Guerrilla dev: PS3's Cell CPU is by far stronger than new Intel CPUs

The PS3's cell CPU is still more powerful than any of today's modern Intel desktop chips, Guerrilla Games co-director and technical director Michiel van der Leeuw says.

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Jin_Sakai1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

“Even desktop chips nowadays, the fastest Intel stuff you can buy is not by far as powerful as the Cell CPU, but it's very difficult to get power out of the Cell. I think it was ahead of its age, because it was a little bit more like how GPUs work nowadays, but it was maybe not balanced nicely and it was too hard to use. It overshot a little bit in power and undershot in usability, but it was definitely visionary”

Sony Worldwide Studios pushed what the Cell CPU was capable of and it showed. It’s too bad it was such a pain to develop for and wasn’t used to it’s full potential by 3rd party developers.

Can’t imagine what the Cell CPU would be like today if it were standardized and developers learned how to develop for it.

Jaguar CPUs in current generation consoles are garbage and a huge bottleneck. So happy we’re getting powerful Ryzen desktop CPUs next generation.

UltraNova1633d ago


I remember the ps3 launch days like yesterday. The weird -out of this world adds, the discussions, the benchmarks... it was everything a new console gen had to be to make that period magic. Unfortunately, we wont get to live that "magic" again as Sony and MS will never risk making such revolutionary tech as the Cell.

That said, AMD and their Ryzen 2 architecture are beasts in their own right. Every tech blog/site praises it for its efficiency, IPS and multicore performance. The current RDNA GPU architecture is not top tier yet but I have high hopes in Sony's and MS's customization abilities so that means we will get significantly improved Navi chips with the next gen consoles with Ray tracing to boot. Add the fact that next gen will be designed around SSDs and yeah the advancements over current gen are evident.

All in all the wait for next gen full spec reveal and their launch is still exciting and I'm happy for that.

1633d ago
frostypants1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Just to be clear, the Cell was primarily developed by IBM (one of the few truly interesting things IBM has done in recent years, IMO...far more interesting than their overhyped Watson nonsense), with Sony and Toshiba attached. They actually sold servers using it as well, but even in that market it's pretty much dead now. The software side of things just never caught up...be it gaming, business, or science applications, it was too much manual effort for devs to take advantage of the architecture and the community never got the critical mass to address that (because developing those tools would have been a massive task itself, and there wasn't enough adoption to justify the effort).

It's a bummer because it was pretty amazing. But future CPUs will have more and more in common with the Cell.

milohighclub1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Leave it to ducktard to think he knows better than the technical director and studio veteran Michiel van der Leeuw
who had 20yrs @ guerilla under his belt.

Zeref1633d ago

It's not revolutionary if it's a pain in the butt to develop for 😂

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sprinterboy1633d ago

Agreed, imagine the games today on ps4 if they went with the cell and 8gb ram? Instead of the jaguar? Great talented studios got the best out of the cell but because 360 was the lead console at the time it never got the love it deserved from 3rd party (lazy devs and cell being hard to use contributed)

JG101633d ago

I wouldn't say lazy, my guess would be not wanting to spend the money for the extra man hours it would take

Minute Man 7211633d ago

So what happened when EA made that Burnout game on the PS3 first and ported it to the 360?? The Xbox ran the game just fine. No downgrade, no framerate problems.

ApocalypseShadow1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

I still wonder to this day what the Cell was capable of if all 8 SPEs were turned on and was towards games and not worrying about all the other features people expected the system to have based on Xbox launching first. Not one journalist has asked about 8 SPEs turned on.

I think first party games would have been even better. Just think what Killzone 2 or Motorstorm would have been like.

Not only that, but based on Folding at Home, I think if two or three PlayStations or Cell pack expansions were connected, the power would have been ridiculous. GT would have looked even more real than it did.

UltraNova1633d ago

I'm still wondering what a Cell v2.0 with 2 or 4 PPEcores + 16 SPEs could do today that devs are finally accustomed to parallel/multicore coding...

DarXyde1633d ago

One SPE was always disabled for yield defect purposes; the other ran in reverse for the operating system.

It was a strange architecture, for sure.

frostypants1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

To this day, tools do not exist to make developing an application that takes full advantage of the Cell an efficient process. Yes, more could have been done, but even developing for a slightly gimped Cell was difficult (we're only talking about one SPE here though...I'd argue nobody ever took full advantage of even the available ones). The software development infrastructure available to efficiently develop for that sort of architecture was, and remains, SO far behind the hardware capability. Somebody needs to develop the tools for the developers, and even if the community pushing for that was larger it is still a highly difficult task. If it's extremely difficult (not simply time consuming) for devs to manually figure out the best way to balance/distribute the processing burden, that makes automating it well even more insanely tough. It's hard to automate complex trial and error.

ApocalypseShadow1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Darxyde, I'm aware about redundancy and one for applications. It still doesn't answer the question on what 8 SPEs could have done.

Would 2 more working have created even better physics or explosions or helped with A.I., etc. It would be an interesting interview to hear it from a Sony developer. Or from someone on the Ice Team. But no one has asked.

When I mention looks, it's about that extra that makes something more real. I doubt the graphics would have changed much. But physics and A.I. could have looked amazing with more help. Motorstorm already had great mud. But crashes would have looked even better. Maybe even more frame rate speed. I don't know. But would like to know. When Sony showed that gas station explosion tech demo, I expected more. Same with that Getaway demo of all the people and vehicles. Or the car being shot in the desert and the bullet holes tech demo. I wanted more of that in games on PS3.

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PlayableGamez-1633d ago ShowReplies(6)
fatbastard111633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Where’s the source on desktop CPUs? They’re most likely custom downscaled versions and not even close to the clock speeds of desktop Ryzens. Do people really think they’re getting a RTX 2070+Desktop Ryzen+2Tb SSD for $500? That’s the definition of delusion.

milohighclub1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

Dont forget sony will be shifting at least 60 million of all the components. They will be purchasing them in the 10s of millions and will get them at a fraction of a price.

Seems they have a very good relationship with AMD at the moment so expect they're getting good deals.

Whatever's In the box you can expect performance gains above what a 2070 can do.
It doesnt even launch for another year, dont expect it to be outdated on launch this time.
Then wait til the likes of naughty dog max it out.
100% there'll be nothing that comes close to what it'll be doing, on xbox or pc.

PC and X will mostly be held back by the xbox one x thanks to their forward compat. xbox family.

Loktai1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

The CELL continued to be used in IBM enterprise level equipment and where the base OS is capable of distributing use of cores across LPARs(logical partitions, like a virtual machine instance that can be IPLd separately as needed) it's quite efficient . It's really a PPC style RISC core ...

Rude-ro1633d ago (Edited 1633d ago )

It was controlled..
not about how hard it was to develop for..
Anything new is hard to wrap your head around..
But there are higher powers that did not want Sony creating a better pathway in computing.
To say it came down to developing video games and the eventual tools that got released is a total lack of reality.

To take on how computing works is to take on Microsoft, google, Apple etc... Apple has their own game plan, but Microsoft could have been put in a huge pickle at the time.

Nineball21121633d ago

Does anyone else remember being able to use the function on your PS3 that allowed colleges or research teams to use your PS3 in a network? I think they were using the CELL to run different research programs or something like that.

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phoenixwing1633d ago

almost makes you wonder what it would have been like if they'd kept making cell based consoles for ps4 and 5. However, i think sony made the right move as a business. People just aren't willing to spend a lot and cheaper off the shelf cpu's cut costs significantly.

DarXyde1633d ago

I would not exactly call the next generation hardware off the shelf. It is based on familiar architecture, but that's it—both are custom built and will very likely synergize well with the other components far better than any off the shelf parts could. Sony and Microsoft really did great in simplifying development for their partners by both going with x86 because it helps cut costs and time with ports and multiplatform titles. This continuation into next generation is a solid move, for sure.

It is true that CELL was something else, but also true that it was pretty difficult to utilize.

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DarXyde1633d ago

Cloud computing is certainly possible, but I am still highly skeptical about its application. If you ask me, we have yet to see anything genuinely impressive but Microsoft using the technology yet. I am sure it is possible, but I simply do not believe in Microsoft. No need to tell. Just show.

Kaze881632d ago

@cigi have you been playing on pc with DX12? If you had, you would know that it's utter trash. more than half the time DX12 is worse performer than DX11. Even some games are unable to function on DX12 mode. Even the games that run better on DX12 have like 5-10fps edge on DX11. Another thing raytracing, shure a nice graphical look but a real fps killer. even on 10XX nvidia series raytracing totally bogs down your fps. You can have it though you must love that sweet 30fps. As for could compute, I hope you remember crackdown 3 mp. Do not forget that it was reviewed as of one of the worst mp in the whole year.

stuckNhere4Good1629d ago (Edited 1629d ago )

PD gave the world an early glimpse of what a CELL-based PS4 would've been like when it connected four PS3's together to run GT5 in native 4K at 60fps/2K at 240fps... https://www.gtplanet.net/gr... , https://www.gtplanet.net/gr...

Its fair to say had things gone Ken Kutaragi's way, native 4K/60fps for most if not all PS4 games, PS3 backwards compatibility, native 4K rendering of all PS3 games and PS VR games rendered at up to 120fps per eye (240fps in total) would've been just a few features ready to go out of the box courtesy of 'Quad Cell/B.E'... https://image.slidesharecdn... , https://image.slidesharecdn... (it had four times the number of PPEs and SPEs compared to CELL... https://forum.beyond3d.com/... ) and whatever Geforce-based GPU it would've been hitched to.

Shame people aren't willing to spend more for top-end consoles. The market is becoming a race to the bottom. We'll see how good that turns out for the industry/community in the long run.

MrVux0001633d ago

Yup, which is why i was kinda dissapointed SONY went to a more safer route with PS4.They could have achieved much more if they sticked with CELL.

GTgamer1633d ago

it would of been a unnecessary cost tbh but i hear you, if they had put more time into upgrading Cell to make easier to develop for this gen who knows what they could of done with it.