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Old Fan Works
Cube versus Playstation 2
follows is a nice little comparison between Playstation 2 and Game Cube.
I have listed all the most important specifications and explained the differences
between PS2 and GC. I'll tell you right now, Game Cube comes out the winner
in the end. If I were you, I wouldn't waste my money on a Playstation 2.
PS2 goes against my principles.
|Both processors support 128 bit instructions, but that
was expected. The Game Cube's MHz rating is much higher than the PS2's.
but you have to know what "megahertz" actually means. That is how many
processing cycles a CPU can do in one second. Contrary to popular belief,
megahertz is not necessarily a good measure for comparing speeds of processors.
What really matters is how many operations it can perform in one clock
cycle. For example, CPU A could be 500 MHz, and CPU B could be 1000 MHz.
But if CPU A can perform a thousand operations in one second, while CPU
B can only perform 300, then that means CPU A is faster even though its
megahertz are lower. Don't use MHz as a comparison.
6.2 gigaFLOPS (billion floating point
operations per second)
13.0 gigaFLOPS (billion floating point
operations per second)
|This is how you compare processors. Game Cube's
processor is more than twice as fast as PS2's, which means it can perform
twice as many operations as PS2 can in the same amount of time.
32 K (data memory)
32 K (instruction memory)
256 K (general chache)
|What is a cache? A cache is temporary memory built into
a processor. As you play a game, certain repetetive instructions and other
information is stored in the cache. Stuff the CPU has to access frequently
is put here because it is closer to the processor, and is a hell of a lot
faster than RAM. Plus, it doesn't have to go through the system bus, which
means it take less time. The cache is right there so the processor doesn't
need to ask the rest of the system for it. Game Cube has a very large general
cache, 256 KB. This is the same amount as on a top-of-the-line Pentium
III. It also has two seperate caches specifically designed for storing
data and instructions. This makes the whole system more effiecient and
takes a load off the main system RAM.
|The bus is what the CPU uses to talk to the rest of the
system. All the information from controllers, games, memory, etc. goes
through the bus to the CPU. The faster the bus is, the quicker data can
get to the CPU to be processed. A fast CPU will do you no good if information
can't get to and from it. Game Cube's bus is obviously faster than PS2's,
and when you're playing games it will be able to process information much
more easily without having to worry about a data "traffic jam" in the bus.
Copper interconnects, 0.18 micron process
|How good a processor is ultimately depends on how it's
made. If it's produced crappily, it will work crappily. The PS2's processor
is made with aluminum wiring. Aluminum has the advantage of being cheap,
but the advantages end there. Aluminum doesn't conduct electricity as well
as copper, so the wires in the CPU have to be three times as thick. Since
there is more resistance, the processor generates more heat as it processes.
The advantage of copper is that the wires are thinner, and they produce
much less heat than aluminum. Ever wonder why PS2 needs a fan for its CPU?
That's why. It produces more heat. The Game Cube's CPU generates less heat
and doesn't need a fan for it to cool, simple convection is enough.
vents, heatsinks, & fan
vents and heatsinks (no moving parts)
|Here we go with the cooling. A heat sink is basically a
little radiator attached to the processor which gives it more surface area
to release heat. But for the PS2, a heat sink isn't enough. It has to have
a fan to move more air so it can get rid of more heat. For the Game Cube,
a heat sink is plenty. Also remember that a fan is a moving part, which
means it can break down. If your CPU fan breaks down, then it'll fry the
processor (if it generates too much heat and it can't cool itself, the
wires will melt).
PSX 32 bit CPU
33.8 MHz or 37.5 MHz
handled by main processor
|The I/O is what controls the information that goes in and
out of the system. Information going out is stuff like video and audio
(what you see on the TV), and input is information from the controller.
Guess what? PS2's processor can't handle the I/O by itself, it needs a
seperate processor. Game Cube's I/O is handled by the main processor. This
might sound good at first, but it isn't necessarily so. Another processor
means that the information has to pass through an I/O bus, then to the
I/O processor, then to the CPU bus, to the CPU, then back out of the CPU,
through the CPU bus, to the I/O bus, to the I/O processor, and then back
out to your TV. Game Cube eliminates the need for a seperate processor,
which means data is handled more quickly and more efiiciently. PS2's I/O
processor is needless complication. Plus, game programmers have to program
for the I/O processor seperately. So a Game Cube designer's job is one
step easier. Another reason the PS2 needs an I/O processor is for backwards
compatibility. The PSX games don't know how to "talk" to the CPU, so the
I/O processor has to "translate" it. So this backwards compatibility comes
with a price: dumber circuitry.
33.8 MHz or 37.5 MHz
32 bit address
64 bit data
202.5 MHz, 1.6 GB/sec peak
|The I/O bus is what carries the information in and out
of the system. Game Cube's is nearly five and a half times faster, which
means the information going in and out of your Game Cube goes five time
faster than the PS2. Also, the PS2's bus is 32 bit with 32 bit data. The
Game Cube's can handle 64-bit data, which means that each seperate cluster
of data is twice as big, making it faster and more efficient.
|This is the main memory that handles most of the system's
main tasks. It is the guts of the memory. The more memory you have, the
more information the system can process at one time. Game Cube has more
than PS2, that is good.
32 MB Rambus Ram, 3.2 GB/sec
A-Memory: 16 MB DRAM, speed: 3.2 GB/sec
|DRAM (dynamic RAM) is yet another type of memory. It is
the part of the memory that handles the genral stuff. Notice that 32 of
PS2's 36 megabytes are DRAM. compared to the rest of the RAM on the system,
DRAM is the slowest. So basically, most of the RAM in PS2 is slower than
the RAM in Game Cube. Only about half of Game Cube's memory is this slower
type of RAM.
24 MB 1T-SRAM,
10 ns (12.8 GB/sec)
|Guess what? PS2 doesn't have high-speed RAM. What a pity.
Game Cube has 25 MB of high-speed RAM. Notice that the high speed RAM handles
data four times faster than the ordinary DRAM. So while the PS2's main
RAM is putzing around with its data, Game Cube's high-speed RAM has already
done it. This high-speed RAM makes information go through the system much
more quickly and easily, taking some of the burden off the processor. Also
notice the high-speed RAM is static RAM. Static RAM is something
very special. It's made a lot more simply. In RAM, the actual chip is divided
into thousands of sectors. Each sector is the smallest unit the RAM can
handle at once, and all these sectors work together to create the memory
as a whole. Think of it like cells in your body, each cell does its own
thing, but they all work together to make you work. There is a huge difference
between the sectors in DRAM and SDRAM. In DRAM, each sector has five transistors
(little electronic thingies that electric signals go through), while in
SRAM, each sector has one transistor. This means the information is being
handled by the chip a lot sooner, while PS2's data is still somewhere in
one of those damn transistors. What does this translate to? SRAM handles
information a hell of a lot faster than DRAM.
4 MB dedicated VRAM
2 MB 5ns Frame buffer
1 MB 5ns Texture cache
shares main 24 MB RAM
|PS2 has 4 MB of RAM decicated only to memory. This means
that video information has its own special place in the memory just for
it, how sweet. Notice that the Game Cube has seperate parts of memory for
different types of video, like frames and textures. This makes it able
to handle the information seperately and more easily. Game Cube only has
3MB dedicated to video, and the rest is handled by the main RAM. But this
isn't much of a problem since Game Cube's RAM works more efficiently.
S3 texture compression (hardware based)
|In a nutshell, textures are what make the images in the
game look realistic. The system generates polygons, and then "wraps" the
the textures around them. Think of textures like skin. PS2's textures are
handled by software, which in turn makes the CPU do all the work. This
is inefficient. Game Cube's circuitry has texture support built right into
it, which means the textures are handled in their own special place instead
of totally on the CPU. Plus, the textures support for all the games is
already there on the circuit board. Game Cube game designers don't need
to waste their time on programming texture handling into the software,
it's already done. PS2 game designers have to program their own texture
handling, which translates to a longer development time.
4.7 GB Proprietary DVD
640 MB Proprietary CD
1.5 GB Proprietary 8-cm mini DVD
128 ns access, 16-25 Mbps
|The storage medium is what stores the game itself. The
PS2 uses a disc like a DVD, which can hold 4.7 GB of data, and the orignal
PSX CDs, which hold 650 MB. Game Cube's disc is a smaller (physically)
disc that holds 1.5 GB of data. This might seem like a point scored for
PS2, but think again. The PS2 needs more space to store those textures
(remember those?). In fact, you might be able to store more game programming
on a Game Cube disc than a PS2 disc, read below to find out why. Also,
the smaller physical size of the GC disc is another plus. The smaller size
means that the laser takes less time to find information on the disc. This
translates to faster access times and data transfer rates. The punchline?
Game Cube will read discs at speeds much faster than any other console
(including the Xbox). The data rate for a GC disc will be near that of
the old cartridges, which means almost no load time. Guess what? You PS2
and Xbox gamers will still have to see that God-forsaken "loading" screen.
Well, tough noogies.
S3 texture compresion
|There's those damn textures again. Are you wondering why
I said you could fit more game info on a Game Cube disc? Here's why. The
Game Cube uses compression that squeezes down the size of the textures,
which means you can fit more textures in a smaller amount of space. Let's
go to an example. Say that programmers are designing a game for each system.
The game includes 500 MB of texture data. That's a lot of space for just
textures. So now they have to store those textures on the disc. Surprise!
There is no texture compression on PS2, which means all those tectures
take up 500 MB on the the PS2 disc. But alas! The Game Cube has tecture
compression! Those 500 MB of textures can be squeezed down to 83 MB. So
the PS2's greater capacity doesn't look so good anymore, does it? While
half of the PS2 disc's space is being taken up by memory, the Game Cube
disc has plenty of space left for game code. How do you like them apples?
Media player, Computer
Game Cube Games
|Here we go with the "multimedia capabilities." That's all
I ever hear about PS2 is "multimedia" and "DVD movies." Last time I checked,
they were developing a game console, not a DVD player. I'm assuming you
want to buy a PS2 or Game Cube to play games. What's the other crap for?
PS2 plays movies, and can be used for digital photos, and cable modems,
and a whole bunch of other stuff. Tell me, why would you get a PS2 to hook
it up to a camera or a modem? Have you ever heard of a, oh what's that
thing called, a computer? Don't we have computers for the Internet and
digital cameras? Or maybe they don't use those anymore. If you want to
watch a damn movie, get a DVD player! If you want to surf the Internet
or edit digital photos, get a computer! Why bother doing that on a game
system? A game system is for, get this, playing games! Sony had to dedicate
a lot of their development to making the PS2 able to play movies and all
that other stuff. Nintendo focused on games only. Isn't games the reason
you want a game console? I think the whole idea of an all-in-one device
for that stuff is a bunch of bull. I'm going to buy a Game Cube to play
games. If I want to use the Internet, I'll use my computer. If I want to
edit digital photos, I'll use my computer. If I want to watch a movie,
I'll use the DVD player. And what about backwars compatibility? People
are raving how PS2 has the ability to play old Playstation games. Is this
really necessary? Don't people have original Playstation systems? What
do you need two for? People are always telling me, "Well, I can sell my
old Playstation and make big bucks!" Yeah right, you go ahead and try.
I guarantee you won't get more than $20 for a used Playstation.
Plus, who's going to want to buy an old PS1? If everybody's gonna get a
PS2, no one's going to want a Playstation 1. Reverse copmpatibility isn't
all it's been hyped up to be.
Memory Cards (2 Memory card slots)
8 MB memory card
hard drive (optional)
Memory Cards (2
Memory card slots)
0.5 MB Digicard memory
SanDisk SD adaptor (for 64 MB SanDisk
card, 128 MB will come later)
|Now for information storage. Let's see, the PS2 takes 8
MB memory cards, while the Game Cube takes 0.5 MB cards. Sounds like Playstation's
a winner, huh? Not so fast. Playstation memory cards are expensive ($20
or so). I'm willing to bet that Nintendo's cards will be cheaper. And what
about high capacity storage? With PS2, that can be handled with a nice
little hard drive. So if you want to shell out a couple hundred bucks for
a hard drive so you can have more save slots, be my guest. Although, I
can't think of why anyone would need fifty million save slots. The GC uses
64 MB SanDisk cards. These suckers, are small, cheap, and durable. I'd
like to see you drop a hard drive on the ground and get it to work again.
Drop a solid state memory card? No probelm. Nintendo gets a plus for durability.
Hard drives are notoriously unreliable when it comes to physical shock.
If you misalign one of the magnetic heads in the drive, you've got a nice
CPU: "Emotion Engine"
Vector Unit VU0
multiply accumulator x9
Vector Unit VU0
multiply accumulator x9
Custom PowerPC CPU
32K L1 Instruction Cache
32K L1 8-way Data Cache
256K L2 2-way Cache
32 bit FPU
64 bit FPU
Art-X LSI chip "Flipper"
subpixel anti aliasing
hardware lighting x8
virtual texture design
realtime S3TC texture decomresion
realtime display list decomresion
hardware motion compensation
|You're probably wondering: "What the hell is all this stuff?"
I don't blame you, I don't understand half the stuff on this list. But
here's the gist of it. First of all, remember what I told you about GC's
processor having those nice little caches? Remember, those make processing
graphics easier. An FPU coprocessor is a smaller floating point unit processor
that handles mathematical calculations. Believe you me, there is a lot
of math involved in graphics processing. Game Cube's FPU is less powerful
than PS2's, but that isn't all bad. Look down the list at stuff like vector
processing (vectors has to do with all the little calculations in producing
those pretty little graphics). Notice that the list on the PS2 side is
a little bare, but GC's side is chock-full of little goodies. What does
this mean? Basically, the handling of certain graphics calculations is
programmed into the GC's FPU. All that texture mapping, and blah blah blah
is already on the GC's processor. But the game programmers for the PS2
have it a little tough. They have to program their own texture and graphics
effects and then those instructions go off to the CPU, making it work harder
than it has to. Game Cube programmers don't need to worry about programming
in graphics effects because they're already there; they only have to request
those effects from the processor. So a GC game's designer has it a little
vents, heatsinks, and one fan
vents and heatsinks
|Once again, Game Cube one-ups the Playstation. Remember
what I told you earlier about the copper wiring in GC's processor? Well,
the FPU also uses copper wiring. This means that once again, the GC FPU
will produce less heat than the PS2's. Guess what? PS2's FPU has yet another
fan. That brings the total fan count to 2. Another moving part that can
break down, what a pity. Game Cube once again uses convection for cooling
(look in your physics book if you don't know what convection is).
|I have no idea what a Z-buffer is, but I'm sure it has
something to do with graphics. The PS2's has a "wider" Z-buffer (it handles
32-bit instructions). But also notice that GC's Z-buffer is faster. 32-bit
instructions isn't necessarily better, PS2 can't handle those instructions
well as GC because it has a crappy VRAM. So if its video memory isn't fast
enough, it won't be able to handle the calculations as well.
1 MB 5ns 1T-SRAM texture
2 MB 5ns 1T-SRAM frame buffer
|Oh look, PS2 doesn't have a video cache. Damn. PS2 has
to use its slower main memory to handle video caching, that's just asking
for a data bottleneck. But Game Cube has a nice little cache just for video,
taking some of the load off the main RAM. This will prevent a slow down
during graphics-intensive processing.
|Both systems tie at this particular stage. In case you
don't know, MPEG-2 is a set of algorithms that compress video. DVD movies
are compressed using MPEG-2. Both systems are technologically capable of
decoding DVD movies. But that's where the similarities end. In order for
a system to be able to play a DVD movie, it has to pay licensing fees.
Nintendo has opted not to enable playback of movies. Why? Because these
are game consoles. Why do you need to play a movie on a game console?
The licensing for DVD movies adds $50 to the price tag of the PS2. That's
right, fifty dollars just for licensing. That $50 adds no circuitry
or processors or anything, it's just money so they don't get sued. Frankly,
I'd like to keep my fifty bucks and play my movies on a DVD palyer.
66 million polygons/sec
2-10 million polygons/sec
6-12 million polygons/sec
|Polygons are the little triangles that make up all the
graphics you see on the screen. For months, I have heard Sony tout that
Playstation 2 can process upwards of 66 million polygons per second. I'll
tell you right now that that's all a load of crap. What they don't tell
you is that it can process 66 million polygons/sec only under test conditions.
in a million years will you see that many polygons in a real game. Notice
that Game Cube wins when it comes to real game conditions. Nintendo gave
a conservative estimate when they gave its polygon rate. They tell you
exactly what to expect when playing a game, while Playstation tries to
mislead you by giving experimental numbers. Sony gets a point for deceptive
Custom 16 Bit 101.25 MHz DSP
|Nintendo wins with its sound processing. The PS2 has a
small sound processor, but some of the work is done by the CPU. Bad idea.
Yet another example of Sony asking for a data bottleneck or a slow down.
Notice that the Game Cube has a dedicated sound processor, and a good one
at that. It has a nice 16-bit processor, and that will make the sound on
the Game Cube excellent.
48 ADPCM Channels
defined by software
64 ADPCM channels
64 standard minimum
|Nintendo wins yet again. The PS2 is capable of processing
48 channels of audio at once, that basically means that it can handle 48
seperate sounds at onece. Nintendo can handle 64. But also notice that
the sound channels on the PS2 are once again handled by the software. Sony
must really like making programmers' jobs difficult.
48 KHz (or 44.1 KHz)
selected by I/O processor
|The main sound sampling rates for both systems are the
same. 48 KHz is slightly better than CD quality, by the way. But why does
PS2 have two sound sampling rates? That's because it has to switch to a
lower sampling rate when playing PSX games. Yet another example of having
to dumb down the circuitry to play older games.
Instruction: 8KB RAM+8KB ROM
Data: 8KB RAM+4KB ROM
|Once agian, Nintendo is being nice to the system by giving
sound its own little place in memory. It once again makes the job easier
for the processors. But, of course, the PS2's sound is handled by the main
RAM, the slower RAM.
Well, if you know anything about all
the stuff I tried to explain, then you can't argue that Game Cube comes
out on top. Playstation 2 is simply overpriced and overhyped. It won't
live up to people's expectations. Currently, PS2 costs $300. You won't
see the price going down any time soon. My prediction for the Game Cube
is that it will cost between $150 and $180. Let's see if I'm right. As
far as Sony goes, Nintendo's going to leave them in the dust. Sorry, Playstation.