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  1.    #1  
    The truth behind “The Thread to end the Console War”

    This is a factual researched based thread to investigate the true hardware discrepancies between the PS3 and Xbox 360. This is NOT a thread of rash subjective fanboyism for any specific platform. It is the result of hours of research by myself and Pr0pher129 but is obviously subjective to interpretation (basically we might have got **** wrong). But we’ve tried out hardest to get our information right and explain it as WE understand it. If you have any problems with what we’ve said please structure your reply in an informative factual manner showing all your sources. This may sound a bit facist but we don’t want the thread to run away from the point.

    Ok…here we go (down the rabbit hole)…

    Let’s agree that we all understand and know the equivalent GPU specifications and that the 360 offers the more superior GPU due to its Stream Processor Architecture, as far as graphics are concerned. So the question remains, how can the PS3 be considered a competitor?
    The only other significant component left to debate would be the CPU’s. So this thread will focus on the...

    Playstation 3’s Cell Processor vs Xbox 360’s Xenon CPU

    Hopefully this may offer an answer to the quandary…

    Breaking down the Cell Processor
    It’s original name was actually the Cell Broadband Engine.
    So, what is the Cell...well technically, it's a 3.2GHz PPE (Power Processor Element) connected to 8 SPE's (Synergistic Processor Element); so to better understand the makeup of this IBM POWER arcitecture, we looked at the individual components and what they are and what they mean.

    PPE
    The PPE is essentially the CPU of the chip, now; we're hesitant to use the phrase CPU, as this PPE is infact a 64bit PPU (with 2 threads), an L1 cache @ 16B/cycle, and an L2 cache @ 32B/cycle! But what does all that mean, well you've basically got a CPU, which can designate tasks to other processing units.

    This is where the SPE's come into play, they are the other processors that the PPE deligates to.

    SPE's

    Well, their are 8 of them, and they are all connected by an EIB () and use DMA to transport data along the EIB to other SPE's or the PPE for further direction.

    In english, these SPE's is comprised of SPU's, with their own dicrete memory and basic instruction set. The PPE allocated tasks to the SPE's, which act as individual threads, streaming the processed data to the EIB, where the PPE can then either send the compiled data to either the memory conroller or I/O controller, or another SPE for further processing. This can occur on either a functional or parallel basis.

    So what you essentially have, is a GPGPU, mixing GPU SPU power, with CPU organisation. A CPU theoretical wet dream, as you can achieve the brute force of the GPU, with the inteligance of a CPU.
    Ok, so the hardware is amazing, and definitely next generation, so why don't we see next generation performance?

    Well, to start off with, the Cell is not a conventional CPU, with no cache for the individual SPE's to do anything other than what the PPE designates, and only the EIB acting as cache coherent memory. A stringent and incredibly well designed instruction set is required, embeded within a linux kernal, for each SPE, in order to actualise the potential within the Cell. IBM have done this with their 2 Cell blades, mostly used for extreme multitasking MMORPG servers.



    http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/m...mages/fig5.jpg


    With this architecture the cell processor has a maximum GFLOPS of 204.8. However, it would appear that the PS3 is severely bottleneck by either, the GPU...or the poor implementation of the Linux kernel, thus relying on developers to program games with multithreading SPE's in mind, separating the applications (games) into either functional or parallel threads, allowing individual SPE's to handle individual threads.

    So what about under the hood of the xBox 360...

    Surprise surprise, we have the IBM Xenon, which is in fact, another 3.2GHz PPE.

    But, these PPU's have the instruction set of CPU's, with L1 and L2 cache dedicated to each CPU, thus all 3 physical cores act independently on one die. Which is totally different to modern multi-core CPU's which utilise L3 cache to share workloads.

    Although each 3.2GHz core has 2 threads, the total power is still only 3 indipendant 3.2GHz cores. It has a 96GFLOP peak (32 per core), as the CPU is restricted to In-Order Processing, which renders the 'Xenon' 3 old architecture CPU's, with no shared unified memory, on one die.

    So why can the 360 keep up with the PS3...the only thing to do is compare GPU power.

    RSX (PS3)
    This chip is based on the 7800 with pixel pipelines opposed to stream processors. But with over 300 Mln transistors, this thing shouldn't be underestimated; it can punch out a Z sample rate of 8.8 Gigasamples, and has a maximum of 51Bn dot product operations per second...which are all nice numbers. With an average load performance of 1.8TFLOPS.

    XGPU
    The XGPU is a bit different; it uses Unified Stream processors, and is similar to the ATi x1900, but has slight changes which makes it the basis of the HD2xxx/3xxx series. This GPU has 232Mln transistors, which deliver 24Bln dot product operations per second, and 8gigasamples of Z sampling per second and this all delivers 240GFLOPS of load performance.
    Insert table

    So the 360 is looking a little weak in numbers, but is it just a numbers game (no pun intended) well, no.

    The USP architecture of the 360 delivers much more efficient results over the pipeline PS3, making the 240GFLOPS actually achievable. But the 1.8TFLOPS on the PS3 is with all pipelines being used 100% with 100% efficiency, a scenario which is near impossible to create.






    Conclusion

    The xBox hasn’t got much future, PS3 can keep pretty much the same hardware (just change GPU) to make the PS4, but the 360 would need a total change to make the 720 a viable competitor. However from a business point of view, the 360 offers the best consol solution, delivering performance in keeping with the current generation, with cheaper hardware rendering it profitable… but from a technology point of view, the PS3 is best hands down.

    From gaming performance point of view, CURRENTLY, PS3 has a slight edge (it can easily handle the current game developments), but not enough to justify the extra cost to Sony and customers, but if developers use the Cell more, you will see stella performance difference, as this CPU can almost match xBox's GPU in GFLOPS performance.

    But whether Sony can convince developers to fully utilise...or allow developers to fully utilise the Cell is yet to be seen.

    EDIT: xBOX GPU is GFLOPS not TFLOPS...and DPO is altered!!!!!


    Sources:
    http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/m...mages/fig5.jpg
    SIMD - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Xenon (processor) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia = (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon_(processor))

    Cell (microprocessor) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia = (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_(microprocessor)#Power_Processor_Element_.28PPE.29)

    SPE GHz - Google Search
    http://www.ideal.ece.ufl.edu/worksho...a08/paper9.pdf
    http://web.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~rdv/keio/...cellcpu3os.png
    http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/m...mages/fig5.jpg
    http://blog.makezine.com/Cell_Broadb..._Processor.jpg
    http://www.cse.scitech.ac.uk/disco/m..._IBM_MEW17.pdf
  2. #2  
    Did anybody else read all this?
  3. #3  
    me -- can't say I understood it though

    he seems to say that if developer could do the work the PS3 has much more potential

    But that's its problem -- programmers have multiple systems to program for, and since there are more XBOX / Windows based game platforms out there, why should they put in the effort to learn how to optimize for the PS3
    Last edited by BARYE; 07/04/2010 at 02:42 PM.
    755P Sprint SERO (upgraded from unlocked GSM 650 on T-Mobile)
  4.    #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by BARYE View Post
    me -- can't say I understood it though

    he seems to say that if developer could do the work the PS3 has much more potential

    But that's its problem -- programmers have multiple systems to program for, and since there are more XBOX / Windows based game platforms out there, why should they put in the effort to learn how to optimize for the PS3
    absolutely agree...P.S Sorry about the length of the post...wanted it to be thorough.
  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by BARYE View Post
    me -- can't say I understood it though

    he seems to say that if developer could do the work the PS3 has much more potential

    But that's its problem -- programmers have multiple systems to program for, and since there are more XBOX / Windows based game platforms out there, why should they put in the effort to learn how to optimize for the PS3
    My understanding was that optimizing for consoles WAS the advantage as opposed to multiple pc hardware configs.
  6. #6  
    interesting read, it basically confirmed what I already know. But the fact that devs don't take advantage of the ps3s superior hardware is an interesting fact that I had not known until now.
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by dbd View Post
    Did anybody else read all this?
    Nope, but I struggled to get through your post... so... yea.
  8.    #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by daThomas View Post
    My understanding was that optimizing for consoles WAS the advantage as opposed to multiple pc hardware configs.
    Absolutely, but an advantage that isn't yet being fully leveraged...even though, its amazing what consoles can do, I have much better hardware in my PC than a 360 for example, and still get similar performance.
  9. #9  
    good read. Devs are just now starting to really get a handle on the ps3s hardware. This is also why ps3 exclusives are coming out with better graphics these days. As this console generation continues we will see that difference get bigger. Only thing that is odd is that games that have the 360 as the lead platform usually turn out to be subpar on the ps3. Yet when the ps3 is the lead the 360 counterpart is ported smoothly with hardly any problems.
  10.    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by bullonparade85 View Post
    good read. Devs are just now starting to really get a handle on the ps3s hardware. This is also why ps3 exclusives are coming out with better graphics these days. As this console generation continues we will see that difference get bigger. Only thing that is odd is that games that have the 360 as the lead platform usually turn out to be subpar on the ps3. Yet when the ps3 is the lead the 360 counterpart is ported smoothly with hardly any problems.
    This is because porting to the Cell is VERY difficult, but porting from the Cell is incredibly easy
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by phil.hsr View Post
    This is because porting to the Cell is VERY difficult, but porting from the Cell is incredibly easy
    What could Sony have done to have made it easier for developers both to write more effectively for its platform -- as well to port from XBOX /Windows

    I'm not a programmer but its my understanding that in OSes programmers use intermediary tools known as compilers that translate a relatively generic programming language into the more efficient code readable by CPUs.

    Did Sony provide developers with a programming environment that anticipated the obstacles of writing for the Cell -- as well as the issues of porting from XBOX to Cell ??

    It sounded from your original post as though developers needed to both learn a new programming language, as well as the Cell's entirely new architecture -- is that true ?
    755P Sprint SERO (upgraded from unlocked GSM 650 on T-Mobile)
  12.    #12  
    Absolutely tools exist, its just sony have to convince developers to develop for the PS3, which is a very different experience to developing for the 360.

    If dev's design the game on the PS3 and then port to the other consoles...then they can get better performance from the PS3. But in order for that to happen, Sony need to convince dev's to not only use their platform as the base development tool (which is a different form of programming to windows game programming) but also then port their games to a larger user base and get worse performance than if they had developed it for windows/xbox from the onset.
  13. #13  
    It's my understanding that Sony just throws the hardware at you and says work with this. (Only a slight exaggeration).

    Microsoft, having a long-time background in things like DirectX, Visual Studio, and other developer tools, has a much better set of tools to develop on the 360, which makes it easier to get the most out of the system.

    Also, honestly, you're completely ignoring a lot of the functionality of the 360 GPU. For one, you get pretty much free 2x anti-aliasing due to the embedded DRAM.

    It's my opinion that the PS3 yes, does have a superior CPU, though it's still difficult to fully take advantage of it, but I'd much rather have the GPU of the 360.

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