Once again Hiroshige Goto from the Japanese site PC Watch conducted an interview with Ken Kutaragi and here is the first segment in this new interview series.
A member of the Beyond3d.com forums has translated the interview to English.
PLAYSTATION 3 evolves because it's a computer
Hiroshige Goto: SCEI have always been saying PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) is not a game console but a computer. In that sense, I'd thought that it's the important point for PS3 to become a computer whether it comes with HDD standard. But it had not been made clear for a while about the standard HDD. It seems it finally reached the standard HDD through all twists and turns since 2005.
Ken Kutaragi: In my heart it was decided that we want to include HDD as the standard. However, there were various problems such as economic reasons, and we might have not been able to secure enough 2.5inch drives. An HDD-less version might have been planned. In that case it completely becomes a game console, but we want to do a computer.
With these matters, we needed resolution even though we decided to include HDD.
HG: For a game console HDD is an economic pressure. Unlike semiconductor chips HDD cost doesn't decrease. So it becomes 40-50$ cost-up through a life cycle of a game console. Though in the case of a game console its price is lowerd to $100-$200, it becomes difficult with HDD as the standard. Does it mean PS3 doesn't take a price model like a game console?
KK: After all, we don't say it's a game console (laugh) PS3 is clearly a computer unlike PSs of so far.
Obviously we have to make it a mature hardware to a certain degree to reduce the cost when we look at it as a game console. As the methodology, we have been doing cost reduction such as chip integration and power-supply reduction. Naturally we'll do the same thing for PS3.
However, as PS3 is a computer, (not only reducing the cost) but also wants to evolve. We'll want to upgrade the HDD size very soon, if new standards appear in PC we will want to support them. We may want the BD drive to write. Well, BD may not become like that though.
The meaning in that it's not a model but a configuration
HG: Since PS3 is a computer it's not bound by the limitation of the price and cost models of a game console. Is this the reason why it has HDD as the standard which is required for a computer and its hardware evolves?
KK: It's a computer not only in HDD but in the point that it fully adopted standard formats. The interface was PlayStation-only memory card slot in the past. But PS3 has only PC standard slots.
Since they are standards, of course the interfaces are open. We control no standards. You can be free because it's a computer. Also HDD can be easily upgradable for a person who can play with PC.
HG: Game consoles fix their hardware specs through their life cycles. But PS3 seems to approximate to PC in that it can change its configuration flexibly.
KK: Since PS3 is a computer there are no "models" but "configurations". This time we try to make it clear. May as well release BTO (built-to-order) list if possible (laugh) Well, but if we do it the distribution will be confused. But, with PS3, we can do BTO if we want.
HG: In an old interview you said there's no hardware called PS3 but only a meta-format. Is it possible for PS3 to do hardware configuation as long as it has the spec enough to run softwares of a certain profile?
KK: That's right. So every configuration is PS3.
HG: Is it planned that it extends its spec every year like PC?
KK: I think it's okay to release a (extended) configuration every year (laugh). Though I say it like a joke, Dell will do it and Apple will do it too. In PC, if you fix (the spec) for 2 years you'll be catched up. Computers should be changing, right? It's inevitable that 60GB (HDD) will become short, memory may become short too. There are many possibilities.
HG: Is it possible that a PS3 configuration with augmented computing power that exceeds the spec to run the PS3 game meta-format appears?
KK: Yes. If what you want to do increases, it's natural. Of course, it depends on how far what you want to do goes though.
The first party showed the PS3 title standard at E3
HG: At E3 first-party titles in development were playable, which had an impact.
KK: Advance forcasts said something like "there'll be no playable games" (laugh). No one expected that many playable games. At least, they wouldn't think playable games reached that level.
Generally speaking, a first-party should not stick out, but we showed the broad range since it's our responsibility. We have the responsibility to show the standard first.
In the days of PlayStation 1 there were arcade games at the top as the standard softwares. So SEGA and Namco that could port arcade games were strong. Games were made with arcade games as the standard.
But, this time I think PS3 excels all standards. Because of that, we thought they can't aim where they should go unless we show the standard with confidence. As the responsibility of the first party, we have to show it not only in the platform but also in softwares and other parts. The standard is like this even months before the release. Until the PS3 release in November it evolves further and further. I think it could become a kind of the standard.
HG: Relatively third parties were not noticeable. It seems there's a wide gap between the first party and third parties this time.
KK: For better or worse E3 was full of the first party. After all, they know the hardware well in the company and there is a horizontal connection in the SCEI global studio. For this event we created the demo to share various information, engines, and know-how.
Until then our studios are a conglomerate of studios which stick to (SCEI organizational) regions. About half a year before, including Harrison (Phil Harrison, President, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios) and Yamauchi (Kazunori Yamauchi, President, Polyphony Digital), we combined studios. They went offsite often, and as for E3 all studios exchanged one another and discussed everything. So it became like that.
We want top guns to show their skill on PS3
HG: The computing power of PS3 Cell far exceeds PC. Though it depends on the kind of computing, its processing performance is outstanding. But its programming model is complicated and the hurdle is high. It seems third-party develpers polarize between those who can't handle Cell and those who are very excited about Cell.
KK: Even at the time of PlayStation 1 those who were into 2D graphics were like "we can't handle PlayStation, I can't understand what it does, but it's OK as it has the library."
It's no doubt that game consoles are becoming computers today. As the result (programming) becomes different from so far. It's strange that they say it's hard to create a software when the processing performance of a game console gets higher. Nobody says he/she can't create a software because clockspeed, memory and HDD of PC get better and heavier. We want top gun (programmers) to show their skill on PS3.
HG: For now actually, developments on PS3 rely on programmers' talents and efforts. There are not yet enough libraries and middlewares to lessen the burden on developers.
KK: We continue to add middlewares. But, actually, middleware is too much for one and not enough for two. It's been always like that. It's not always true that relying on a middleware makes a good game. At least in PS3, it becomes disastrous if you don't know where to use middlewares and where to be careful.
HG: Microsoft try to realize the programming framework which was successful on PC on a game console too. They are adding standardized socket APIs on the OS.
KK: Since Microsoft is coming from PC, they say things are like that in the world of PC. But, if I look at it, I think it has no evolution.
HG: In the previous console generation, the directions of SCEI, Microsoft, Nintendo, these 3 companies were different but the difference was not so big. But, this time 3 companies turn to completely different directions. There are dramatic differences.
KK: Isn't it good if it can energize the market? If they say the same things they'll end up killing each other.
Source PC Watch via Beyond3D