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Sony ditching The Cell for PlayStation 4?

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The latest batch of next-gen speculation and rumour says Sony will be ditching the fabled Cell processor for the PlayStation 4. According to Kotaku’s sources, the notoriously difficult-to-program-for Cell will be ditched in favour of all new architecture.

The Cell, an incredibly powerful processor jointly developed by Sony, Sony Computer Entertainment, Toshiba, and IBM  – supported by 8 “synergistic processing elements”  was supposed to make the PS3 the most powerful console in the world. It was ludicrously difficult to work with though, and it took developers who weren’t privy to Sony’s funding and knowledge of its intricacies years to wrap their heads around. As a result, it never really outshone the older Xbox 360.

That could change with the PlayStation 4. Rumours have already fingered AMD as the supplier for Sony’s next GPU (instead of the nearly off the shelf Nvidia chipset that powers the PS3) – but it’s entirely possible they might be supplying the CPU as well, possibly in the form of AMD’s Fusion – which puts the CPU and GPU on the same chip. It would also make the next PlayStation much easier to develop for – something that’ll be good news to aspiring PlayStation developers, and somewhat less good news to those who’ve spent the last few years getting to grips with the architecture.

The lack of The Cell in the next PlayStation does put backwards compatibility at risk though, and with how people reacted to The PlayStation 3 losing backwards compatibility, I’m not sure it’s a risk Sony wants to take. Do you think it’s time Sony dropped the Cell pipe-dream, or should they stick with it in the hope that it really does become…the future?

Last Updated: March 1, 2012

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