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Multithreaded Gaming On Xbox:The Real Story

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Anonymous
July 12, 2005 11:30:30 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox (More info?)

Interesting article I read on the pooper today for those interested :) 

Anand’s Corner by Anand Lal Shimpi:

With the release of the first dual-core CPUs from AMD and Intel, the PC
industry faced a major challenge: the quick adoption and development of
multithreaded applications for dual-core microprocessors. The server and
workstation folks welcomed the first dual-core CPUs; it meant that they
could get twice as many cores in the same number of sockets that they
were used to purchasing--the software already took advantage of it and
performance scaled quite well. The desktop market, however, has been
stuck in a very single-threaded environment ever since its inception. PC
games were no different; aside from Quake III Arena’s r_smp variable
that would enable multiprocessor support, PC games are not at a stage to
take advantage of dual-core processors.

Intel, in particular, would love to accelerate the development of
multithreaded games for the PC, but it realistically won’t have anything
to show until late 2006 when the first major multithreaded PC titles are
scheduled to ship. Looking at the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 being able
to execute six and nine threads, respectively--is the console market
immune to the issues surrounding slow development of multithreaded game
engines? I’ve spent the past couple of months pondering the next-gen
consoles and how development for them would differ from what we’ve seen
on the PC, and for the most part, it looks like it won’t.

According to Microsoft, the first generation of Xbox 360 titles are only
using a single execution thread for the game engine itself, including
all physics, AI, scripting, etc. Some developers have split off physics
(collision detection) into a separate thread, which brings the total
threads consumed up to a whopping two out of the Xbox 360’s maximum of
six concurrent threads. I’ve heard similar numbers for PS3 titles,
although the latter are obviously much earlier in development stages.
But with titles using only one or two threads of execution, they
essentially leave the vast majority of the console’s CPU power untouched.

Instead, what will happen is that developers will spawn other helper
threads to handle things like six-channel audio encoding (which
Microsoft did in a separate DSP in the original Xbox), real-time
decompression of content, and video decoding among other tasks. Take the
Xbox 360, for example; the games on the 360 will continue to use 9GB DVD
discs, offering the same storage space for the 360’s games as the
original console offered four years earlier. Obviously, games made for
the 360 will need a bit more space than those made for the original Xbox
back in 2001, and the system is much more powerful, as well. The result
is that developers will be able to use some of the Xbox 360’s execution
hardware to perform real-time decompression on game data, much like
unzipping files you need right before execution, in order to maximize
space. The unzipping process will be executed in a separate thread, made
possible by the Xbox 360’s support for up to six hardware execution
threads. Another example would be video decoding; game developers will
be able to decode much higher quality video and audio in-game, and that
decoding process will, of course, be run in a separate thread from the
game code.

So from the looks of it, the titles that debut on the Xbox 360 this fall
will be just as single-threaded as what we’ve got on the PC. It is in
the future titles that there is hope for more fine-grained
multithreading, and those titles will most likely make their way into
the 360’s library closer to when the PC gets similarly multithreaded games.

This also means that you shouldn’t expect too much from the very first
launch titles on the next-generation consoles in the way of having
incredible physics or AI simulation thanks to their highly multithreaded
architectures. Instead, the biggest draw this fall and when the PS3
launches next year will be the ability to have high-resolution graphics
and much more detailed graphics thanks to some very powerful GPUs, on a
console, hooked up to your TV. Other than the display medium and the
differences in inputs, the 360 will be quite PC-like this fall.
Anonymous
July 13, 2005 3:27:17 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox (More info?)

On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 19:30:30 GMT, babanoosh <snoop@dodgeit.com> wrote:

>So from the looks of it, the titles that debut on the Xbox 360 this fall
>will be just as single-threaded as what we’ve got on the PC. It is in
>the future titles that there is hope for more fine-grained
>multithreading, and those titles will most likely make their way into
>the 360’s library closer to when the PC gets similarly multithreaded games.

Not exactly true.

Havok Announces HydraCore Technology: Havok announced today its new
software technology designed for multi-core and multi-threaded next
generation game platforms. The company has revealed that Perfect Dark
Zero is one of the games using the Havok technology.

http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/8697/Havok-Announces-Hydr...

http://www.havok.com/company/news/Havok_HydraCore_2005_...
Anonymous
July 13, 2005 5:09:43 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox (More info?)

SupaScape! wrote:
> On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 19:30:30 GMT, babanoosh <snoop@dodgeit.com> wrote:
>
>
>>So from the looks of it, the titles that debut on the Xbox 360 this fall
>>will be just as single-threaded as what we’ve got on the PC. It is in
>>the future titles that there is hope for more fine-grained
>>multithreading, and those titles will most likely make their way into
>>the 360’s library closer to when the PC gets similarly multithreaded games.
>
>
> Not exactly true.
>
> Havok Announces HydraCore Technology: Havok announced today its new
> software technology designed for multi-core and multi-threaded next
> generation game platforms. The company has revealed that Perfect Dark
> Zero is one of the games using the Havok technology.
>
> http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/8697/Havok-Announces-Hydr...
>
> http://www.havok.com/company/news/Havok_HydraCore_2005_...


That's the take from Adnan. However, don't you think that could just be
marketing hype. I, mean with the bad publicity now surrounding this type
of reporting they (software devs) have to think of something right?
Technically, anything that will run on the 360 is "designed" for the 360
no? That's not to say the game will be utilizing more than 1 thread
during gameplay.
Anonymous
July 13, 2005 5:26:50 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox (More info?)

SupaScape! wrote:
> On Tue, 12 Jul 2005 19:30:30 GMT, babanoosh <snoop@dodgeit.com> wrote:
>
>
>>So from the looks of it, the titles that debut on the Xbox 360 this fall
>>will be just as single-threaded as what we’ve got on the PC. It is in
>>the future titles that there is hope for more fine-grained
>>multithreading, and those titles will most likely make their way into
>>the 360’s library closer to when the PC gets similarly multithreaded games.
>
>
> Not exactly true.
>
> Havok Announces HydraCore Technology: Havok announced today its new
> software technology designed for multi-core and multi-threaded next
> generation game platforms. The company has revealed that Perfect Dark
> Zero is one of the games using the Havok technology.
>
> http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/8697/Havok-Announces-Hydr...
>
> http://www.havok.com/company/news/Havok_HydraCore_2005_...
Okay, I've read the thread. It appears so, at least not in the game
development itself but as as a middleware extension. I guess we'll see
how that works. Of course, it's only going to get better huh? Once the
the devs can maximize the multi threaded environments themselves without
the need for the bridge.
!