Unlocking PSP's future. 50% performance increase waiting to be unlocked - Handheld

This is a discussion on Unlocking PSP's future. 50% performance increase waiting to be unlocked - Handheld ; [the following is a new article, based on old information that has been known for months. but I thought interesting enough to post] http://consoul.blogspot.com/2005/04/...ps-future.html -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Unlocking PSP's future The general perception of PSP games right now is that they look ...

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  1. Unlocking PSP's future. 50% performance increase waiting to be unlocked

    [the following is a new article, based on old information that has been
    known for months. but I thought interesting enough to post]


    http://consoul.blogspot.com/2005/04/...ps-future.html

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    "Unlocking PSP's future

    The general perception of PSP games right now is that they look pretty good.
    Pretty damn good. You probably wouldn't be surprised if I told you that PSP
    games are going to look considerably better in the future. It stands to
    reason that over time, games look better and better across a console's
    lifespan as developers become more accustomed to the hardware and learn to
    exploit it more effectively. The first-generation games might put just as
    much strain on the system as the late-generation games, but the tangible
    improvements come from much more efficient coding. The console's
    capabilities don't improve, only the software does. Such is the case with
    all consoles.

    What if I told you that PSP was different? What if I told you that as well
    as enjoying the benefits of steadily improving software development, the PSP
    would, at some stage in the future (and without any modification), become
    capable of a hardware performance increase of fifty percent? That would be
    somewhat more surprising, wouldn't it?

    Well, that's what I'm telling you. At this year's busy GDC (Game Developers
    Conference) in San Francisco, lots of companies gave lots of presentations.
    On Friday the 11th of March, between midday and 1pm, Sony Computer
    Entertainment America staged four different presentations simultaneously.
    Mark DeLoura, SCEA's manager of developer relations, delivered one of them:
    a rather dry and technical presentation called "PSP Advanced Software
    Overview". It seems that with so many talks vying for attention, this
    particular presentation may have slipped under the radar of the mainstream
    gaming press. What was revealed in that presentation however, is very
    significant.

    DeLoura explained that the PSP's CPU and bus have software-configurable
    clockspeeds. The CPU core is currently locked to a maximum clockspeed of
    222MHz, and the bus (typically operating at half the CPU speed) is locked to
    a top speed of 111Mhz. The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) operates at bus
    speed, in other words, up to the 111MHz cap. The advantage of having
    configurable clockspeeds in a portable device is that power consumption can
    be controlled by adjusting the clockspeed to the demands of the software at
    any given moment. When the PSP is rendering complex in-game graphics at
    around 222MHz it will necessarily chew up more power than it would need to
    when displaying a simple menu screen running at say 5MHz.

    The hardware specifications of the PSP were released last year. Since then
    it's been known that the PSP CPU's top clockspeed is 333MHz and the bus and
    GPU's top speed is 166MHz. See what's going on? Sony have deliberately
    locked the PSP's operating speed at exactly two-thirds of it's actual
    potential. They have an extra fifty percent of it's current performance
    ability simply waiting in reserve to be unleashed at a later date.

    As I pointed out in my PSP Lowdown back in January, the graphical
    performance exhibited in PSP's launch titles looks like it's somewhere
    between PSone and PS2 standard. Now I understand why. The PS2's Emotion
    Engine (CPU) runs at 294.912MHz and it's Graphics Synthesizer (GPU) runs at
    147.456MHz. While the PSP is clearly a more powerful device on paper, it's
    currently being restricted to a sub-PS2 standard of performance.

    Of course, this begs the question: why? Why would Sony choose to cripple
    their own hardware? Well, the most obvious answer is that they needed to
    maintain an acceptable battery life. In the lead up to PSP's debut, it's
    battery duration was often quoted as it's single biggest potential problem.
    Had they launched the PSP with games running at a fully unlocked 333Mhz, the
    battery could have been dead in less than two hours. That just wouldn't do.
    Through capping the PSP's clockspeed (and enforcing other power-saving
    guidelines) Sony have achieved a respectable 4-6 hours of gameplay from a
    single charge. It now seems apparent that Sony have actually delivered a
    portable console whose capabilities are too advanced for current battery
    technology. Once that technology improves, it seems inevitable that Sony
    will release a higher capacity battery and unlock PSP's full potential.

    The current performance cap may have other benefits in the long run. Rather
    than letting developers wastefully chew up the whole of PSP's hardware
    capability from the get-go with inefficient code, the restrictions
    essentially force them to code more efficiently from the beginning.
    Consequently, when the ceiling is eventually lifted, the developers will be
    ready to put the extra power to good use.

    It has been theorized that the clockspeed cap is in the PSP's firmware, and
    will be removed by a firmware update. A developer at the gaming-age forums
    recently disclosed that this isn't the case. The restriction is actually
    being imposed at the game development stage, by way of limits in Sony's PSP
    libraries. The PSP devkits allow developers to constantly modify the CPU
    clockspeed settings from anywhere between 1 and 333MHz (or 0.5-166Mhz for
    the GPU and bus), but the current software libraries simply won't go above
    222MHz (or 111Mhz for GPU and bus).

    Initially restricting certain features of a console is not as uncommon as
    you might expect. As an example, the PS2 was restricted from displaying
    progressive scan for many years, though usually such restrictions are
    handled by the TRC process, not by a software restriction. The TRC
    (Technical Requirement Check) is the console manufacturer's checklist that
    games must pass before being published. Any developers who try to hack the
    current PSP libraries to exceed the clockspeed limits will undoubtedly have
    their games rejected at the TRC stage. Sony probably felt it would be easier
    to simply restrict the libraries than to ask the developers politely not to
    go above 222Mhz, and have to later issue a wave of TRC rejections. Sony will
    provide developers with new software libraries when they are ready to remove
    the restrictions. Games developed after that will be free to exploit all of
    the PSP's processing power. Ridge Racers' associate producer Hideo Teramoto
    recently confirmed in an Edge magazine interview that unlike the
    underclocked Ridge Racers, Namco will release PSP games in future that run
    at 333MHz.

    When the time comes, consumers won't need to do anything. No firmware update
    should be required. Old games won't run any faster than they ever did,
    because the restrictions are in the game software, not in the PSP itself.
    The new games will simply push PSPs harder than ever before. Sony will have
    much improved high-capacity batteries on the market by then, but you won't
    actually need to buy one. The latest and greatest games will run on your old
    battery. Of course, the speed at which they'll drain your old battery should
    be incentive enough for you to rush out and buy a new one.

    The tangible difference in the games should be very noticeable. Example:
    Right now, the PSP has a maximum fillrate of 444 Mpixels/sec. After the
    restrictions are lifted that will become 664 Mpixels/sec. Games will be able
    to feature more complex models with higher polygon-counts, more fluid
    frame-rates, better physics, you name it. We are talking about an
    across-the-board fifty percent performance increase after all. PSP's
    hardware supremacy over the PS2 should become evident. It's even possible
    that when the new battery is released, the PSP's fourth screen brightness
    setting (uber-blinding strength; currently only selectable when the PSP is
    plugged into mains power), will be available all the time.
    PSP's future certainly looks bright."

    posted by Robin at 10:32 PM
    __________________________________________________ _



  2. Re: Unlocking PSP's future. 50% performance increase waiting to be unlocked

    yyyyyyyy wrote:
    >spam


    Cygnus, this is your most embarrassingly lame new name so far.


    --
    * "Child poverty would be nearly obliterated if every household had one
    adult working full time and married parents." -- Rich Lowry, Jan 29 2004.
    * 11.4% of married-couple households with 1+ child under 18 and one full-time
    year-round worker are under poverty threshold -- US census, 2003.

  3. Re: Unlocking PSP's future. 50% performance increase waiting tobe unlocked

    yyyyyyyy schrieb:
    > [the following is a new article, based on old information that has been
    > known for months. but I thought interesting enough to post]
    >
    >
    > http://consoul.blogspot.com/2005/04/...ps-future.html
    >
    > [clockspeed currently limited to 2/3 max]


    Just removing the cap wouldn't really help, while you would have a more
    powerful PSP, you also would have the crappy battery life which is why
    the lock was put in the first place. So removing the lock helps only if
    we get either better batteries or developers learn to save battery power
    somewhere else so they can switch to full clockspeed without ruining the
    battery life. One solution would be mixing complex and less complex game
    scenes, so you can render the less complex ones at, let's say, 111 Mhz
    to conserve battery power and the use that saved power to render a few
    complex scenes at 333 mhz. Or you could try to design memory effective
    levels, so you can load a whole level into the ram and switch off the
    UMD drive most of the time and conserve power that way. Sure unlocking
    the full clockspeed will help developers a bit but don't expect a huge
    leap like you would expect it from a 33% increase of cpu and gpu power.

    I also heard the PSP is easy to develop for, so I wouldn't expect a huge
    jump like it happend from early PS2 to 2-3. gen PS2 titles. We sure will
    some improvements, but they won't be huge imho. (Not that they are
    needed anyway.)

    And last but not least there is one problem that troubles me with that
    clock speed increase. In a few years when we have PSPs with die shrinken
    to 65nm or smaller and maybe better batteries, these second generation
    PSPs could have a good battery life when running constantly at 333mhz.
    Developers then could start designing games using 333 mhz constantly,
    and while they would look really good, first gen PSP owners would get
    the super short battery life some critics predicted.

    Jan

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