Digital Foundry: "new PlayStation 3 consists of eight custom console units built into a single rack server."
Although Sony's recently announced PlayStation Now remains mysterous and lacking several key details at the end user level, the service has advanced far beyond its initial Gaikai teasing. Already, new Bravia sets and PS Vitas have been demonstrated with PS3 titles, though through local networking. Sony has explained that the service is meant to allow play through a variety of devices coupled with a DualShock3 and 5 mbps connection. One of the details yet to be revealed is what will be powering all of this streaming gameplay?
According to Digital Foundry and Eurogamer, "Sony experimented by placing standard retail units into datacentres, but plans to use this for the actual PlayStation Now service were shelved for a number of reasons. For starters there's the sheer space requirement, along with power efficiency issues, as even the most recent PS3 hardware can still draw up to 80W from the mains. Sony's engineers were able to mitigate both issues by shrinking the equivalent of eight PS3s onto a single motherboard, housed in a slimline server cabinet."
This new PS3 design, Digital Foundry speculates, could be key for cutting down on latency. "While we expect the basic designs of Cell and RSX to remain untouched, non-critical areas of the hardware can be upgraded. The network interface could be improved with a lower-latency interface, while the controller inputs could be swapped out with faster, hard-wired alternatives to the current wireless Bluetooth option... A more significant latency saving could be achieved by bypassing the PS3's HDMI output altogether. Scan-out - the process of displaying the current framebuffer on-screen - takes 16.67ms. A PlayStation 3 cloud server could see the frame dispatched to a hardware h.264 video encoder as opposed to the existing console's HDMI output."
Digital Foundry continues to say that these changes won't be near enough, and that the Gaikai team will have to tap into the PS3's original design talent to bridge the latency gap.
Author: Brian Hoss