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.