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GoWIII Team: PS3 SPUs Faster Than "Many Developers Think"

By now, you would figure that most developers have discovered much of the PlayStation 3's potent capability, but SCEA says that many designers haven't quite grasped the system's potential just yet.

As reported by GameZine, the team responsible for God of War III says the PS3's SPUs are "much faster than many developers think they are." Sony Santa Monica team members Jim Tilander and Vassily Filippov gave a keynote at last month's GDC entitled, "Practical SPU Programming," and the audience learned a great deal about the technical specifics surrounding Sony's machine. During the speech, they explained how the SPUs "aren't actually coprocessors but are full general purpose processors that can handle code directly lifted from the PPU." And, oh yeah, they're extremely fast. As it turns out, the studio used these very capable SPUs to "accelerate both the PlayStation 3's GPU (RSX) and the PPU." Basically, if GoWIII turns out to be as incredible as we all hope it will be, you're going to have to thank the SPUs, which clearly handle a great deal of the workload. In the end, the team asked developers to recognize the "parallel nature" of Sony's console, and not to view the SPUs as a "special case."

Speed is everything. The PS3 allows developers to do things with a console they've never been able to do before, but it takes some effort and dedication to tap into the majority of the machine's power. We say, keep pluggin' away.

Related Game(s): God of War III

4/7/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (54 posts)

Nynja
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 12:49:07 PM
Reply

Love stuff like this, keep 'em coming.

Really curious how they handle the parallel processing with the SPUs and boost the GPU capabilities. I heard that GG did the same thing for Killzone 2.

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GHill4Life
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:38:35 PM

Agreed. I've read quite a bit about how the PS3's GPU is not as advanced as the 360's as well as memory limitatations with 256/256 as opposed to the 512 of MS's machine. I am replaying MGS4 and amazed, with all due respect to KZ2 and Gears, as to what a fantastic looking game it is.

Here's hoping GoW III lives up to the trailers. Should be a lot of fun.

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:46:49 PM

@GHill4Life

The PS3 memory architecture is different from the 360, not less advanced. 360 is a unified memory architecture, which is simply another way of saying that you have no dedicated video memory and steal what you need from main memory. PS3 segregates the memory into Video and system. There is an advantage, inherent in this, the available bandwidth to memory in the 360 is limited to the system bus, because main memory is shared with the GPU, but in PS3 the segregated memory means that RSX can hit video memory at full speed, at the same time as the Cell is hammering the XDR system RAM, which results in a far higher theoretical bandwidth. That XDR RAM that PS3 uses is also a good deal faster than the memory used by the 360.

The downside of the PS3 scheme is that you only ever have 256MB of system memory that is shared between the OS (XMB) and games. On the other hand, you know absolutely that you will always have 256MB of video memory, and you know that you will always have 256 (minus XMB footprint) for your game. You don't have to shuffle things around in order to free up memory for the GPU. In a unified memory scheme, a game running with a high resolution and color depth along with all it's textures and other GPU resident data will chew up more memory leaving less available for the game.

As with most differences between PS3 and 360, the PS3 is not less advanced, it has a different design philosophy.

Yes, I am a geek. I apologize. ;-)

Last edited by Highlander on 4/7/2009 1:48:19 PM

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www
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:34:42 PM

Highlander you're a geek...lol...apologies accepted.
It's not a bad thing,i like ya type, since i don't really know jack sh** about tech.

Last edited by www on 4/7/2009 2:35:02 PM

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chaosrunner
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 3:44:51 PM

@Highlander

A good friend of mine was in both game and chip development for a long time and I think she could take a lesson from you on how to explain complex technical issues to people who, while not oblivious, are at least not hard core techies.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:08:37 PM

Okay so can we finally lay to bed the xbot argument that the 360 GPU is superior since devs finally see that you aren't supposed to dump the whole workload onto the PS3's GPU in the first place?

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Highlander
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 9:34:58 AM

Yes, definitely. Originally the PS3 would not have had a GPU because the Cell would have done all the heavy lifting. Not sure of the specifics, but at some point it was decided to go with one Cell and a GPU.

I think the original idea was to go with two Cells and no GPU - Cell is actually designed to run in multi-processor configurations. However the RSX contains some specialist graphics and sound functionality that would otherwise have had to be done in software, so in the end, it kind of works out.

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Juanalf
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:08:27 PM
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hopefully GOWIII turns out amazing not like the leaked footage which I now wish I haven't seen.

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BTNwarrior
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:42:39 PM

do you mean that crappy spike vga trailer? because the titan trailer puts that to shame

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Banky A
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 12:28:25 AM

Nope, there is supposed leaked footage of the game.

It show Kratos in normal 3rd person atop a Cyclops.

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Dridion
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 3:18:33 AM

yea and its BAD. I mean dude im so pro sony/GoW but this is just bad. It looks like ps2. This means a lot coming from me. No lie!!!

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englishgolfer
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:08:59 PM
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starting to sound like the ps3 juggernaut is gathering more and more speed. soom it'll be unstopable....

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slugga_status
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:10:32 PM
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I heard the same in regards to Killzone 2. Devs need to take their time and tap into all the PS3 can do.

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:29:52 PM
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This is exactly what Sony has said from the get go, it's exactly what IBM said from the get go. It's exactly what any geek worth their salt who knows the Cell design has said from the get go.

I'm always disappointed when one of the luminaries of game development, be it Carmack or Newell comes along and makes some glib statements dismissing the Cell in particular and PS3 architecture in general. These guys should be at the front of the line clamoring for the opportunity to make the thing sing, but curiously they seem to prefer worrying about the relative sales numbers of different consoles in order to make their development choice.

The SPEs (SPUs) on the cell are terrifically quick RISC processors in their own right, they are highly optimized for single precision floating point calculations, and they have their own local memory which runs at the same clock speed as the processor. In other words each SPU is a computer on a chip running at 3.2GHz with 256KB of RAM running also at 3.2GHz. Considering that there are seven of these plus the PPU on the Cell, that's a hell of a lot of compute power.

Just for fun, do some searching on the most recent iteration of Cell technology. The SPUs have been further optimized for double precision floating point and are several times faster than they were in the version PS3 uses. Should Sony ever build a PS4, they would be well advised to sign up for the Cell for that Box as the road map for Cell has a chip with 4 PPUs and 32 SPUs. Considering the performance gains already made through existing enhancements, that generation of Cell will be terrifyingly fast.

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ps92117
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:33:23 PM

As i have heard IBM, is enhancing the cell but with the ps3 in mind (as in upgrading it but so that it will still work same as the current cell). Have they take a different rute and decided to upgrade the newer cells without the ps3's version cell architecture in mind(as in ps3's current software wont be able to run on it). Or are they going both ways? PLZ I would like to know.

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:49:43 PM

@ps92117

IBM continues to enhance the Cell BE (Broadband Engine) as used in the PS3 by shrinking it to smaller process technology, first from 90nm to 65nm and then to 45nm. Each shrink increases the % of 'good' Cells produced per wafer, as well as reducing the power consumption of the chip. So they get cheaper and cooler.

As well as this IBM has another series based on the Cell design that they use in their High Performance super computers. This has been enhanced both in terms of process technology as well as design updates to improve specific performance or add specific functionality.

IBM's roadmap goes to 32nm next, but we should have at least a couple of years at 45nm before the 32nm process is ready to go.

We can expect that the Cell processor in four years will be a 32nm chip running at least 3.2GHz with major enhancements to the design and many more PPU and SPE cores on the chip.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:13:49 PM

Could the smaller technology drive down the cost of producing a PS3?

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 5:05:16 PM

Yes, both Cell and RSX will move to newer process technology over time resulting in smaller, cooler components that cost less to make. Already part of the reason that Sony no longer loses more than $300 per PS3 sold is that the cost of Cell, RSX and BluRay drives have dropped. Also lower power components with less heat require smaller, cheaper cooling systems and less powerful power supplies.

IIRC the loss to Sony per PS3 sold is less than $50 right now, mostly this is a direct result of cheaper blue laser diodes (for BluRay) and the smaller RSX and Cell chips.

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godsman
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 6:12:40 PM

yes... what he said

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infekt
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 10:44:43 PM

@TheHighlander: You need to start writing for PSXExtreme (if you don't already). I would love to hear about the technical marvels used in games.

Last edited by infekt on 4/7/2009 10:45:10 PM

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 11:44:40 PM

@infekt

LOL, thanks. I appreciate the thought. Sadly my employer would probably be a tad unhappy if I spent any more time than I do already writing online. My job involves a tremendous amount of waiting for databases to do their work, so I can take 5-10 minutes here and there all day long to browse and comment.

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Fenrir
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 7:18:44 AM

My job includes that waiting for database jobs, too. And Iīm glad that another one like you is writing in this forum. Unfortunatly I canīt give you a click on the UP-thumb, because itīs not working with my German explorer here, therefore my respect and greetings on this way. Hope to read more from you. :-)

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dveisalive
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:48:40 PM
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I heard that GG used 67% of the PS3's power, so that leaves more room for improvement. the PS3's SPU's could emulate an xbox 360 lmaol! Its just the fact PS3 has the power to handle CGI graphics barely if done right. give a team 5-10 years to make a game for PS3 and the end results are amazing. But us consumers get impatient, so who wants to wait for a game for 5 years again?

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www
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:42:20 PM

Glad ya said it yaself,cause we're impatient,we can't wait that long.

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karneli lll
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 1:56:13 PM
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Its human nature to fear change.Some like valve become intimidated by change and reject it, others (need i mention them)embrace change and evolve as a result.

What we're seeing now is the fear subsiding,

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:15:46 PM

Excellent point, which is also why I think SE was scared to put the cost into development for PS3 in any RPG other than FFXIII. Since 360 is just a stripped down PC I'd imagine putting a game on there is pretty easy, albeit limiting.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 4/7/2009 4:16:11 PM

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www
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:46:15 PM
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GOWIII will tap ps3's power alright,but i feel FFXIII and FFvXIII will truly use almost if not all ps3's power.I don't know but i still kinda trust Square-Enix.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:18:26 PM

I will remain skeptical. While Final Fantasies since the PS1 days have pushed the system's limits, this time SE doesn't seem to have the slightest idea what they are doing with the PS3. They even had to cancel Last Remnant because they couldn't dev it on PS3. Let's just pray that Crystal Tools works and they don't cut tons of corners because they are already bending over backwards for the 360 version to be released.

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NoSmokingBandit
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 2:49:47 PM
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I love how just a year ago everyone was still whining about the ps3 and how hard it is to develop for, and now awesome games like KZ2 are here, with GoWII on the way, and the devs tell us how easy it is. Its funny how the guys who make great games think its an easy console to work with, yet the shitty developers only want to complain. It seems like they want to push their own inadequacies onto the hardware.
Theres a phrase musicians often use: "Only a terrible musician blames his instrument."

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englishgolfer
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 3:54:57 PM

Theres a phrase musicians often use: "Only a terrible musician blames his instrument."

funny.... that's what my wife says to me.

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JofaMang
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 7:49:01 PM

Hilarious, she says the same thing to me, too!

;)

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bearbobby
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 7:54:01 PM

@englishgolfer


lol, ouch man.

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King James
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 3:47:34 PM
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Tell SCEA's statements to S-E

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jdt1981
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 3:54:23 PM
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I always knew that the CELL processor and Blu-Ray are the main things that separate the PS3 from other platforms. The CELL is even capable of carrying some of the computational load of graphics, so when people compare the graphics capabilities of the PS3 with other platforms they can't just look at the RSX GPU. I can't wait to see how GOWIII turns out.

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xnonsuchx
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 12:47:56 AM

The RSX is based on the GeForce 7800-series chipset while the XENOS in the 360 is somewhat akin to the Radeon X1900-series. The latter does have more raw capability than the other, but the RSX was purposely designed to be able to handle the basics of HD signal output and other basic video processing, not be the main powerhouse of the PS3.

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Robochic
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:06:12 PM
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I can't wait for this game, i hope it's going to be great but what i saw from the trailer on PSN its going to be amazing :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:22:13 PM
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Great discussion here, Highlander you are the master of tech now, go sit on your techie throne over there because no one else is gonna come close to explaining the stuff that well.

All I can say for certain is that I can't wait to put the smackdown on Zeus and giggle to myself privately when magazines, sites, and journalists try very very hard to malign GoWIII in their reviews: "Oh look there's a texture that isn't absolutely perfect! Knock a point off the score!"

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 4/7/2009 4:23:27 PM

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LegendaryWolfeh
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:54:25 PM

Omg that leaf went the opposite directoin of the wind while all the rest went with it, -2.0 points XD

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Alienange
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 6:52:59 PM

"It only comes on one disc so it's not as epic as we'd have hoped." -2.0 points

Last edited by Alienange on 4/7/2009 6:53:21 PM

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Highlander
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 11:49:01 PM

They'll do it. I know that Lair wasn't necessarily the greatest game ever, but some of the reviews were just stupid. Reviewers with pre-conceptions annoy the crap out of me. The ones that seemed to believe that their dragon should fly like an F-16 make me laugh my butt off. I thought that one of the points of Lair was that you used sixaxis control to simulate holding the reigns of a Dragon. A multi-ton fire breathing beast with bat-like wings. Now OK, that *could* describe and F-16, but a Dragon certainly can't pull 6G without hurting itself and having the rider slide off it's back.

The hacks will have the knive out for GoWIII when it arrives, mark my words, som crappy little publication will give it 60% just to cripple the Metacritic score.

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Ultimate_Balla
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 4:40:05 PM
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Fo Sho It*s Gonna Live To The Hype! It*s Not Gonna Give Us A MK: Armaggedon, They Better Not. Lol.

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SnipeySnake
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 5:00:29 PM
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They should have did this april fools joke: God of war 3 will also be imported to the 360. I wonder if the 360 fans would be happy..but then they would get crushed >:D

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godsman
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 6:11:27 PM

Port it to xbox and watch them all RROD? nice move

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Qwarktast1c
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 5:13:42 PM
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this game is gonna be so badass that its gonna rip a hole in the space-time continuum!!!!

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RadioHeader
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 5:40:24 PM
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I'm quite the no-hoper when it comes to this stuff, but I liked the tech demo for KZ2 where the developer showed how the SPUs each created certain layers. It seemed to me that simplified tasks for each of them would combat any framerate issues.
I obviously still can't comment on even a semi-intelligent level, but I almost feel like I nearly came close to learning something that day.

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Jian2069
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 6:05:40 PM
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Yep. Now we see how much money microsoft can pay people.

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Alienange
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 6:57:37 PM
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I didn't know a darn thing about SPUs when I bought the PS3. Nor did I care. I bought the PS3 for GoWIII (and a bunch of other greatness). Still, having read all that gobbledygook from TheHighlander, I'm glad the PS3 has them.

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txgamer
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 7:18:36 PM
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I'm wondering what the games are gonna look like 2 years from now on the PS3.I'm sure there will more amazing game engines to fully utilize the PS3 abilities.

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alphaneuron
Tuesday, April 07, 2009 @ 9:11:45 PM
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<a href="http://gymer.wordpress.com">gymer.wordpress.com</a>

@Highlander

It is exciting to hear about a 4 PPU, 32 SPU cell processor. I wonder how much it would cost, whether they could possibly bring the cost down to consumer levels.

One possibility I've wondered about is a "PS3 computer". We know it's already possible to use the PS3 as a full-fledged computer running Linux, albeit a little limited because of the low memory. (Adequate for a game console but not quite for a general purpose computer.) How about taking that 32 SPU processor, adding a few gigs of *cheap* memory and making a fully fledged PC out of it? I can think of several advantages.

First, combining the kind of sales achieved by game consoles and PCs would allow huge economies of scale and cost reductions.

Second, it would create the sort of developer synergy currently enjoyed by the 360 and the PC. Devs might have an irresistible reason to invest in the platform and its programming paradigms.

Third, it might make inroads into new markets and demographics. There are a lot of people who would pay $800 for a good PC but not $400 for a good game console. Those people would now have a machine that's BOTH a game console and a PC. You then have a colossal install base. Sony already has an understanding of the PC business.

In fact, I just had a brainwave: what if the recent merger of the PS3 and PC divisions in Sony is a strategic move leading to the PS3 computer? :D One can dream.

Of course, there are disadvantages, too. The "game console" branding would be affected. This would also be viewed as a major competitive move by companies like intel and Microsoft, which have a huge stake in the PC market. So they might gang up to try to take down Sony (but Sony'd have IBM on its side).

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slackernz
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 4:17:58 AM
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I gotta stop reading GOW3 news.. My excitement for this game is reaching ridiculous levels

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slackernz
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 4:17:58 AM
Reply



Last edited by slackernz on 4/8/2009 4:18:25 AM

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RadioHeader
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 6:06:36 AM
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lol slackernz, I hear ya.

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rell
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 @ 7:57:25 AM
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4PPU's and 32SPU's oh crap thats overkill awesome stuff though, I need to take a class in technology. I cant wait until GOWIII it will OWNED naysayers.

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Soultaker
Thursday, April 09, 2009 @ 8:34:41 PM
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All I have to say is wow lol I mean I only know alittle here and there but all this tech talk is so interesting!! God of War 3 looks awesome!

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