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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

PS3 to revolutionize personal computing, Sony says

PS3 to revolutionize personal computing, Sony says

"Sony's Playstation 3 (PS3), expected to ship next spring, will revolutionize personal computing, says Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ken Kutaragi in an EETimes Asia interview. The PS3 will have a Cell processor that runs multiple OSes -- including Linux -- concurrently in different OS "cells."

In June, Sony revealed that the PS3 will be marketed as both a gaming device and an "entertainment supercomputer" that can run Linux and other PC operating systems on removable, interchangeable hard drives. The drives will include task-specific Linux environments that can be used to edit videos, serve multimedia streams, and more. A Cell Linux port developed at an IBM facility in Austin, Texas is expected to appear in the 2.6.13 kernel.

According to Kutaragi's EETimes Asia interview, the Cell was conceived from the ground up as a revolutionary computer processor, rather than as a processor for gaming devices. It was also designed to run multiple operating systems concurrently, in separate cells:
  • The lowest-level Cell kernel, called Level 0, is a proprietary layer implemented mainly for security reasons, Kutaragi says -- Playstation game developers will no longer be able to directly control the hardware.
  • A Level 1 OS will include device drivers and a real-time kernel and scheduler, and will provide all the APIs needed by real-time game developers, according to the interview.
  • A Level 2 OS -- also called a guest OS layer -- might be Linux, a PC OS, or a Playstation OS, depending on how the user wishes to apply the device. Sony and its ISV (independent software vendor) and gaming content partners will sell guest OSes on interchangeable, removable hard drives pre-installed with task-based operating systems of various kinds.Kutaragi says the Cell processor's separation and partitioning of each OS level will permit programmers to concentrate on their targeted areas of concern, without worrying about other levels, according to the EETimes Asia.
Kutaragi describes many challenges involved in getting the Cell processor and PS3s to market, including the integration of Blu-Ray high-definition DVD technology, and display technology from partner NVidia -- not to mention ramping up production of a new processor design to millions of units in less than a year.

The complete interview is available here (registration required)."

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