It looks like there may be even more bad news for Sony fans waiting for their Playstation 3s. Apparently IBM is having issues with Cell chip yields. IBM vice president of Semiconductor and Technology Services Tom Reeves says they are only getting 10% to 20% yields, which is terrible. Right now 1-2 out of every 10 cell processors are working properly after they are manufactured. For the Playstation 3, Sony requires 7 of the 8 cores to work and IBM say that on most of them, only 4 of the 8 cores are working. There are also rumors around the internet that they are considering pushing the launch date back to March 2007. Considering the current yield issues, I would not be too surprised if those rumors turn out to be true. For more info on the cell problems, check out this article.
So, I recently decided to get a new modem (isn’t it technically a bridge). My cable modem was pretty old, and I suspected that it dropped my internet when I had a lot of connections at one time (like when torrenting). I also figured that I would also go quite a bit faster since my modem was pretty old tech. So after getting a new modem, fixing account issues with Comcast (apparently it was never set up correctly, so when switching modems and giving them the new mac address I still wasn’t able to connect), and setting up my router to work with this new modem I finally got online. I was expecting at least a little increase in speed since I usually would download around 450-500KB/sec. So I went and did a speed test:
Yup, that’s right. I went from a 500KB/sec maximum to 2,312KB/sec. I think it was worth it.
Plantronics and Xbox.com have teamed up for a promotion for a sweet deal on Plantronics Halo 2 headsets. They’re usually 50 bucks, but for a limited time they will only set you back $14.95 U.S. That is WAY cheaper then anything else out there…and a portion of the purchase price (US$1) goes to the United Way Katrina Recovery Fund.
These headsets are great—they work with your original Xbox® and Xbox 360™—heck, they’ll even work with your cell phone.
AnandTech has been reviewing the AGEIA PhysX cards this month and what they are saying is pretty much what I expected when I wrote a previous post about the PhysX cards.
Playing the CellFactor demo for a while, messing around in the Hangar of Doom, and blowing up things in GRAW and City of Villains is a start, but it is only a start. As we said before, we can’t recommend buying a PPU unless money is no object and the games which do support it are your absolute favorites. Even then, the advantages of owning the hardware are limited and questionable (due to the performance issues we’ve observed).
Seeing City of Villains behave in the same manner as GRAW gives us pause about the capability of near term titles to properly support and implement hardware physics support. The situation is even worse if the issue is not in the software implementation. If spawning lots of effects on the PhysX card makes the system stutter, then it defeats the purpose of having such a card in the first place. If similar effects could be possible on the CPU or GPU with no less of a performance hit, then why spend $300?
Performance is a large issue, and without more tests to really get under the skin of what’s going on, it is very hard for us to know if there is a way to fix it or not. The solution could be as simple as making better use of the hardware while idle, or as complex as redesigning an entire game/physics engine from the ground up to take advantage of the hardware features offered by AGEIA.
As an end user, we would like to say that the promise of upcoming titles is enough. Unfortunately, it is not by a long shot. We still need hard and fast ways to properly compare the same physics algorithm running on a CPU, a GPU, and a PPU — or at the very least, on a (dual/multi-core) CPU and PPU. More titles must actually be released and fully support PhysX hardware in production code. Performance issues must not exist, as stuttering framerates have nothing to do with why people spend thousands of dollars on a gaming rig.
Here’s to hoping everything magically falls into place, and games like CellFactor are much closer than we think. (Hey, even reviewers can dream… right?)
It is pretty bad that performance actually goes down when using the card.
You can read the whole article here.