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We have come a long way since the Ataris and Nintendo Entertainment Systems of previous years. Game console technology has moved from the simple to very high end. For example, back in the 1990's, the Nintendo, with the big square controllers that had only five buttons and the huge, but still portable, gray Gameboy were the hot items. Nowadays, those pieces of technology have been outdated and replaced by Microsoft's XBOX, Sony's Playstation and PSP, and Nintendo's Wii and DS. The XBOX and Playstation have also changed since their inception leaving the older consoles even further behind. The technology represented by these new consoles is astounding. They allow for faster gameplay, more realistic characters, and detailed graphics. Further, Nintendo changed the way gamers play by first creating the portable, dual-screened, touch sensitive DS, and now with their "Wii-mote" which is a motion sensing remote control used to play Wii games.

The Nintendo Wii will implement a new technology never before seen in gaming consoles. While systems such as the ps3 and the xbox 360 chose to immerse the players with beautiful graphics and the latest technological advances, Nintendo chose to take a different approach. Using the new controller, players will be able to interact with the characters by moving the controller in various ways. For instance, say someone is playing a football game. Instead of pressing a button to pass the ball to someone, the player can make the same motion a quarterback does and the ball will be thrown similar to the players' movements. This will allow for infinite possibilities in the gaming realm.

As Nintendo focuses on creating a unique gaming experience, Microsoft and Sony take a different approach, hoping to create an all-in-one entertainment system. Sony's Playstation 3 (PS3) comes equipped with a Blu Ray player, Blu-ray players got their name by the use of a blue-violet laser instead of a red laser. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray products can easily be made backwards compatible with CDs and DVDs through the use of a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup unit. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser, which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it's possible to fit more data on the disc even though it's the same size as a CD/DVD. Blu-ray Discs hold 25GB/50GB. Also, the PS3 plays previous PS2 and Playstation games on it. On the other hand, Microsoft's XBOX 360 allows you to purchase an HD-DVD add-on; it is for those who are interested in watching movies on their system. There are two kinds of single-sided HD DVD discs for content playback: the 15GB single-layer disc, and the dual-layer disc with double the capacity at a full 30GB. Using the latest compression technologies, the 30GB disc can store up to 8 hours* of 1080-line HD images. The 30GB HD DVD has space enough for 48 hours of SD images.

The XBOX 360 also allows playback of original XBOX games, but it limited in titles due to emulation being required. To see which of the original XBOX games are playable on the XBOX 360, the updated list is here: Backwards Compatibility List.1_HD_BLU_w.jpg

Of the new technologies utilized by these consoles, perhaps the most exciting is their use of the Internet. Once only possible when gamers played with a PC, new gaming platforms use the relatively new and widely used high-speed internet connections to connect multiple gamers. New consoles allow for users to join their friends in a "preliminary room." After joining up with friends, the leader of the group then searches for and joins games while the rest of the group tags along not having to worry about seperately joining the game. These online communities also act like a network where new updates can be downloaded; most cases for free. Microsoft is also including a movie download service, allowing users to purchase and rent movies, then download them to their system for viewing. In the newest generation of console's Sony has decided to change their online service from developer run, to a more unified and centralized service, much like Microsoft's XBOX Live.

Online gaming is also available on an individual level. Those who enjoy competing against other people instead of a predictable computer opponent, will be pleased to know that online gaming will provide adequate competition. Since it is very easy and quick to connect, one can have an opponent in a matter of minutes instead of waiting for a friend to become available to play. This will give players the competition they seek as well as a person to talk to during a game.



The main application of these gaming technologies is of course entertainment. They also represent major steps forward in the power of computer technologies and the lowering price of these technologies. Finally, they represent a merging of various technologies to suit a family's entertainment desires: Blu Ray for high definition movies, Bluetooth for wireless device connectivity, Wi-Fi for easy Internet access from the system itself, and backward compatibility that allows the new system to take place of the old and successfully interoperate with games and other applications.

Sony and Microsoft have also made their consoles into an all encompassing media experience. Both systems allow users to connect MP3 players, digital cameras, and various other devices. These connections can be used to set up slideshows, a music playlist for a party, and more. Microsoft also created the XBOX 360 to interact with Windows XP, Windows Media Center, and Vista operating systems. Utilizing a computer with one of these operating systems allows the user to stream music, videos, pictures, and other applications from their PC onto their TV. The added benefit of this feature is that the XBOX 360 will upscale any data brought through to its selected resolution.

Sony Playstation:

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Pictured Above: IBM Cell Processor

The Cell architecture consists of a number of elements:

The Cell Processor
This is a single core processor split with 8 SPEs, the main core is a PowerPC and acts as a controller. The remaining 8 cores are called SPEs and these are very high performance, specialized, vector processors. Each SPE contains it's own block of high speed RAM and is capable of 32 GigaFlops (32 bit). The SPEs are independent processors and can act alone or can be set up to process a stream of data with different SPEs working on different stages. This ability to act as a "stream processor" gives access to the full processing power of a Cell which is claimed to be more than 10 times higher than even the fastest desktop processors. However, for increased efficiency, one SPE has been disabled in the Cell Processor for the Playstation 3.

In addition to the raw processing power the Cell includes a high performance multi-channel memory subsystem and a number of high speed interconnects for connecting to other Cells or I/O devices.

Distributing Processing
A software infrastructure under development will allow Cells to work together. While they can be directly connected via the high speed interconnects they can also be connected in other ways or distributed over a network. The Cells are not gaming or computer specific, they can be in anything from PDAs to TVs but they can still be used to act as a single system.

Parallel programming is usually complex but in this case the OS will look at the resources it has and distribute tasks accordingly, this process does not involve any more programming than the initial parallelisation. If you want more processing power you simply add more Cells, you do not need to replace the existing ones as the new Cells will augment the existing ones.

Overall the Cell architecture is an architecture for distributed, parallel processing using very powerful computational engines developed using a highly aggressive design strategy. These devices shall be produced in vast numbers so they will provide vast processing resources at a low cost.

XBOX 360:

Pictured Above: XBOX 360 CPU Chip
The Xenon Architecture

Codenamed Xenon, the XBOX 360 features 3 symmetrical general purpose processors. The XBOX 360 CPU features 165 million transistors and is fabricated using the new IBM 90-nanometer technology. According to reports, the processor can handle 9 billion dot product operations per second and can also crunch 128 VMX-128 registers per thread. The processors also feature a customizable version of the IBM 64-bit PowerPC core. The three cores each have two simultaneous threads that allow for clock speeds greater than 3 GHz.

Backed by a 21.6GB per-second front side bus, the processor was built in order to meet the physical constraints placed on the system along with the latency requirements. This allows for better load times and also a decrease in overheating on the chip itself.

First Video Game Console

Magnavox Odyssey

XBOX Live is a type of online multiplayer game play that allows users via their broadband connection to play others throughout the world who also subscribe to XBOX Live. The connection through Live allows users to speak and compete with opponents playing the various games offered by Microsoft for the XBOX and XBOX 360. The service also allows for the users to leave text or voice messages to other online or offline users. With a a huge selection of features that came out with the XBOX 360; Live has opened up all new horizons for online game play; most notably XBOX Live Marketplace. Marketplace allows users to download promotional content offered by Microsoft to the 360. This content include things such as movie and game trailers, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, gamer tag images, and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes.

Technology of the Odyssey:
Because of its mid-1960’s type of technology, the Odyssey is completely different from modern video game systems. It uses no microprocessor and has no need for memory. It is based on a hybrid analog and digital circuit design. Opening the physical game unit reveals only discrete components: resistors, capacitors, etc. The only semiconductors are about 40 diodes and 40 transistors.

Odyssey’s cartridges contain no components: they are basically wirejumper sets. When plugging a cartridge into the console, internal diode logic circuits are interconnected in different ways to produce the desired result. As a matter of fact, the Odyssey contains everything to make a game based around a ball, one or two paddles representing the players, and a central or off-side vertical line which serves as a net or a wall. The cartridges act to connect some the machine’s diode logic circuitry to set the aspect and the position of the vertical line (normally centered for ping pong and tennis but located on the left or on the middle for handball and volleyball respectively, or not displayed at all for Chase games and gun games), and to determine the interaction between the ball and the other graphic objects: bounce or erase either a player or a ball spot when there is a collision with a player or the central line (a player could even be erased after a collision with the ball). During the winter of ’72 – ’73 Ralph Baer designed several advanced cartridges equipped with some additional acvtive components so as to add some more realistic features to the Odyssey. Unfortunately, Magnavox chose not to go along with these new ideas.

Other Gaming systems:

Nintendo 64:


Sony - Cell Processor
XBOX 360 Chip
Wii Technology
Xbox 360 Technology
Playstation 3 Technology
Wikipedia - Playstation 3
Wikipedia - Nintendo Wii
Wikipedia - Xbox 360