Friday, May 20, 2005

The DIRT on the RSX and ATI GPUs for PS3 and X360

This is a great read for all those willing to take a candid level-headed look under the hood of the next-gen consoles. I am a big nVidia fan, especially with their 6XXX series GPUs (I have the 6800 in my desktop), but ATI's "from the ground up" design for the 360 sounds awesome, even more so than the RSX because it has some unique stuff in the design that will take a little time to figure out. Here are some intriquing excerpts:

http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=2423

"Unlike any of their current-gen desktop GPUs, the 360 GPU supports FP32 from start to finish...Full FP32 support puts this aspect of the 360 GPU on par with NVIDIA's RSX."

"Because of the extremely large amount of bandwidth available both between the parent and daughter die as well as between the embedded DRAM and its FPUs, multi-sample AA is essentially free at 720p and 1080p in the Xbox 360. If you're wondering why Microsoft is insisting that all games will have AA enabled, this is why."

"ATI did clarify that although Microsoft isn't targetting 1080p (1920 x 1080) as a resolution for games, their GPU would be able to handle the resolution with 4X AA enabled at no performance penalty."

So 1080P is not a PS3 exclusive! Some more:

"Given that the RSX is based off of NVIDIA's G70 architecture, you can expect to have a similar feature set later this year on the PC. In fact, NVIDIA stated that by the time PS3 ships there will be a more powerful GPU available on the desktop. This is in stark contrast to ATI's stance that a number of the features of the Xbox 360 GPU won't make it to the desktop for a matter of years (potentially unified shader architecture), while others will never be seen on the desktop (embedded DRAM?)."

So, it sounds like the RSX will be "obsolete" by the time the PS3 comes out. The article was objective, but makes it sound like the ATI solution is potentially more exciting because of all the unique customizations on board that have very special features. I am sure the RSX will be a very nice chipset, but being behind the PC hardware power-curve at launch can't be a good thing. The article does go on to state the Cell processor should do a much better job than conventional desktop CPUs at "feeding" the chip, but with multi-core processors on the horizon, this may no longer be a cell processor advantage. I guess time will tell here.

Bottom line, both consoles have powerful hardware, and sound to be on even ground GPU-wise here. Unfortunately, no matter what the real deal is, we are sure to see plenty of Sony's loyal legions spouting, "M$ sucks my A$$ and PS3 will take a crap on the Xbox 360!", and X360 fans can stop worrying, resorting to making derogatory comments about the PS3's "refridgerator" design. We can be rest assured the battle will be rage between the two camps none-the-less with the slinging of crap having no end.