Join Date: Oct 2010
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Sony could add a CELL CHIP
Originally Posted by Pawsed
While it would ensure an easy transition from PS3 to PS4 development, and yes Backwards compatibility, there are a few key reasons they most likely one. One is exactly like you said - it's not limited to game systems. It's a very generalized processor, and that's not always the best idea. The more you add to an instruction set, the more space used on a chip, the more spread-out and complicated the connects etc etc. A balance is always needed. The CELL is designed for super computing, and thus neglects a lot of on chip features games might need (though realistically, PS3's limitation is it's GPU). The way they get around this is by running these functions virtually - the simple concept being if a processor can add 1 and 1, and 2 and 2 it needs to add 1 to 1, then add 1, then add to 1, all done symbolically via the underlying software. Basic explanation, but the if it could directly add 2 and 2, then you'd do it a lot quicker. Modern functions and needs are far more complex, but the point is the same. The Cell forgoes a lot of things in the name of super-computing speed. PS3 makes up for lacks by wasting processing cycles.
Now, more CELLs could improve this by offering more threads, but the more you fragment code like that the more waiting eventually occurs in real time applications like gaming. It works in super computers because the threads can run independent. But gaming threads are so related that you don't want to super fragment it like that, lest you start virtualizing a lot of important functions because they're being split over multiple cores and having to wait for everything to occur, wasting tons of clock cylces.
The simpler answer to why they won't use CELL though, is two fold. One, CELL programming is more complex. While the current devs may have a handle on it, it still creates a problem where they've got to make code run on CELL and on the more standard paradigms of the 360's hardware (and Wii U but that's fairly standard as well). This is why many games look better cross platform on 360 - it's easier to code for, and they use tools to convert to PS3 which don't produce optimal results (they've gotten a lot better).
While you might argue "Well the devs seem to have it figured out now," you need to recognize that most of that is working off existing engines for the current platforms. Add in higher SPE count CELLs, or more CELL chips in parallel, and then throw in the fact that they're all going to be writing new engines for the next gen platforms (well, some will work off others work but same difference).
Sony has two goals in not using the CELL - One, put in hardware that is in line specwise with what the 720 ends up with. They want to be 'faster' for sure, but realistically they don't want to be highly custom this time around - while they had the more powerful system, it ended up being detrimental for so long that it hurt their market share because developers had trouble with it, or ported results looked crappy. 360 was extremely easy to port to from Windows, but PS3 not so much. Look at the list of 360 console exclusives and you'll see a ton of them also exist on the PC - be it MS porting to PC, or PC devs porting to 360, it was still easy to do and meant more console exclusives for MS, and more profits from console games on 360 that could also be sold on PC without much dev. Now look at PS3 exclusives. You'll see that next to none made it to PC. One, because Sony owned titles are meant as system sellers, but also because 3rd party titles are often too highly optimized to cost effectively port.
So by not using the CELL, they would hope to open the door to more ports of other console's games (that look good), and get devs on board all over. be it PC or console, due to ease of development.
The other major reason they won't use the CELL again - PS3 games.
They do NOT want backwards compatibility. Yes, WE want it. But they recognized a while back, with sales of PS2 remakes, that not having PS2 games work in all but the earlier PS3's, has meant there is a market for PSN and retail collections/bestof/remakes of not just PSOne, but PS2 games as well.
On PS4 even more so. Your friend got a PS4 and it's backwards compatible? Lend them your copies of Uncharted 1-3. Wait, it's not backwards compatible? Well what do you know, Sony's got a collection of Uncharted 1-3 for the PS4 for only $39.99 for your friend to enjoy.
The market has overwhelmingly shown they'll buy these collections if they can't simply pop their games in. They sell like hotcakes, and take very little to make. This is one of the top reasons they won't use CELL. And without CELL on board, they aren't about to start another research program to make a new chipset like CELL - so they're going to standard chipset architecture manufacturers and getting customized chips from them. This is a win-win in their book - more games for the system, more compatibility and easier development, and they get to sell tons of PSN/PS4 disc collections of PS3 remakes in addition to PS2 and PSOne. Expect this to be the new trend. Instead of offering backwards compatibility, they just start putting old system titles in their cloud for whatever new system comes out - for a fee.
Use CELL as an IO controller just like they did with the original PS2 chipset in the PS3 or SOC(System on a chip). Cell chips will be dirt cheap, now many many millions have been made and sold by now.