PS3 Power “Infinite” vs “Limited”

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The PS3’s much vaunted Cell processor has been trumpeted as having “bottomless” capabilities by top PS3 developer Naughty Dog, although it seems not all developers are inclined to agree, with Hideo Kojima on the other hand maintaining that his magnum opus stretched the machine to its limits.

Uncharted developers Naughty Dog (who happen to be Sony owned) maintain they can happily develop on the PS3 for another 6 years:

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How comfortable are you now developing on the PS3? Are you starting to get an itch for new hardware?

“Absolutely the opposite. We’re pretty comfortable with the PS3, and we made a very big advancement between the first game and the second game, we’re really tapping into the Cell processor, but there’s more there.

The first game, it was idle about 70% of the time, which we rectified for the sequel, and now it’s at least busy 100% of the time, but it’s still not fully-optimized code.

I mean, in order to get to that 100%, it was more about making sure the pipeline was filled, and we weren’t running into one of the processors becoming idle because there wasn’t a job ready for it. But now we have to go into all of those routines and optimize them so we that can get even more done using that Cell processor.

It really feels that sometimes it’s this bottomless pit of processing power, you find the right kind of job for it and it can just churn through those things so fast, which really helps with a lot of our rendering and post-processing effects.

So yes, we’re getting comfortable. No, we’re not itching for new hardware. I would love to keep working on the PlayStation [3] for 5 or 6 more years…I think there’s still a lot to get out of it.

We’re not really feeling limited by the hardware, it’s more about the hours of the day and how quickly we want to get the next game out.”

On the other hand, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima famously explained that he was “disappointed” with the PS3 and that MGS already stretched the Cell processor to its limits:

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“When we first showed the game engine at TGS, the staff were really proud and happy. PS3 was a dream machine, y’know, and we were going to work on this and that – and we had so many ideas.

But when we actually started developing the game, we realized there were a lot of restrictions and so it turned out how you see it today. The original vision was to go ten steps further, the reality was just one step, which isn’t to say we didn’t progress.

I remember saying three years ago that we wanted to create something revolutionary, but in reality we couldn’t really do that because of the CPU. We’re using the Cell engine to its limit, actually.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the PS3 machine, it’s just that we weren’t really aware of what the full-spec PS3 offered – we were creating something we couldn’t entirely see.”

However, lately he seems to have had something of a change of heart.

Time will tell just who is correct.


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    Comment by Anonymous
    22:31 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uncharted 2 looks a lot better than MGS4 so I guess that showed him.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:03 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    MGS4 essentially runs on the same engine used by MGS2, with tweaks and additions here and there. Of course he couldn't tap into anything but the PS2 with his dated engine. MGO runs at 15-22 frames per second FFS.

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    23:07 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Cell processor? Unkown capabilities? Gee, jsut fuck all those consoles and start developing for PC, you'll get TRULY unlimited capabilites, limited only by your money and effort you wish to put into the game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:52 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    and see complaints that your game isn't running on amd machines or it runs crappily on ati graphics... or have it pirated and thus you get no money... there still is a console niche for people who can't be bothered to know what graphics or memory they have or they think its tooo expensive because they want the best everything and ended up paying 12 grand for an alienware.. which is why shovelware doesn't sell well on the pc but it sells extreeemely well on the wii. because the people who buy consoles are IDIOTS who want to stay stupid!

    Avatar of taz0x
    Comment by taz0x
    23:43 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    so.. which had better graphics then? 'cause from these pics to me it KIND of looks like MGS4 has a better look. or was Uncharted 2 like better programmed? btw i've never played either game so i wouldn't know

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:46 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    the difference is mgs4 is from a cutscene and unchartered 2 is game play but then again screenshot fuck shit up when the frames are moving

    Avatar of taz0x
    Comment by taz0x
    23:38 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    sooo.... anyone want to clarify whether Uncharted 2 had better graphics than MGS 4? i'm hearing all this GPU's and SPU's and i have no idea what people are talking about anymore (i can sort of understand...). I think i've seen a COUPLE screenshots/trailers of both Uncharted 2 and MGS4, and to me the graphics seems to be all the same... was Uncharted 2 better programmed or what?

    actually you know when i look at the pics on this article, MGS looks far better than the other game, but perhaps that's because i'm looking at some stylized cuts...

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:14 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Japanese game developers just suck at certain things.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    18:56 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I guess it's all about how you use the PlayStation 3. Some limits can be broken if you know how to use it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:56 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Im sure i read some time ago that sony originally was going to put 2 cell processors into the ps3, one for the cpu side and one as a dedicated cpu but didnt because of the cost. If this is the case then developers can and should use some of the cell in the ps3 to ofload work from the gpu and make the games faster/better. Of cause you can always get better from a pc but you have to constantly upgrade, and when the ps3 first came out i hate to think of the price of a graphics card capable of producing the same results not to mention the rest of the cost of the pc. Also the pc can produce better results but only if the games are writen for it and even then you have to put up with MS WINDOWS BLOATWARE.

    Comment by OldYellowEyes
    23:50 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hideo Kojima is full of it. I don't know why anyone would bother listening to his tripe. Same goes for Reggie and Miyamoto.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:04 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Crysis, the game with the best image ever on PC (also need industry-grade PC to max out the graphic details), still below 10GB of capacity while PS3 has Blu-ray which stores 50GBS. Consider that the unlimited potential when developers get a hand on the PS3. And it's just two year of the seventh-generation gaming.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:39 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    but isnt crysis more polygon centric rather than texture centricwhich takes up more of the space

    Avatar of El Chaos
    Comment by El Chaos
    03:32 08/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    With this mentality, the PS3 is more akin to, say, the PC Engine's CD add-on (also released at a prohibitive price point), or even SEGA's Mega CD. The entirety of the system's resources fall massively short of its data storage capacity, not the first time it has happened.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:39 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Cell procesor=exelent
    Ram=not at the lvl of todays standards
    Blu ray drive speed=2x

    Its like a dog with 2 of its legs in bad shape, but it can still do some nice tricks, but i cant do all what i is supoused to do.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:40 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    hey it needed a handicap so it can release something better 10 years after its release

    Avatar of El Chaos
    Comment by El Chaos
    03:38 08/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Funny, I was under the impression that the PlayStation 3's 256 megs of XDR DRAM, while a bit stingy of an amount, are pretty kick-ass. Maybe they should've come up with a hybrid design, using at least 384 megs of this RAM in a unified CPU/GPU pool, switch to a more efficient unified shader architecture, and nullify the latency between the Cell and the graphics subsystem. Basically, do it more like the less powerful but much more efficient Xbox 360.

    Oh yeah, and a faster BD drive, of course.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:24 17/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    To fully utilize the PS3's potential, you require extra time and money to optimise the coding amidst deadlines so 3rd party developers would rarely be able to polish games so well.

    During the mid-to-end shelf-life of the gaming consoles, PC games will show their increasing quality due to improving hardware whilst console graphics will begin to feel outdated.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:26 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    These "bottomless and infinite "statements are bullcrap... if it was infinite, your games would all be 1080p 16xAA 16XAF 60FPS with zero tears...

    If by infinite, you mean if you have infinite years then maybe you might be on to something.

    When Digital Foundry does a tear down and reveals the tricks used to compensate for graphical ability ( low AA, low res shadows, 2-d sprites etc) I call bull poo on the claims like that from EVERY DEV and platform.

    Avatar of cats
    Comment by cats
    05:26 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Compare the ps3 to the 360 and it wins in capabilities, what else is there to fucking say?

    Seriously, the rest of it's just fanboyism and the obvious.

    Leave it at if you don't have a computer that can play games on high, go for a 360, otherwise play all the dumb pc ports on your comp and get a ps3..

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:20 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why did you show in - game screenshots from Uncharted 2 but use captures taken from the cut - scenes of MGS4 in this article?

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:16 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Naughty Dog are saying that they'd be happy to knock out PS3 games for another 6 years. Let's face it, by then, the next Xbox ans Wii will be out. And I can assure every gamer on this planet that the PS3 won't last as long as the PS1 and PS2 (around 10 years). The PS3 is a great console, but it's not the best of the 3. Sony has even admitted that it's made mistakes with the PS3. I don't see the point in Sony banging on with the PS3, as within the next 2 years or so, the next console war will be starting. We'll be seeing the Wii 2, and the Xbox 720. Articles like this make me laugh. It's 2010 now, so give it another year and the rumours will start to fly. 2012 will be the start of the next console war.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:45 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ok your a dumbass the playstation has a guaranteed production span of 10 years its just that when they released the ps3 those cheap fuckers were still buying ps2s like hot cakes

    Avatar of El Chaos
    Comment by El Chaos
    03:34 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    While Kojima does develop more crap games/ hilariously incoherent half-interactive movies than he does good ones, he is right on the money on games not being art. They're mass products, and that's it. You can have a good artistic direction, appealing aesthetic/ graphic style and even kick-ass music, but that's beyond what makes a good game actually good: its mechanics.

    In that sense, the only possible, meaningful sense, stuff like Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Sid Meier's Civilization, Ketsui ~Kizuna Jigokutachi~, Pikmin or Doom are true videogame art.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:32 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    well i would just continue playing the ps3 without thinking about any problems of it

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:54 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    My major problem with the PS3 is that it works fine as a game machine, but just as with other consoles, it totally sucks as a linux workstation. The processor can be the fastest chip in the world, but if you don't have a huge amount of blindingly fast and wide system memory to go with it, the proc is useless. The PS3 beats the shit out of swap memory and it drags the system to a crawl.

    I would be willing to bet that memory management is something that even game developers struggle with and I'm sure they always wish they had the kind of memory freedom that PC development has.

    Saying that the PS3 has at least 6 more years left in it as a cutting edge platform is a bit of a stretch in my mind. I can't see how they'll get around the memory constraints and the fact that in as little as 3 years, PC video cards will be many, many times more powerful than the PS3 video, especially when running multiple GPUs.

    Long story short, as much as Sony hates the idea, the PS3 is a console, and one with a very limited life span compared to real computers that have the option of improving each subsystem in steps independently of the others.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:06 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, and Linux support doesn't exist anymore with PS3 slim. I can't talk from experience on the matter - I only use linux on PC Hardware and a GP2X myself. But what exactly are you trying to do that's making it thrash? I've got an old fileserver running happily on 256mb ram with just a celleron 700 cpu and Gentoo Linux as OS (fluxbox as wm whenever I actually use it as a computer.) And it can happily manage anything I want to do on it. I heard that the problem with linux on PS3 is that the linux OS doesn't have complete direct access to the full hardware (to prevent piracy and piss of the homebrew community/etc) and the Official Firmware is still sort-of running (and thus whoring some memory) at the same time.

    The performance you can get from the processor also comes down to a developer's ability to make the most out of CellSDK. The Cell processor is an Asymmetric multi-core thing (like a Nintendo DS and the GP2X, which both use asymetric ARM processors), which means the cores have different instruction sets and intended purposes. The Cell processor is basically a Power PC core (like macs used to use) + 8 other custom cores, each specializing in a different thing. This gives the PS3 a higher learning curve for programmers trying to write/port games to it, as they must learn how to get the most out of the CellSDK.

    In comparison, the 360 just uses a multi-core X86 processor, like most PCs do these days, and the programmer just needs to use threading to utilize the 3 cores it has (which isn't trivial, but it's tried and tested and any self-respecting programmer knows how to correctly use multiple threads anyway.) What this means is, a game designed specifically for the PS3 can go to great lengths to get everything it can out of the cell processor and its total of 9 cores, whilst a game designed with being portable between multiple platforms may not be able to go quite to the same lengths.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:46 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    actually the 360 uses a powerpc core, that is very similar to cell's single powerpc core with the only difference being that the 360 has 3 of them with no spe(the custom cores). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon_(processor)

    so yeah no x86 cpus in the 360 either, in fact the only difference between cell and xenon is the number of cores and the lack of custom cores.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:19 07/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Thanks for correcting me on that. :)

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:46 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Having two sides is the easiest way to stir up publicity.... One person reads one side. The other person reads the other side. Then they both collide in arguments.... Which is turn, makes people talk about the PS3 more.... I'm actually learning this in college now about new aged publicity. Tha best advertisement is free! Tha word of mouth!

    Plus IMHO.... They made the code weak at first.... So it can make tha PS3 look OK.... Then developers tweak up tha code.... And make PS3 seems like it's tha SHIT! Wow-ing people that tha graphics improved with any new hardware.... They sure wow-ed me! Good tactic on Sony's part! SMART ASS ASIANS! lol

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:31 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Having two sides is the easiest way to stir up publicity.... One person reads one side. The other person reads the other side. Then they both collide in arguments.... Which is turn, makes people talk about the PS3 more.... I'm actually learning this in college now and about new aged publicity. Tha best advertisement is free! Tha word of mouth!

    Plus IMHO.... They made the code weak at first.... So it can make tha PS3 look OK.... Then developers tweak up tha code.... And make PS3 seems like it's tha SHIT! Wow-ing people that tha graphics improved without any new hardware.... They sure wow-ed me! Good tactic on Sony's part! SMART ASS ASIANS! lol

    Man I hate how you can't edit you posts after you post em.

    Avatar of AJ12Gamer
    Comment by AJ12Gamer
    08:41 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Damn your smart.... Basically your saying tha publicity is actually a marketing stunt! There's no such thing as a "Bottomless" console. It's impossible!

    And also IMHO Naughty Dog, a Sony-exclusive developer, will probably get tha best of tha hardware than anybody else! 'nuff said!

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:51 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    How can it be biased to say that hardware has untapped potential when you actually released a better looking game that undeniably proves it? It's like saying that building a flying machine is possible AFTER having made one.

    There is no question. The ones saying that hardware limited them while showing off MGS characters that look like a plastic figurine from the 60s were just doing it wrong. It hurts even more when the game's director is outstanding...

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:52 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Keep in mind that there is more to a game than graphics, for obvious reasons.

    If MGS4 had, as example, cumbersomely programmed AI that hogs CPU cycles (and is multithreaded), or cpu intensive physics, or some other weird stuff, like horribly done achievement-tracking code with large memory footprint, or anything like that, or even if it had effectively programmed yet still expensive algorithms doing the same thing, there's less power left to do the graphics with.

    Uncharted 2 offloading a considerable percentage of the graphics work to the SPUs because those SPUs hadn't been busy to begin with, is obviously only possible if the SPUs weren't already busy doing other things.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:09 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't know what you are smoking but Uncharted 2 definitely looks better than MGS4. And yet MGS4 is a dual layer Blu-Ray(50GB worth of data).

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:39 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's so hard to tell who's really giving the right review about things when there's so much bias going around.

    Avatar of Tasche
    Comment by Tasche
    05:27 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i agree, lots of developers say that the ps3 is hard to work with thus said that developing for the 360 then porting it over made it easier, which clearly makes the ps3 version inferior.

    But clearly its the developers who are lazy, not everything is so simple, and new technology means you need to adapt. i think Squenix games for the ps2 is a good example of how they continuously improved their graphics and game while using the limit of the ps2.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:37 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    you have no idea of how a company work. your knowledge of how corporation runs is same as a primary student who like to ask why is the world this way and not that.
    have you ever heard anything called cost effective? there is a budget cost do everything. developers just choose the more cost efficient way. just imagine why i have to put millions of dollars worth of research into something that would not bring any profit into the company?
    spend big cash into making ps3 graphic 5% better is not something people who have the right mind would do.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:10 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm glad the unchanging console platform hardware is putting more attention on the skills of their devs. Just because a program stretches the hardware capabilities to its limits doesn't mean it came even close to its effective potential. I was part of a now sinking game studio and I can attest just how much undeserved the faith people put into coders really is. The best ones out there (and ain't talking about myself) are too often treated like shit in this field because their bosses are seldom qualified to judge their competence. Nowadays, it's all about being the first to release shit even if it barely compiles and screams in agony.

    You would not believe how shitty and inefficient some of the code can be. Most of the management out there is not going to notice that genius' dev who does things better in less cycles with a smaller memory footprint as opposed to the average coder who manages to deliver more solutions to problems on time, despite being horrible hacked-up workarounds that makes a fast modern machine feel like an antiquated shitbox trying to set itself on fire rather than being raped by the shitty coding.

    And of course, they're the ones who keep their job when shit hits the fan! God fucking damnit, why didn't I pick an art major instead...

    Avatar of Sylar
    Comment by Sylar
    15:10 08/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Finally someone who speaks the truth. But the companies unfortunately are forced to work like that because they have deadlines and they longer it takes something to complete the bigger is the cost. Also this works in favor of hardware sellers especially in the PC with constant upgrades. PC's may have powerful processors and powerful cards but only 30% of that power is fully used, in the end all the other 70% is wasted on fixing the bad programming that needs more power. In consoles this phenomenon is smaller because they make better use of the hardware but still only at the end of a consoles life some companies manage to use 90% of the potential.Good example is PS2. When the PS3 was released a few PS2 games that came out at that time had the best graphics i ever saw in PS2 that even came close to the first PS3 and X-box 360 games. And if we consider that the console is not even as good as a Geforce3, then you can imagine how wasted the computer raw power is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:07 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Truth, brother.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:16 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    However, Kojima used the PS3 to the limit they can reach, but not the limit the PS3 itself is able to reach. Many games after MGS4 have rendered graphics that look improved (Among Thieves is one example I'd name of that). The same happened with the PS2 (look at FFX compared to FFXII, or God of War with its sequel; the later game looks much more improved graphically than the previous on the same system).

    The only thing hindering the PS3's capabilities are the developers themselves. If they learn to utilize the console's power, then greater improvement can be reached.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:13 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It is pretty obvious that these developers are not using the full capabilities of the PS3. They are not even fully using the capabilities of the Xbox 360 and multi-core PCs. Most of the time they don't do proper multithreading in their games and instead program specific parts to a specific core which doesn't take advantage of a multi-core system. If they can't even do proper multithreading then they can't even do proper coding for the Cell Processor.

    PS. For people that are using the 7800 gt in the PS3 as proof that the system can't do as much you would be wrong. At a point in the past the CPU did the graphical work but as the graphics got to be too much for the cpu to do along with other processing manufacturers decided that graphics needed a dedicated card. That leads me to the Cell processor which from looking at the specs I can tell that it is made to handle graphics and is powerful enough to process the graphics.

    PPS. They are going in that direction with PC CPUs also by putting graphics processing capabilities on the CPU.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:26 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    While I agree with some of the points in your first paragraph, I can't agree with your PS.
    The Cell processor was not made to handle graphics, or at least in the way I think you're implying. There's a reason Sony slapped a dedicated GPU, the RSX, onto the PS3. The biggest being the Cell SPEs' Local Store. Essentially an isolated 256KB of RAM that a single SPE can see at a single time. That's not enough for a single frame, not too great for textures nor much geometry. Sure there's DMA, but then, that's going around the problem of not being tailored towards graphics.
    Of course, this isn't to say the Cell is useless as developers are pushing out great looking games. It's a powerful supplement to a dedicated GPU - deferred rendering and fancy stuff I can't pretend to know about. But alone, the Cell processor won't be able to "handle graphics".

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:28 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wasn't really trying to say that the Cell processor would do the graphics alone. I was saying that the 7800 GT isn't the only part that processes the graphics and it has gone back to the way it was originally done (partially) which was on the CPU. That means you can't look at the graphics card and say it is going to be behind other systems since graphics processing is shared between the graphics processor and the CELL Processor.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:43 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It seems like the 360 has some great potential at least: http://www.alanwake.com/

    Gotta admit I'm not that familiar with console games though... ~~

    Avatar of RopeXPantsu
    Comment by RopeXPantsu
    07:06 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "I would love to keep working on the PlayStation [3] for 5 or 6 more years…"
    5 years? Hahaha, as if!

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:20 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You're right. We'll be looking at 10 more years of the PS3. :D

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:25 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not another 10, it'll last to be 10 years old itself (it's only 3 years old now, it'll be 4 in Nov 2010). No company other than Nintendo is going to be in a rush to release a brand new console that has noticeably better graphics than the PS3 and at a better price than the PS3 is now in this crap economy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:18 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The PS2 is almost 10 years old. I know logic does suck doesn't it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:17 06/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So uh.... they stopped working on it? No they didnt.....

    These people get paid to develop games on the PS3 and they look better than most 360 games excluding racers...






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