Sony’s Massive Advantage: PS3 Processing Power

12 11 2007

If you look at the central processor in Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox 360 you will see something that can trace its ancestry right back to the Intel 8086 of 1978. Over its evolution this has forced endless fudges and compromises. An analogy might be trying to build a working supertanker on the plans of a model rowing boat. And the 360 itself owes its architecture to the IBM PC of 1981 and so carries with it the accommodations that this architecture imposes. These factors, ultimately, must impinge on the working of the console.

Compare that to Sony (SNE), who were able to design the processor and the console it is in with a clean sheet of paper. The Cell processor, designed jointly with IBM and Toshiba at a cost of $400 million is the state of the art in processor dessign. It is scalable, highly flexible and excellent at distributed processing.

So it is little surprise that the PS3 now holds the Guiness world record for the most powerful distributed computing network. Or that an astrophysicist has replaced a supercomputer with eight PS3s. This is one very special and very powerful machine and when game programmers eventually work out how to get the best from it we are going to see some spectacular results.

But there has been a price to pay. Whilst the 360 was cheap to develop and cheap to make, the PS3 has cost a fortune. Sony has absorbed some of this cost in losses and passed some of it on to end users in the form of higher prices, which has hit sales. Sony has bet its computer entertainment division and maybe the whole company on this device.

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Universal confirms “no plans to support Blu-ray”

5 11 2007

Interview: Ken Graffeo from Universal to talk next gen format war

Credits: Pocket-Lint.co.uk

As the next generation format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD continues to rumble on, Pocket-lint sat down over email with Ken Graffeo, excutive vice president, HD DVD Strategic Marketing for Universal, the only studio to singularly back Toshiba’s HD DVD format from the start.

Is HD DVD going to win over Blu-ray? What does the future hold? How does the company feel about Paramount and Dreamworks coming on board? And will it ever release Blu-ray movies?

Q: No matter how it’s spun, the format war isn’t good for the consumer, looking back, what do you think Sony and Toshiba should have done differently?

A: Extensive efforts were made to find a solution in the DVD Forum and avoid the situation we see today, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The DVD Forum chose the HD DVD specification and as a result, Sony and its partners decided to make a go of it with Blu-ray. Our focus now is providing the best high definition home entertainment experiences with greatest value proposition for consumers. At the end, the consumer is the real winner because prices on next-generation hardware have been dropping faster and more significantly than they did in the early days of DVD. This is actually hastening rather than slowing consumer adaption

Q: Do you see a time when Universal will release movies on both HD DVD and
Blu-ray?

A: We have no plans to support Blu-ray. We want to be able to market all the great things HD DVD can offer consumers. We couldn’t do this if we split our resources on two formats, hedged our bets and had to avoid over promoting features on one format so we wouldn’t undercut the other format. HD DVD allows us to provide the type of quality and truly next generation experiences we need to get consumers to migrate from DVD.

Q: With the PS3 price cut meaning the console is now much more affordable, and one of the cheapest Blu-ray players on the market, how do you think this will affect Blu-ray adoption compared to HD DVD?

A: The PS3 is a gaming system first – even Sony will tell you this, and we believe consumers use gaming consoles to play games. Studies show that 70% of gamers don’t even know that their console has a DVD playback option. What’s important is that HD DVD owns the lead in dedicated CE player sales and maintains a 4:1 software attach rate over Blu-ray, meaning people are purchasing four times more HD DVD titles per HD DVD player than Blu-ray. Standalone players for HD DVD will be as low as $199 this holiday shopping season – maintaining HD DVD’s clear cost advantage. The PS3 simply hasn’t been the gamer changer Sony had hoped it would be.

Q: How much longer will Universal offer DVD versions of films for? Read the rest of this entry »





Google takes on FaceBook with OpenSocial

31 10 2007

Google’s open social networking platform play is the buzz of the blogosphere tonight. (see Techmeme). Indeed, it is called OpenSocial in that the set of APIs allows developers to create applications that work on any social network that joins Google’s open party. So far, besides Google’s Orkut social net, LinkedIn, hi5, XING, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning (see Marc Andreessen’s post) have joined the party.

Oracle and salesforce.com are also supporting Google’s OpenSocial efforts, which indicates that they have plans to add social networking elements to their application platforms. OpenSocial will officially launch on Thursday.

Plaxo emailed a statement about OpenSocial this evening, getting ahead of the stampede:

“Dynamic profiles redefine what users should expect in terms of how they can represent themselves in a social or business network,” said Todd Masonis, Co-Founder and VP of Products for Plaxo. “We believe that users should have full control over what they share with whom – and that the catalog of widgets that they can choose from should be as open and diverse as the web itself. We are excited to support in dynamic profiles any application written to Google’s just–launched OpenSocial APIs. ”

According to TechCrunch, which first reported on Google’s larger social networking ambitions, OpenSocial consists of APIs for profile information, friend information (social graph) and activities, such as a news feed. OpenSocial users Javascript and HTML rather than a markup language as Facebook does.

This comes on the heels of the Facebook’s dynamic growth based on opening its social graph to developers and Microsoft’s $240 million investment for 1.6 percent of the company. However, unlike Google, Facebook doesn’t open its APIs to support other social networks. The other social networking giant, MySpace, is also planning to open its platform to developers.

This openness is part of what Vic Gundotra, Google’s head of developer programs, meant when he said last week, “In the next year we will make a series of announcements and spend hundreds of millions on innovations and giving them away as open source.”

He explained the newfound openness as more than altruism: “It also makes good economic sense. The more applications, the more usage. More users means more searches. And, more searches means more revenue for Google. The goal is to grow the overall market, not just to increase market share.”

What does OpenSocial mean for Facebook? Read the rest of this entry »