Cell and RSX
Battling perceptions that the PS3’s RSX graphics chip is weaker than the 360’s Xenon, and that the Cell processor isn’t suited to games, a poster over at datafuse.net had some great insights to share.
For example, when the Xenon’s unified shader architecture was mentioned as superior to the RSX’s more traditional architecture:
Unified shaders do not necessarily provide any more power. It’s just a new way to arrange power. In terms of raw horsepower, RSX beats Xenos quite handily – floating point power is greater, shader ops are higher, it’s clocked faster, higher fillrate etc. Xenos’s claim to fame is that while it has less of a punch, it should be used more efficiently, but in a closed box such as a console, such concerns are somewhat mitigated since a dev can hunker down and get the best out of ANY chip. Xenos is also the first implementation of a new architecture – not always a good thing, and we’ve seen suggestions of some sacrifices on the part of devs.
And on the Cell processor, when people said it wasn’t suited to games:
Pure nonsense. This guy has obviously not been paying attention to IBM’s work with raytracing and rendering on Cell for example (or The Getaway demo which was apparently rendered only using Cell) and too much time reading Major Nelson-style ramblings. If you simply listen to what developers are saying they are using more CPU power for, Cell starts looking exceptionally suited for games. Most devs seem to be using extra cores for physics, animation, particle systems, graphics, audio, fluid/hair/cloth dynamics – these are the things which are most compute intensive, and these are the things the SPUs in Cell are really good at. As good, if not better than a conventional core, and there are 7 of them there in addition to the PPE. If you don’t believe me, look up Tim Sweeney’s comments about Cell on anandtech.com – basically he says that the things SPUs aren’t suited toward only take a small proportion of execution time anyway, and can be easily accomodated on the PPE. Or Crytek’s comments about potentially achieving a linear speedup across the SPUs. Cell is a clear and large advantage for PS3 when it comes to games, there’s no doubt in my mind.
Now of course you can throw a dart in a room full of gamers and hit 17 opinions, but I still like to see people standing up for the PS3 with all the 360 hype floating over the airwaves these days.