Console Launch Delays -- Technical Implications

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by babcat, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. babcat

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    One thing I have learned over the years, is that when a company givesa tentative date for anything, to expect delays. This happened with the PS3. If I remember correctly, it was delayed a couple of times. So, what would the tech implications be if there is another delay with the PS4 or Xbox 720?

    Could there perhaps be....

    Process shrinks?

    Changes in hardware?

    Adjustments in clock speed?

    My personal hope is that both of these consoles are delayed for as long as possible. Personally, I think both consoles should wait for a process shrink. Since neither company cares about top notch graphics anymore, they could push their current systems for a couple more years, make as much money from them as possible, and then launch the next gen consoles after the current ones are completely milked. If we are lucky, consumers might get a bump in clock speed, memory speed, or a couple extra CUs.
     
  2. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Any changes in silicon at this point would be if a catastrophic bug was found, as it takes way too much in the way of time, development resources and money (well, basically everything comes down to money really) to change anything just for the heck of it. Since any process shrinks are a year+ off realistically, the only way to add more CUs is to make the chip more expensive we can forget about that basically, especially since you yourself noted that Sony, MS "don't care" about performance. Except they do, of course. These consoles will have better games by far than anything released up until now, possibly with the exception of PC version of Crysis 3.
     
  3. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    No. There has never been a delay that result in an improvement to hardware. The hardware is finalised and then production gets snagged. PS3, as your example, was exactly the same hardware after its considerable delay as when revealed (save the downclock). the delay was production issues.

    Any major hardware changes would be a catastrophic fault of engineering and planning, and almost certainly be very costly and damaging.
     
  4. babcat

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    I read somewhere that the GPUs in the next gen system probably both have extra CUs that are not activated for yield purposes. What if for example the PS4 GPU has 2 extra CUs that could be made active if yields got good enough, after a year delay?

    Sony and MS do care about performance. I am saying they dont care about top notch, realistic graphics. If they did, the GPUs in these systems would be stronger. Instead, we get old hardware that wont be one fifth as powerful as the fastest GPU available to PCs when these systems launch. But by adding lots of RAM Sony has demonstrated they do care about expansive worlds and making the system easier for devs.

    I personally dont find crysis 3 very impressive. To me, it simply looks like another stylized game that forwent realism to pursue other goals, probably the ability to run on current gen consoles. I think the PS4 will be a dream machine for developers who dont push for realism. And since Sony knows that a good chunk of their customers dont care about realism as much as they used to, they did not make their system as powerful as they could have.

    But to get back on topic, even if it did nothing for gamers, I think delaying the launch of the next gen systems would be a wise business move. The current consoles are still good enough for lots of customers, and will continue to be so.
     
  5. babcat

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    I am not talking about major changes, but, for example, activating reserved CUs if yields improved.

    Of course there is a first time for everything, and if one of these systems were delayed long enough, lets say 2015, they may decide on some more significant modifications.
     
  6. Rangers

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    It could potentially happen, though.

    In this case however, it's essentially 100% certain PS4 and 720 are both launching in late 2013.
     
  7. Cjail

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    Sony and MS would be fools to delay PS4 and Xbox even further.
    The market needs the next-gen; devs want it, players want it.

    And frankly you can't put high level hardware in console and have a contained price.
    Realistically PS4 and Xbox can't have better hardware and yet remain affordable.

    Actually I sincerely hope Sony won't delay the PS4 in the EU and opt for a worldwide simultaneous release.
     
    #7 Cjail, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2013
  8. Entropy

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    Affordable compared to what?
    Current PS3, or PS3 launch price? Because I can easily see how the upcoming consoles could, and indeed, should, be less expensive than what the previous generation launched at.
     
  9. babcat

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    I agree. With the current specs, I think these systems could cost far less than the PS3 at launch. If Sony threw out half the RAM, which may be overkill with such a weak GPU, they could reduce the price even more.
     
  10. babcat

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    For many gamers, the PS3 and 360 is still good enough. Also, with so many developers complaining about increasing development costs, I dont see why they would want the PS4 and next xbox. It would be cheaper for them to keep working on current systems. And I dont see why the developers who specialize in top notch graphics would want the ps4 or next x box; they are weak systems with out dated components.
     
  11. Cjail

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    PS3 launch price was too high and damaged Sony too much; if they are not stupid they will not repeat that mistake.
    PS3 current price would be perfect for PS4 but I think it's not realistic, not with these specs.
    The rumored $400 for PS4 it's more realistic IMO and more affordable.

    So you said you want better/stronger hardware, that would as well mean higher cost for developers, but at the same time suggest that due to higher development cost developers don't desire PS4 and Xbox!? :???:
    If PS4 and Xbox Next for you are week and outdated then don't buy them.
     
    #11 Cjail, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2013
  12. Shifty Geezer

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    Except your missing the cause of those delays. Yes, if they decided to just wait another two years before releasing their console, Sony could (and should) improve it. But if they have the plan to launch this year, it'll launch as designed and described. If PS4 doesn't launch this year, it'll be because there was a problem with the manufacturing that needs to be solved, such as poor APU yields and a need to wait until a die shrink to produce an economical product.

    Approach your question from the other direction - why would a console launch be delayed? That gives you your answer as to why we won't see noteworthy improvements
     
  13. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Not really. I guess in theory a company could have a product design, tell the world about it, then have a change of heart, withdraw the product, design a new one and launch that instead a year or two later, but that'd be a pretty hopeless business and I doubt they'd get anywhere in the console space. Going by what Sony have already shown, what possible reason is there to delay PS4's release? Nada, except manufacturing faults or some dumb lawsuit. You're not going to have manufacturing issues delaying PS4 a year, and then Sony releasing the whole thing in 2014 with 20% higher clocks (I say, invoking the Gods of Irony and causing that to happen ;))
     
  14. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Maybe. I wouldn't bet the farm on it though, these chips aren't super large in size, and the benefit of doing it now that TMSC production has matured surely must be limited. Holding back CUs for yield only works if there's a flaw right in the CU area of the chip, if the flaw is somewhere where there's no redundancy to cover for it the chip's junk, and if there's no flaw at all the reserve CU is just money wasted down the drain.

    Will never happen I bet. Cell never got its eight SPU back, even though production yield surely would cover it by now. Granted, Cell SPUs aren't as independent as GPU shader processors (or rather, not very independent at all really) so devs would have to spend additional coding effort to actually use the additional SPU. Still, the console market relies on predictable performance and behavior, for compatibility if nothing else, and adding extra hardware later on always runs the risk of screwing something up.

    There's never been any prescident in the past for improved performance down the line. It's not totally impossible of course, just wildly improbable. Performance could always have gone up for the latest gen of consoles in particular, more RAM could have been added, clock speeds could have increased as prices dropped and dies were shrunken and so on and nothing of the sort ever happened. There'd be little or none to be gained by activating additional hardware down the line for Sony and MS, and potentially some to be lost; I'm sure they'd just rather not bother at all with something like that...
     
  15. Lalaland

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    Highly unlikely, if I as a software developer decided I wanted to use those extra CUs I'd be disadvantaging a significant portion of my console user base. If I as a hardware developer did it I'd be breaking one of the Golden Rules of consoles which is that software launched on the day of EOL will run on the first console off the production line.

    Remember the mess that was the late period Sega Genesis/MegaDrive with all it's expansion carts and nonsense (or the N64 for that matter). Few gamers bought the 'enhancements' and if a title is released that required them or even was 'enhanced' by them it made owners of 'just' the console feel excluded and resulted in lower sales for the software developer. Consoles are fixed hardware targets, any company changing that is looking for a world of hurt.
     
  16. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    You wouldn't have to "decide" to use those CUs as a developer, just as devs don't have to "decide" to use "extra CUs" in a radeon 7970 versus say a 7550. The hardware just use them, if there's jobs for them to do, transparently.

    It's still not a realistic scenario however because it creates two performance levels of the same console, with some running stuff faster than others, which brings the potential of software breaking when it behaves differently when being run on different hardware. Also, could you as a customer even be sure which console you'd get when buying one, or would it be a roll of the dice so to speak wether you got a "full" GPU versus a "cut-down" one? That could cause extra complications and headaches that a console vendor would rather just not want to deal with methinks.
     
  17. Shifty Geezer

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    I was somewhat miffed to find it's been that way with LCD TVs before now, and the model TV I bought came in four different varieties with varying panel quality, the version reviewers got was the best quality panel, and there being no way to know prior to purchase what panel type you'd get. That was completely luck of the draw, but only those who'd read up the internet would ever know.

    Which is moot in this conversation as there's not going to be any change to the hardware. ;)
     
  18. dagamer

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    A single uniform SKU is what makes a console a console. Any changes to that in which a launch day unit isn't capable of performing the same task in the same time as a newer unit (aka, the PSP doesn't count) only seeks to cause havoc among developers.
     
  19. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    the extra enabled CU in the future can be used to assist SONY video encoding (share button). Maybe to improve quality a bit? or if it need a few secs on current PS4, the future PS4 will be able to instantly render it. or to assist the dashboard to run faster. for games, sony just completely disable that extra CU.

    Like PSP-New that have bigger RAM and only used to boost loading.
     
  20. Shifty Geezer

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    The CU's are invisible to the system beyond the GPU providing an access point. The use of CUs is handled by GPU scheduling. Enable an extra CU or two and the GPU will use it for whatever work it as to do; there's no means in GCN AFAIK to wall a CU off from the rest of the GPU and handle it manually. The video encoding hardware will also be perfectly up to the task of the sharing requirements, unless it's a poop design.

    PSP's RAM was different. You can easily limit games to seeing only half the RAM, and the OS has full access to all the RAM. You could certainly add more RAM to a console and wall it off from games. You can't do that with CUs are described in the current GCN architecture though.
     
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