Rumor: All Xbox 360 launch games to be single-threaded? [UPDATED]
Source: Tech news and rumor site Theinquirer.net.The official story: Microsoft declined to comment. What we heard: When it was unveiled on May 12, the Xbox 360 was touted as having some the burliest hardware of any console yet. Though the PlayStation 3 trumped it statwise just days later, the 360...
Source: Tech news and rumor site Theinquirer.net.
What we heard: When it was unveiled on May 12, the Xbox 360 was touted as having some the burliest hardware of any console yet. Though the PlayStation 3 trumped it statwise just days later, the 360 still has plenty of processing horsepower under the hood. Specifically, its custom-designed IBM processor has three processing cores, each capable of handling two threads, or two separate applications. But while the grand total of six threads gives the 360 a lot of processing power, it also makes programming for the console hard, because developers will have to manage resources between all the processes.
Well, according to a rumor that surfaced this week, developers rushing to have their games ready by November 22 came up with a novel shortcut to evade the pitfalls of multiple threads--just avoid multiple threads altogether. According to the Inquirer, a unidentified Microsoft presenter at the Fall Processor Forum let slip that "the first generation of Xbox titles, all of them, are single threaded." The author doesn't identify the speaker in the article, most of which is devoted to kvetching about the quality of 360 games. However, just hours later, the same author published a more in-depth article about a multicore presentation given by Microsoft software architect Herb Sutter. Since no other Microsoft speaker presented at the FPF's six sessions, it is likely that Sutter said it. It would also jibe with the subject of his presentation--which, according to the Inquirer, was about the "poor state" of multithreading software for multiprocessor cores.
But is it true? Historically, the launch lineups of games for each console don't take advantage of the hardware, simply because they don't know how to fully exploit the new platform--just compare Halo's graphics to Halo 2's. Combine that precedent with Microsoft's down-to-the-wire push to have games on shelves by November 22, and single-threaded games become a distinct possibility.
[UPDATE] Well, over the weekend, eagle-eyed reader Mike Scott pointed out that in GameSpot's October 27 video Q&A with the designers of Condemned, one developer said the studio is using the Xbox 360's second thread to give opponents improved artificial intelligence. Since Sega said the game will go on sale alongside the Xbox 360 on November 22nd, it turns out the Inquirer was wrong.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus, apparently.