Thursday, June 30, 2005

Console Kafuffle!

I've spent a good part of the past couple years talking to developers about multi-threading and the transition to multi-core architectures is going to be necesary, and difficult. Along the same lines, I've been saying that Sony's claims that Cell is the greatest thing since the sliced bread are exagerated at best, and that developers are going to have a hard time getting that platform to dance.

Anandtech posted an article about MS & Sony's next gen consoles basically concluding the same thing and stating that it's going to be next to impossible for developers to extract the performance out of these architectures equal to that of their perf stats.

They've evidently caught a lot of heat about the article and it's been pulled. However, an excerpt can be found here.

A quote from the above article here: (in case that gets pulled too):

"developer difficulties with the new hardware—even extreme, hair-pulling, this-just-ain't-gonna-work difficulties—are not surprising, and in fact have been expected all along by anyone who has analyzed this hardware. There's really not much news here. This hardware makes a number of developer-unfriendly leaps that PC hardware won't make for some time, and it makes those leaps in some ways that exacerbate the associated pain. By the time PC hardware makes those leaps, it'll be vastly easier to code for two reasons: a) software development will have had time to transition to the multicore paradigm and b) those multiple cores will each be more programmer-friendly (i.e., dynamic execution hardware, good branch prediction, more cache) than the cores that power Cell and Xenon."

Sorry if I sound like I've been toking on the Intel bong too much, but it's about time someone called these guys out on the carpet. None of these consoles is "miracle hardware". Everybody is bound by the same physical & manufacturing limitations, the same programming challenges, etc. Different implementations make different tradeoffs, but to think that a $300 box is going to pull ahead by orders of magnitude more performance is ludicrous.

That being said, Mark's a great speaker and his Cell presentation from GDC is worth watching. (Sorry to dis your platform Mark!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The new consoles will definitely be hard to code for, in terms of hardnessing their inherent power. However, hard does not imply impossible. Some teams will do amazing work, leaving other games in the dust; many (or even most) teams won't. This is the generation that will tell the men from the boys (and the women from the girls).