Cell Designer Talks PS3

Admit it, even if you could care less as to the arrival date for the PS3, you must be at least a little curious as to what the deal is with the famed Cell Processor?

“I’m an IBMer,” began Hofstee, chief architect of Cell. “There were a lot of IBMers on the project. It was done here in Austin, at the IBM campus…But it really was Sony, and Ken Kutaragi that was the driver for this project.

“And he spent quite a bit of money on it. $400 million for a processor…this is about as serious as it gets,” said Hofstee.

“Remarkably,” Hofstee responded to a question about size, “this chip is almost exactly the same size, in square millimeters, as the first chip that went into the PlayStation2. That’s about as explicit an answer as I can give you.”

He added, “My dream is that everyone who has a PlayStation can start programming with Cell. But, Hofstee also pointed out, “I think the biggest problem is to find ways to make it effective for the programmers.”

Game processors

“With game processors,” Hofstee noted, “Because of the economics of how game systems seems to have worked in the past – you always have to wait and see if it works that way going forward – is that game developers get a stable platform for five or six years. And because that is sort of how it works, there is a big focus on chip size and power and cost reduction over that period.”

Next-Gen asked Hofstee how he felt, as a scientist, developing technology for games. “I think games are an interesting application area, but quite clearly, Cell is not just for games. There are many other areas it can be used. Games are the thing that inspired us to do it.”

Next-Gen also mentioned the “pain in my ass,” quote by John Carmack, in reference to developing for the cell processor. “I think whenever you have competing platforms,” Hofstee responded, “There are people who really like one platform vs. the other. I’m not sure I agree with…he didn’t give me very many reasons why he feels that way. I got the impression that he’s just someone who likes PCs more.” Source: Next Generation Biz

[tags]ps3,cell processor,next-gen,competing platforms[/tags]

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