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SkekTek's PS3 Launch Predictions: round two

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My original prediction:
Price: $499 USD
Date: June 15th 2006 (no specified territories)
1 SKU

Equipment (bundle form like the US PSP or Xbox 360 "premium"):
Playstation 3 console
External power supply
Component and HDMI cables
Wireless controller w/ rechargeable battery
USB cable for "charge and play"
Blu-ray movie: Underworld Evolution
60GB HDD (very tentative)

I was over confident with Sony's ability to deliver on time and I pooched the launch date. On the other hand I correctly predicted the 60GB HD! (woot for me!). Without further ado here is my revised prediction:

Price: $399 USD (NA)
Date: November 21st 2006
1 SKU

Equipment (bundle form like the US PSP or Xbox 360 "premium"):
Playstation 3 console
External power supply
Component and HDMI cables
Wireless controller w/ rechargeable battery
USB cable for "charge and play"
Blu-ray movie: Underworld Evolution
60GB HDD

Microsoft has set the bar for next gen console prices. The PS3 will not sell for more that $399.

PlayStation 3 delay speculation: what we know

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PlayStation 3 launch delay rumors are running rampant. In an attempt to douse the fire I am going to present the only facts that we currently have about the PS3 launch:
-With the reveal of the PlayStation 3 at E3 '05 Sony announced an expected launch window of spring '06. -Spring is 3 months long. Beginning on March 20th and lasting until June 21st. -As of right now the launch window hasn't even begun. -In response to Merrill Lynch's speculation of a launch delay Sony recently reaffirmed the spring launch window. -Blu-ray technology is ready; a release date for Blu-ray players and media has been announced for May 23rd, almost a full month before the end of the spring launch window. -The Cell has been in production for months and is already in use in evaluation systems. -In a recent conference call NVIDIA stated that the RSX is finished and ready for production. -Developers have had alpha/beta dev systems for 8 months and final systems for 3 months. By the end of the launch window developers will have had 6 months with the final hardware.
Is a delay possible? Yes. But it appears unlikely as Sony seems to have all their ducks in a row.
With all points considered I am going to stick with my launch prediction of June 15th:
-within Sony's announced (and reaffirmed) spring '06 launch window. -2 months after the end of NVIDIA's financial quarter (NVIDIA announced in a conference call that they wouldn't be receiving RSX royalties before April). -a month after E3; making E3 the perfect time and event to officially announce the launch date.

SkekTek's PS3 Launch Predictions

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Everyone has their own predictions here is mine:

Price: $499 USD
Date: June 15th 2006 (no specified territories)
1 SKU

Equipment (bundle form like the US PSP or Xbox 360 "premium"):
Playstation 3 console
External power supply
Component and HDMI cables
Wireless controller w/ rechargeable battery
USB cable for "charge and play"
Blu-ray movie: Underworld Evolution
60GB HDD (very tentative)

Created on February 5th 2006.

Some time in the near future we will see how close I came ;)

Blu-ray vs 12x DVD: read speed

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There seems to be a bit of confusion about Blu-ray's read speeds in comparison to DVD's read speeds specially given the Xbox 360's 12x DVD rating. I am going to attempt to clarify the differences.

The first difference that should be noted in a DVD vs Blu-ray discussion is that DVD's are Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) and Blu-ray is Constant Linear Velocity (CLV).

CAV: The drives transfer rate is variable. Information on the inside tracks of the disc is read at approximately half the speed as the information on the outside of the disc.

CLV:
The drives transfer speed is linear or constant regardless of whether information is on the inside tracks of the disc or the outside.

This is important to note because each of DVD's X ratings have a minimum and a maximum read speed and the advertised read speed is taken from the maximum, consequently a DVD drives maximum read speed is almost never realized. On the other hand Blu-ray's only has one constant read speed:
A comparison of Blu-ray's constant read speed to DVD's variable read speed at each X rating.

Another important note about CAV drives (e.g. DVD) is that because information on a disc is written from the inside to the outside the X rating is never realized unless the disc is entirely full.

Example:
The maximum read speed of a disc that is only half full on a 12x drive is only 12MBps compared to the drives maximum of 16.5MBps.

The comparison

Mb = megabits MB =megabytes
Blu-ray 1x: 36Mbps / 4.5MBps 12x DVD: 66 - 132Mbps / 8.2 - 16.5MBps Blu-ray 2x: 72Mbp / 8MBps 12x DVD: 66 - 132Mbps / 8.2 - 16.5MBps Blu-ray 3x: 108Mbps / 13.5MBps 12x DVD: 66 - 132Mbps / 8.2 - 16.5MBps Blu-ray 4x: 144MBps / 18MBps 12x DVD: 66 - 132Mbps / 8.2 - 16.5MBps
A comparison of Blu-ray's read speed to a 12X DVD's maximum and minimum baseline.

At 2x Blu-ray can read as fast as 12x DVD's minimum read speed. At just 3x Blu-ray is comparable to DVD at 12x; through the first half of the disc 3x Blu-ray is faster, through the second half of the disc 12x DVD is faster. And at only 4x Blu-ray manages to best a 12x DVD's maximum read speed by 9%.

Unified Shaders vs Specialized Shaders: power

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"The Xbox 360's ATI graphics core also throws a wrench into our graphics comparison since it uses a new-fangled Unified Shader Architecture that mixes up pixel- and vertex-pipelines and makes comparison to older video card technology very difficult. The Xbox 360 graphics core may have 48-pipelines, but we don't know how powerful they are compared to dedicated pixel and vertex pipelines."
-Gamespot

We know that unified shaders are more efficient than specialized shaders with the trade off of performance but we didn't know how big the performance differential was...until now. I am going to attempt to answer that question by extrapolating the exact difference from the official specs we have for the R500 and RSX as well as some info from the 7800 GTX specs* (# of shader pipelines):

The basic formula:
(X/Y)/Z

Where
X is the number of shader operations per second
Y is the number of cycles per second
Z is the number of pipes

Xbox 360 R500 "Xenos":
48 billion Shader Operations Per Second(SOPS).
Clock: 500MHz
48,000,000,000 SOPS / 500,000,000 (500MHz) = 96 shader operations per cycle
96 (shader operations per clock) / 48 (shader pipes) = 2 shader operations per shader pipe per cycle

PlayStation 3 RSX:
At E3 '05 Sony released a figure of 100 billion shader operations per second (SOPS) for both the RSX and the Cell.

They also told us that the RSX is capable of 136 shader operations per cycle.
We are going to use these two numbers to extrapolate the individual SOPS metric for each the RSX and the Cell :
136 (shader operations per cycle) x 550,000,000 (550MHz)=
74,800,000,000.
The RSX alone is capable of 74.8 billion SOPS.
100 billion SOPS (Cell + RSX total) - 74.8 billion SOPS (RSX) = 25.2 billion SOPS for the Cell alone.

Now we can calculate the power of the RSX's shaders:
74.8 billion Shader Operations Per Second(SOPS).
Clock: 550MHz
74,800,000,000 SOPS / 550,000,000 (550MHz) = 136 shader operations per cycle
136 (shader operations per clock) / 32 (24 pixel + 8 vertex shader pipes*) = 4.25 shader operations per pipe per cycle

R500: 2 shader ops per pipe per cycle
RSX: 4.25 shader ops per pipe per cycle

A 212% difference in favor of the RSX.


The RSX's specialized shaders are 212% more powerful than the R500's unified shaders.

So we now have an approximate estimation of how powerful unified shaders are in comparison to specialized/traditional shaders.

**The integrity of these calculations is directly proportional to the integrity of Microsoft and Sony's respective specifications.**