RPGFan Discord Server

More on Playstation 2...

I would like to address a couple of things about the Playstation 2 today and this should not be regarded as news but more as an editorial with my OWN opinions. I see a lot of people freaking out about the specs released by Sony on their processor called: "The Emotion Engine". People especially like to quote the "55 million polygons" that Sony mentioned in their announcement. I happen to be a negative guy and I've always been a skeptic especially when something sounds too good to be true.

In my opinion, those polygon benchmarks mentioned by Sony are nothing more than marketing and theoretical numbers. This is just like NEC calling their machine "TurboGraphX-16" even though it was an 8-bit machine, just like Atari calling their Jaguar a 64-bit machine, just like Sega throwing the term "blast processor" back in the Genesis days when it was nothing but a publicity stunt... the list goes on and on. Sony is fully aware that people will be impressed by big numbers and marketing wise, this is the best thing Sony could do and you can't blame them. Even though I personally don't like tactics like that, Sony is a business out to make money (just like any other company) and this is a smart business move for them. I do not know how powerful the Playstation 2 is going to be and I do not know if Sony is trying to pull a fast one on us but in my opinion, if it sounds a little too good to be true, it usually is. I'm going to finish this with a few words from industry experts about the Playstation 2 because they do make good points there. Here's a few sample taken from Next-Generation:

Jouni Mannonen, Developer Relations Coordinator for Hybrid Holding (a Finnish company that has produced an incredible 3D technology for the PC dubbed SurReal 3D), wasn't so sure about numbers of that magnitude. As he sees it, the question hanging in the air is how Sony benchmarked to get its figures.

Mannonen points out that there is an important difference between polygons calculated in isolation and polygons calculated "relationally." For instance, he says "Calculating one triangle over and over, you can calculate it a huge number of times." Mannonen likens it to the difference between writing one word over and over again versus writing a complete sentence. He is curious whether the polygons calculated by the "Emotion Engine" were forming objects and relations, in which case the 55 million polygons a second number would be truly impressive.

And here's what a technology executive at one of the major hardware manufacturer had to say:

"They're not taking the throughput into account," he began, and then went on to add that Sony is "doing an additive number." His assertion is that Sony tested what each processor could calculate, "taking the possibility for each chip," then added up the numbers to reach 55 million. Our nameless exec continued, "Without knowing more about the innards of the chips themselves, it's hard to take the numbers seriously."

We asked our anonymous executive to accept for a minute that the numbers were accurate. Doing so, he brought up the polygons calculated versus the polygons drawn argument. "It doesn't mean they're able to display that many."

We asked an exec at a major semi-conducter company what he thought of Sony's specs, looking for insight into the manufacture of this floating-point intensive beast.

"On paper it looked nice," he told us. "The pictures looked nice. The numbers looked nice. But fitting that many gates on a piece of silicon is where the issue lies."

While the semi-conducter exec did not seem to doubt that Sony's processor does what they claim, he was very skeptical that it could be produced any day soon for a mass market console. "I can't see that they can make this chip cost-effectively and with the yield to produce the numbers they'll want to have on the market by 2000 or 2001." He went on to mention that most chips have yield problems at high temperatures -- and a processor that will run as fast as this would have to will have serious temperature problems.

So there you have it folks. I'm sorry for the length of this update but I thought this was interesting
and it gives an opinion by experts on when they think this machine could be available (not soon from what I can understand).

Date Updated:
March 3rd, 1999

Time Updated:
7:19 PM



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