has 256 makes a difference in consoles were memory is at a premium

      • Louis-Charles Desjardins says:

        Where s the plus? you just repeated what Cytricks said with no mention of the PS3 256MB of video ram which makes your statement repetitive and wrong

      • cozomel says:

        The PS3 has 256MB XDR RAM running @3.2GHZ and 256MB GDDR3 VRAM running at 700Mhz

        The 360 has 512MB GDDR3 running at 700Mhz

        • killljoy says:

          Very good Einstein, but you left out the MOST IMPORTANT part.. the PS3′s 256 XDR ram speed is limited but the PS3 system bus. ?Basically the memory has to wait on the BUS which transfers information from memory to cpu to video GPU back and forth. The BUS only runs at 25 GBps ( Gigabytes per second) barely above the 23 GPS on the XB360.. What im trying to say is if you pair faster memory on any system ( any computer ) with a slower bus.. the system is slowed by the slowest part – the weakest link. Did you also research the PS3′s GPU ( graphic processor ) is NOT as powerful the the 360′s ? This is why games have to be ( abnormally ) designed around the PS3 CELL Processor.. because its more powerful.. The Japanese did it backwards.. and that’s why developers don’t like it..

    • xoj_21 says:

      but 360 also hav very little EDRAM making 720p and antiliasing near impossible.

      halo most games un 640p

      • Killjoy says:

        Wrong – Halo 4 uses a new engine – it’s TRUE 720p ( and doesn’t drop frame rates ).. the previous versions of Halo(s) kept using improved versions of previous Halo engines – which worked fine – but were stuck below 720P ( barely ) .. The completely new engine runs super smooth.. The PS3 is a tad more powerful then the 360 – but what good does it do if ( in order to tap that power ) you have to do a lot more work to see only a slight benefit ? It cost a lot of money to make games – so they don’t put a lot of extra time into them – Especially when you don’t have a 90 million ( 1st place lead ) like the PS2 had.. Without that lead ( you must get this ? ) game developers see no reason to put extra time into you.. Cuz you’re not so special anymore.. ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY ! You think Developers are loyal to Sony ? Look how many went to Xbox ? Those same developers left Nintendo 2 generations ago..

  5. Jimmy says:

    The ENTIRE tech industry has dropped the Cell processor because it is a PoS that consumes a LOT of energy and is a bitch to program for even with the latest SDK’s.

    But I see the dilemma in not having BC on the PS4. I personally wouldn’t buy such a console that wouldn’t play my old games (fell for it once and never again), but Sony’s suckered most of you into buying “HD” (yeah right) remakes and PS1 and PS2 games digitally again and again and you dumb fools will most certainly fall for it once more, blinded by a brand that hasn’t been cool since the 90′s.

    • John Jairo says:

      Whats so cool about a “brand” like Microsoft that started this generation selling a console with almost 40% fail rate and their customers buying it (yeah right) three, four or more times? Having to pay to play online when the “other brand” offers this for free?

      If you say sony fans are blind, please, do yourself a favor and look all the others. They are ALL blind.

      You can see Nintendo fans buying every Mario this or Zelda that every time! The same 5 core games, all over again: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, Super Smash Bros. Xbox fans have a console that only does HALO and some other first person shooters (that sell very well on USA because all the americans wants is to… Kill aliens?) and sony fans have their God of War and Uncharted.

      I´m not trying to be critic here. I think all of this is good. You like one console? Great! Do you like all of them? Better!

      Please, dont come here to tell things that because every brand has it’s good things and their problems.

      • killjoy says:

        M$ did something no one else would – they fixed all those consoles for FREE.. and sweetened the pot more by also adding an additional 3 year warranty from the time they fixed it. My 360 has been working since – that was 6yrs ago..

    • cozomel says:

      What the fuck is wrong with you? why do you have so much hate towards Sony’s PS3? And wtf do you mean “yeah right” to the HD remakes? They are HD remakes and they usually come with two or three games for $40 or less, especially with everything getting reduced in price now a days.
      And the PS3 has 256MB XDR RAM running @3.2GHZ and 256MB GDDR3 VRAM running at 700Mhz

  6. The biggest problem is a new Cell processor would cost a lot of money get a new chip developed, Cell is basically a scrapped project, IBM is no longer supporting it outside of making the chip for the PS3 and neither is Sony, and the other player Toshiba hasn’t released a new item with the Cell in it since 2009. The only company that has done anything with the technology behind the Cell is AMD and that was used to create the APU’s.

    So there really isn’t any chance the Sony would use a Cell processor in their system.

    • Odds are it’s rambus designing the main memory architecture & all the chip to chip interconnects again which is most likely xdr dram 2 memory architecture the successor to the xdr dram memory architecture used in the playstation 3 console.With ibm designing the multi core cpu architecture again similar to the cell processor which is inside the playstation 3 console.Nvidia designing the gpu again which is most likely a multi core gpu.

  7. spilltheink says:

    This may have been a decent argument, but because the article is written so poorly, there’s no way I’d have been able to get far enough to tell.

  8. Michael Munnett says:

    Obviously sony had contract ibm,rambus and nvidia to work with sony in engineering another hybrid console architecture similarly engineered like the playstation 3′s hybrid architecture just more performance efficient,more cost effective,effectively more powerful & more developer friendly.

    Cheers Gamers & Happy Gaming!

  9. xoj_21 says:

    maybe the AMD APUS are compatbile with cell? one can dream,but for the sake of backward compatibiity if orbis require high internet speeds we are doomed

  10. Jimmy says:

    Teh C3LL is crap.

  11. Correction, the 360 version of a game looks better if the developers are stupid, IE every activision studio

  12. WCrispy says:

    So many wrongs in the comments here.

    1. The 8th cell is for redundancy in case of another cell’s failure. It’s “locked” on purpose. Do your research.

    2. Most PS3 games that say they’re full 1080p are not. They’re upscaled from a lower res in post processing (same as the 360), OR there’s a menu screen that does in fact display full 1080p and this allows them to stamp “1080p” on the box. I have emails back and forth from execs at Ubisoft stating these facts. It’s just false marketing for the fanboys to argue over.

    If you want to argue over anisotrpic filtering and antialiasing, the PS3 looks like crap and the frame rate bogs down just as bad as the over-bloomed 360′s effects on any given title, just in a different way. Uncharted is a prime example. My PC gaming rig blows away anything seen on the PS3 or 360 combined.

    3. Sony does have more powerful hardware, it’s just not utilized by cross-platform games, only by exclusive titles such as Uncharted or Metal Gear Solid 4. Most game developers aren’t going to sign onto an exclusive deal with a console that sold less units compared to the other consoles, as this is an idiotic business practice, so, the PS3 gets the crappy port job every time, being that a regular PC and 360 have the same architecture.

    For the first few years, PS2 games outsold PS3 games, and Sony has been doing everything they can to get rid of the PS2, including the removal of backwards compatibility. The developers had contracts to program for the PS2 that continued well into after the PS3′s launch and has been a huge thorn in Sony’s side.

    How do I know all of this? Because I have a piece of crap 80GB “backwards compatible” PS3 that only weighs down my entertainment center as to prevent my 360 from getting red ringed every time a truck drives by. I’ve researched the crap out of all of this and Sony’s continued “wait and see how cool we’re going to be” policy can suck a fat one. I won’t be giving them any more money.

    • Look sony has worked with ibm & rambus alone since the original playstation so the odds favor ibm & rambus working with sony’s next playstation console.Expect them to engineer another hybrid risc architecture again which they’ve done since the original playstation console & the currect playstation 3 console.

  13. Dzenan Sehic says:

    Didn’t IBM further evolve the cell into the PowerxCell 8i that work with AMD Opteron graphics ?? I mean I know it must be a pain in the ass to develop for ps3 specially multi platform games but when you look at Metal Gear Solid 4 that is an exclusive title to ps3 and it beats the pants off the newest flock of multi port crap games they have out now I can’t see why it wouldn’t be worth the investment. I know the cpu has nothing to do with the gpu thats entirely a different department, but didn’t sony admit to picking a gpu card that was sort of a last minute? I believe they did and the games still look amazing albeit the 1080p is a stretch everyone should know by now its just marketing and that most if not all are running 720p upscaled.

    to get back to my point I believe from a consumers point I’d spend the extra few bucks on a playstation orbis (4) that has the newer PowerXCell that can work flawlessly with a GPU and have my ps3 library work on it then having 8 titles at launch that are basically so-so because their still in the new born stage of the console.

    Now from a business point of view I’d go with AMD APU 8core with at least 4 gigs of ram running at 4ghz and developers sign left and right for exclusive titles to pour in once again. Since the APU is out already and developers have a good idea what to expect to work with.

    Here’s to 2013 hoping for an exciting year damn it!!

  14. Killjoy says:

    Your writing are the opinion of who Mr Gibson ? Do you make games ? Have you heard the cries of developers who exclaim “To make great games on PS3 takes a lot more effort and time – Which equates to MONEY” .. The idea of consoles is to make money and make even more money through game sales. The PS3 is almost tied for 2nd place in consoles sold ( that seems to be important to fans ) .. but you know what ? Sony is more concerned about returning to prior profitability. Sony still spends more to make per console – this means it makes the least cash per console. Developers can make MUCH BETTER games for a console that isn’t so hard to program for.. That’s why you’re a writer Mr Gibson – you interject opinion like us all -without knowing much of what may be actually best for Sony..

  15. lol says:

    talking about the dream console, yes.. the ideal solution for sony should have been to bump up the cell processor into the ps4 maybe 2 individual cell processors + 4GB of really fast buffering XDR2 / GDDR5 ram and a decent mid range gpu with higher bandwidth would do the trick… and since specially sony operated developers like naughtydog and individual studio quantic dream, have managed to pull off some massive feats which are a visual treat from the ps3. I mean atleast for me i think that the cell engine in the ps3 was the game changer. nor sony, nor IBM, nor the developers realized the potential of the cell… i remember reading comments from Valve and Crytek that ” the ps3 and cant handle the games and is a expensive and worthless piece of equipment ) well after seeing games which are ps3 exclusive AAA titles they shut their mouths and put their ass to work. If the fucking crazy devs are too lazy to write optimized code then no one can do anything. You can throw anything at the ps3 you can make it a semi-gpu, semi-cpu and complement what extra resource you want.

    I think Sony will be making a huge mistake if it shifts to the x86 based architecture. ( if rumours are to be believed then this is true )

  16. Robbie Rob says:

    PS4 wont play PS3 games.. but the new Xbox will still let you play XB 360 games..
    In reality both NEW systems will offer performance so close it won’t matter as far as quality.. Sorta like how the PS3 and XB360 were very close in graphics.. even though they always boasted the PS3 as more powerful.. The New Xbox will use the same style CPU as the 360 ( except about 7 times more powerful ).. SO developers WONT have to RE-LEARN on the new Xbox.. they’ll feel right at home.. The New Xbox is using the same graphics card as the PS4.. but MS has a slight advantage.. they can make small changes now until they make an official announcement now that they know Sony’s official specs.. Changes wouldn’t be big, but they don’t have to be because the systems will still be closely matched even if one is more powerful it won’t be enough to matter..

  17. Simon Campbell says:

    Yes, at this point I guess we all know that this wil probably be the end of the Cell processor.
    I guess from now on consoles are almost just going to be glorified PCs, and we are unlikely to see Sony taking any risks and in the foreseeable future. Well at least we got Nintendo and Oculus VR ;)

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