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Sony Working on Multi-Core Design for PS4?

Earlier today, we reported that Intel and Nintendo might be collaborating on the next Nintendo-based console (not the HD Wii). Part inside scoop, part speculation, the report from Impress Watch said that Intel is trying to get Nintendo to jump onto the Larrabee bandwagon. While that may or may not be true, Nintendo has made it known that it's currently working on the blueprint for the next console.

Now Japan's Impress Watch has set its sights on Sony, reporting that Sony is shopping around for alternatives to the Cell architecture. Given the level of frustration expressed to Sony on a developer level, the move isn't surprising. Sony originally planned to use Intel's Larrabee GPGPU alongside the Cell in the next console (PS4). However, Intel itself has put this technology on "indefinite hold," and Sony canned the idea due to low power efficiency and 3D graphics pipeline performance.

Andriasang adds to the report, indicating that Sony also considered a modified, upgraded version of the Cell processor. This revision would grant SPUs direct access to the main memory so that programmers can program for a single memory space, making the process easier overall. But that too seems to be out in preference to the PC-like multi-core environment used by Sony's rival console, the Xbox 360.

Because the three console contenders are looking into the next generation hardware designs, it's speculated that the next wave of new hardware will begin sometime in 2012. Impress Watch said that it takes around twenty-four months to take a system from concept to final product. If that is indeed the case, we're betting the next Nintendo console will be the first out the door in Q4 2012, with the latter two "hardcore" platforms hitting the market in Q4 2013.

Just because the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 still offers a viable lifespan through 2014 or 2015, that doesn't mean the new generation can't spring into "life" a year or so before the previous generation's "death." Heck, the PlayStation 2 is still thriving.

  • SneakySnake
    I seriously hope they don't use the PS3 and 360 with their X1950 and 7800 GTX until 2014, we'll have the 7xxx and 5xx GPU series by then
    Reply
  • commandersozo
    I bet it would play Crysis!

    I'm sorry, I swear! I won't say it again, I... holy crap, who hired ninjas! No! No!

    In all seriousness now: If a more typical multicore processor woul make the system easier to understand for developers, then I say go for it. Yeah, Sony can justify it by saying "It's all part of the plan" and "It extends the lifecycle" but if developers don't develop good games, what's the point?
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    I've been saying this for a few years now. Sony and MSFT need to design their next gen systems around an SLI/Crossfire platform. Start the system off with a dual core GPU solution, with an expansion port or two.

    As an example, you could build a system with a strong media/general processor to drive the system, along with a say 800 stream processor graphics core linked via 256bit bus to say 512MB/1GB of video RAM. Then have an expansion port or two with which the consumer can easily add say a 400 steam processor, 128bit 512MB expansion or two, essentially doubling the graphics power of the system.

    That expansion would allow the new game engine that come out two years after the console's release to still function to their full potential, unlike today where 2 years down the line, console games are utter crap and are stagnating game engine growth.

    You could even go a step further, leaving out that media processor and driving everything via OpenCL/CUDA style programming on the GPUs exclusively.
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    I've been saying this for a few years now. Sony and MSFT need to design their next gen systems around an SLI/Crossfire platform. Start the system off with a dual core GPU solution, with an expansion port or two.

    As an example, you could build a system with a strong media/general processor to drive the system, along with a say 800 stream processor graphics core linked via 256bit bus to say 512MB/1GB of video RAM. Then have an expansion port or two with which the consumer can easily add say a 400 steam processor, 128bit 512MB expansion or two, essentially doubling the graphics power of the system.

    That expansion would allow the new game engine that come out two years after the console's release to still function to their full potential, unlike today where 2 years down the line, console games are utter crap and are stagnating game engine growth.

    You could even go a step further, leaving out that media processor and driving everything via OpenCL/CUDA style programming on the GPUs exclusively.
    Reply
  • as long as PS4 can play crysis, the world will still turn, our girlfriend/wife will continue to cheat, and AT&T will still be the least hated mobile phone service provider of all time.
    Reply
  • loomis86
    An upgradable console is absurd. The whole point of a console is to spare the user the trouble and expense of upgrades...and also to rape the consumer on game prices.

    However...if they could figure out a way to jam PS4 guts into a PS3 case while utilizing the old disk drive(s)...that would be cool. Call it a complete brain swap. PS4s would have to be backward compatible with PS3 user interfaces though.

    They would need to develop a standardized form factor for console motherboards.
    Reply
  • "Sony and MSFT need to design their next gen systems around an SLI/Crossfire platform."

    Very unlikely to happen, the whole point of the consoles is to have baseline configuration to aim for. Even if you had the opportunity for expansion games would still have to be coded, or would be anyway, for the least common denominator.

    Which is why consoles need to die in a fire, or at least see more significant upgrade cycles, as they hold back game development due to relying on outdated hardware for most of their lifecycle.

    Anyway, you want a more general purpose console? Get a PC. :)
    Reply
  • they did make an upgradeable console, I think the name was PC.

    I find it very hard to believe that sony is giving up the cell processor, they spent a billion or two on development.

    I thought the PS2 had the same issue with developers hating developing for it, but eventually they got used to it and starting pumping out hundreds of titles.

    I think sony should stick with the cell, and sell the PS3 for cheaper, that way more developers would want to develop for the PS3, get used to it and be ok with development for the PS4 if it did use the cell processor.

    Any way you slice it, sony will never be as developer friendly as a MS console, MS is in the business of making development tools and dumbing stuff down. Sony has to move lots of units, as long as there is a large install base and developers can make money it does not matter how hard it is to develop for.
    Reply
  • JonathanDeane
    @ The people talking about upgradeable consoles... The only actual upgrade on a console that was used in games was the N64 RAM expansion pack. Turok did look nice with it though.... The advantage of a console is its single hardware design mind set, also price of components can be kept down to a minimum adding an unneeded slot on 50 million machines is expensive.

    PS4 should be interesting. I hope they get a kick ass CPU lol
    Reply
  • aethm
    I really don't see the advantages of sticking with a cell processor. Yes... Sony spent a ton of money on it. But it's a bust. For gaming purposes you don't need a hefty CPU. Especially at high resolutions, nearly all the benchmarks show this to be true. I expect the next gen to be Full 1080P native all the time. Get in cozy with AMD or Intel and use a cheap solution. Spend the extra on a hefty GPU. Like previous posters I think that upgradable consoles will never work. However, I think that a Dual GPU solution should be strongly considered this time around. Perhaps a custom solution to keep heat under control.
    Reply