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PS3 and its OS |

The PS3, unlike the PS2 before it, has a real operating system running at the same time as the game. This operating system will take care of things like voice chat, video chat, instant messaging, and other stuff. I’d previously heard that the OS reserves one of the Cell’s seven SPEs to itself.

According to some “inside sources” (or something like that), PS3 Portal has uncovered that there’s a lot more to the picture. Supposedly the OS can request a second SPE of the currently running game at any given moment. Which means that a game can use the main PPU, plus 5 SPEs, no problem. It can use a sixth SPE knowing that it can be taken away at an instant’s notice. This isn’t so bad really. The PPU is a powerful core. Each SPE is a powerful core too. A game running on one PPU and 5 SPEs still has a lot of horsepower available to it. If that was all, the news wouldn’t be so bad.

But according to PS3 Portal’s sources, that’s not all. The OS also reserves 32MB of the GDR3 graphics memory and 64MB of the XDR main memory. That’s about 19% of the system’s memory. That’s a lot. In the world of console gaming, memory is as precious as Coca-Cola is to a programmer. And to pour 19% off a full glass isn’t so bad if there’s Coke in the glass, but its a major hindrance if it’s memory.

Well, it’s a rumour right now. And if there’s a hint of truth to it, maybe the numbers aren’t so bad. But either way, I have a feeling that developers can make up for that missing 19% and still make some killer games.

PlayStation 3 Portal – Inside the PS3

  • I dont think that all of that is true…

    The thing is, that i heard some rumors of this site being “infiltrated” by 360 fanboys and such… So, can one believe this info? I dunno, but lets get some things strait…

    Why should the OS take up 32MB of graphics RAM while not even visible?? This makes absolutely no sense at all! Think of it this way, does Windows take up graphics RAM while playing? No, it certanly does NOT…

    After all, taking graphics ram for the os is just plain stupid as it compromises the performance of the games and makes NO sense, because the data can be swapped in and out randomly (unlike eeproms or such). So when the system wants to notify you of something, i just pauses the game, unloads 32 megs from the ram and loads the OS to it… No big deal with a harddrive/firmware OS…

  • gary

    PS3portal has updated the article about the PS3’s OS:

    This Article was editted incorrectly earlier, we appologize for this. The correct edits are now in place. We clarified the article to state that 12.5% of the Cores (including the PPE) is reserved always and an additional 12.5% can be reserved if requested by the OS. We also clarified that “Sony has removed up to 25% of the available CPU power.

    In addition, we did not include any of the information concerning their plans for usage of the PPE core as well as information around the Blu-Ray drive being used in the PS3. We are currently following up and getting additional clarification regarding both of these.

  • Black Guy

    iThink the use of video RAM is kind of unusual; maybe that is false. On another note, considering all the features Sony is promising, a large portion of system RAM being reserved for the OS doesn’t sound too unusual. The X360 uses about 32 or 40MB of system RAM, can’t remember exactly. .

    Game systems since the Dreamcast has had a simple OS running in the background. On the DC, iBelieve it was about 4.5MB of RAM reserved.

  • Black Guy

    Segaitz –

    “… i just pauses the game, unloads 32 megs from the ram and loads the OS to it… No big deal with a harddrive/firmware OS…”

    No big deal? Its not that simple home skilet. What happens if that block of memory to b swapped is current being used or there is no HD space to do the swap? The game will b running atop the OS, u can’t just swap it in & out. When u’r running Word and Windows decides to lockup, can u keep using Word? Of course not.

    U can’t run an OS straight from firmware cuz the memory typically used to store such things r too slow for practical use; especially in something like a PS3. It has to b loaded into RAM.

  • francois

    If 32 megs of video is dedicated to the os and 1 SPE, that means we can hook a second TV to the playstation and and video chat with our online buddy while playing a game, all that without performance drop. I would love that feature to play NHL against my brother that live 3 hours from my home.