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IBM Dropping the “Cell”? What Will Happen to the PS4? |

“IBM is discontinuing the Cell chip line of products. A successor to the current PowerXCell-8i chip will not be brought to market, the company’s Vice President of Deep Computing, David Turek, told the German IT news site Heise.”

So there is no confirmation just yet, but it looks pretty likely that this is at the very least, partially true. What does this mean? Well the first thing I can think of is that PS4 will have backwards compatability issues right out of the gate. Pretty much all BC will have to be emulated.

What is your opinion on the debacle?


Update: The original source says that the original predecessor of the Cell (the 32 SPE one) has been discontinued and will appear in a different form.

“The Cell design is not dead, but parts of it will reappear in another form”

  • Royalty32

    Who knows maybe there developing something bigger and better than cell for sony but why are we talking about the ps4 when im still enjoying my ps3. If my mind serves me correct i was told that the ps3 will have a 10 yr life cycle. Thaat means i still have seven more years to go. Once those ys are up then talk about the ps4 but til then i really dont care.

  • Eddie

    Thats not what the 10 year lifecycle means. It means Sony will continue their efforts tos upport the PS3 for 10 years. It doesn’t mean that another system will not be released. Same story with the PS2. Its still being supported as they promised at launch.

  • Well I really don’t think that it will be at big problem. With the current dev. in GPGPU / GPU / OpenCL.

  • Royalty32

    Well ok then, if that means sony will still support ps3 why the hell are we talking about the ps4 already. Like i said b4 there prolly workin on a better chip. We still have a long way til we see the ps4 and to be honest im not looking foward to it just yet because if the ps3 cost $600 dollars at launch just imagine how much the ps4 will b. $$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • Fact is Sony needs to be looking at the next console now, even though it won’t be released for several years. A console is not built in a day.

    This news, however, is indeed a blow. I was hoping that the PS4 would have a souped-up Cell processor in order to avoid the steep learning curve developers “enjoyed” this generation.

    As well, if Sony uses a Cell processor in the PS4, that would greatly reduce Sony’s cost of creating the PS4, because they already have so much invested in the Cell. Anything that saves Sony money is a good thing right now.

  • Eddie

    I’m not sure “years” is entirely accurate in the sense its being used. All 3 consoles are pointing around 2012 for their next console with continued support of the current ones.

  • Royalty32

    Thats stupid on sony’s part. Why come out with a console in 2012 when developers now dont even know how to max out the ps3. I dont think well see any new consoles from M$ or Sony. Nintendo prolly.

  • iFlash

    “However, Turek did explain that features of the Cell would continue to be moulded into other processor designs. With the future looking like it’s taking a GPU route, a hybrid technology is the direction IBM will developing.” – I think Nvidia is super happy to hear that. They’ve been dying to push a GPU out as desktop processor.

  • It’s a blow to the PS3 developers. All that time and effort to learn the Cell are for naught. MS has a real easy sell to the developer community now. LEarn the 360 because all of your skills will be transferable to the next generation. Just in time for your kids to go to university.
    This is a dollars and cents decision that effectively means two things.
    MS is in a great position for the next gen, And Japanese game companies that aren’t developing on the Xbox are going to suffer huge over the next few years.
    Sony is in a real tough spot, I’m sure they could produce the Cell themselves with Toshiba.
    The next consoles are going to use Intel chips even though this time they used PowerPC derivitives.

  • Matt

    Could they just put more than one Cell in the PS4? It would address backward compatibility pretty well, and i thought the Cell architecture worked well with processor clustering.

  • Royalty32

    Sony will not put cell in the ps4. They will have something more avanced but it will be easier to develop for. Sony needs there next console to be the leading platform for developers or the ps4 will suffer the same fate as the ps3.

  • Eddie

    Sony has already stated they wanted the Cell in the PS4. More specific one with 32 SPE’s. It was in development for the PS3 and now it has been cancelled.

    Cell is still the way of the future or vector processing…however they refer to it…I’m not totally up to date with it.

    They want it more specifically to drive the cost of the PS4 down from where the PS3 was due to it being current technology and not future. Not only that, but developers already are getting a grasp on how it works.

  • Royalty32

    i dont get how u can say that cell is the way of the future when ps3 games look the same of dont even come close to looking better than 360 games. Only first party developers are really tryin to max out the ps3. 3rd party doesnt give two shits if the ps3 suceeds of fails. Sony will and there partner of choice wioll develop a chip with easier programming and will push the graphics again.

  • Eddie

    Because the Cell plays a very little role in graphics. Graphics are almost entirely GPU driven, not CPU. The SPE’s allows for some stuff to be handed off, but most notabely its things like A.I. and some collision based stuff.

    There are a million different reasons some 3rd party games look better on the 360 and none of them have to do with the Cell.

    The future consoles will be GPU heavy. I expect a pretty nice boost from the RSX.

  • Matt

    Eddie wrote: “Because the Cell plays a very little role in graphics. Graphics are almost entirely GPU driven, not CPU.”

    Actually, the Cell can be used for whatever a developer programs it for. NaughtyDog did use the Cell to handle some of the graphics processing for “Uncharted 2”:

    “we kind of took the step of using the Cell process to help the RSX [the PS3’s graphics processor]. All those things are done on the Cell processor,” he explained. “It really helps us getting that quality of lighting per pixel; the amount of computation is pretty crazy.”

  • Eddie

    Right…it supported the RSX…but the GPU still was the primary graphics department.

    This I did know. Which is also why many first party games on the PS3 destroy the 3rd party ones.

  • JimmyMagnum

    in response to the topic, not not to any game talk, if the 32 SPE one was discontinued, it sounds like they may have built even faster SPEs that will drive down costs even more, possibly to the point where you can have half those SPEs and still get the same processing power (so 16 SPEs), or, if it isn’t that much faster than what was planned with the 32 SPE, they may have gotten enough power to run at the same capacity at 24 SPEs, which, too, then drives down manufacturing costs

  • Royalty32

    @ Matt, so reading the U2 article u provided they pretty much maxed out the ps3. So does that mean that there wont b a games looking as good as U2. Will GoW 3 come close.

  • Matt

    “…they pretty much maxed out the ps3. So does that mean that there wont be a game looking as good as U2?”

    If the hardware is truly maxed out, then I think the next step for a developer would be to optimize the existing code. Look for ways to trim out code and create a more efficient program. Sometimes they also discover ways to cheat or trick a common visual effect, which can free up the processor for more demanding work. GOW2 for the PS2 was a good example of how the graphic standard for a game can still be improved even when the hardware limit has theoretically been reached.

  • Royalty32

    I see, so what u are saying is like with the ps2 GoW was pretty much all the ps2 could do but when GoW 2 came out it look alot better than GoW even though the ps2 was already at its max. I understand now. So is santa monica maxing out the ps3 with GoW3

  • matt

    Agree that 2012 is looking like a console launch year. Who, remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2011 had a new console. That would be 6 years since the 360 Launch.

    I don’t think this will effect the PS4 at all. PS4 Development started before the PS3 launch. Sony must have the CPU decided by now and would have already locked up a deal with IBM on the PS4 Cell. If they are no longer using the Cell, the next best thing must be getting used. They may have a variation of the Cell that they are changing the name of. Sony may just use the current Cell chip in a multiple array to boost performance.

    Who the hell knows!

  • Eddie

    Well if these rumors have any inkling of truth…Sony’s next gen hardware is making its appearance first.

    First we had the news of Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series 6 GPU that is supposed to be used on the PS4. Now the news of the actual Cell being dropped, and something being made in its stead.

    If these are true…then it could be an indication that Sony wants out on the market first this round.

  • Sony needs to make sure of three things in the next round.

    1. Make it uber easy to develop for.
    2. Own the online distribution portion. Online only distribution f games makes financial sense for the developers.
    3. Give the developers of small games an option to sell their games on the next Sony console.
    4. Partner with Google and port Android to the PSP and the PS4. Port Chrome to the PS3. Google and Sony are in a fight with MS. Sony needs software help, Google needs hardware help. Sony Erricson can make Android phones and sell Android games. The collaboration will hurt MS. You’re not going to see Android games being sold on the XBox. And Sony and Google need to create an online store that can compete with Apple.
    5. It has to be cheap. Really cheap. The price point they should shoot for is $199 launch. Another expensive console launch will kill them. Hopefully they don’t go subscription but I could see them working a deal with the cable companies to make the PS4 a set top box. Like your cable converter.
    6. Hire bungie away from MS, now that they ar independant and have them create a unified online party system. Make it avaialble to every developer on the PS4 for free. It’s the ps3 big weakness.
    7. Either make Home the default area and have every developer create for it or drop it. Right now it’s turning into a ghetto.

  • Andy


    I agree with some of your comments, but not all.

    1. Open the store for all developers to use. Include a Homebrew section for hobyist developers, make it a bit like the Apple App Store in terms of who gets in, and which apps are chosen.
    2. Create an API for web developers to query game stats and player profiles for community integration.
    3. I like BluRay, but by the time PS4 comes around I’d expect online distribution of movies to be available. Think AppleTV + iTunes store.
    4. Give me a big HDD or no HDD (but make it mandatory that a HDD is installed).
    5. If the machine is good enough people will pay any price you ask, but it needs to be good enough – anything under $500 would be fine.
    6. Backwards Compatible would make people switch earlier, I was annoyed when my PS3 didn’t have that feature. If you’re not going to include BluRay, give me an option to media swap my disks to digital versions…for free. (it’d be nice if I could do this with my PS3 as PS1/2 games I already own are now for sale on the Store, why should I pay for something I already own?).


    PS: Forget porting Chrome and Google OS, just open up the developer API and let the world write software for you…and split the revenue 60/40.

  • Andy.
    5. People will not pay any price.
    6. BC is a straw dog. Why give something away for free when you can update it an make more money. The God of War 1 and 2 bundle are case in point.

    Your comment for 5 and 6 contradict each other. My Original PS3 has backwards compatibility but cost me $600. The machine was good enough but people didn’t buy it at that price. People are very price sensitive these days. That is going to stay for at least another 3 years. America isn’t getting out of the economic doldrums overnight.

    I don’t suggest Sony port Chrome. I suggest Sony and Google partner up. Google has good software developers, sony does not, Good has poor hardware guys, Sony has excellent ones. They should combine forces. Both of our proposals would have the effect of opening up the developer API. Google just has more marketing and money behind it rather than Sony going it alone.