"As Sony Computer Entertainment fused the technology of computers and world of entertainment and evolve a new market called Computer Entertainment, we are now pioneering the creation of realtime digital entertainment through an extension of the technology of PlayStation2." - Ken Kutaragi, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America
is a digital entertainment
creation and distribution device developed by Sony. Nicknamed "The Fridge", the GScube uses the Emotion Engine
(engineered by Toshiba
) and Graphics Synthesiser
processors found in the PlayStation 2
, but on a much larger scale, using a parallel processing
system. The prototype box that Sony displayed at SIGGRAPH
2000 featured sixteen Emotion Engine processors and another sixteen Graphical Synthesisers on top of that.
So, what is the reason for all this power? Currently, in the CGI movie industry, many hours have to be spent rendering frames and frames of complex scenes - some taking, on average, seven hours to render on even the most up-to-date SGI machines. One of the GScube's main features is to take graphical data from a host server, and render it in realtime, at close to render farm quality. To give an example, one of the demonstrations at SIGGRAPH was the realtime rendering of scenes from Antz (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was also shown). The GScube could render this in realtime, at a constant 60fps in progressive scan, at a resolution of 1920x1080 - twice the quality of the HDTV standard (the quality was so high that Sony had to use a specially developed monitor to display it).
As well as being a powerful tool for the development studios for the instant previewing of their work, Sony are also targetting digital cinema distribution and broadcasting. Another demo at SIGGRAPH showed how the GScube can work with an IMAX Digital Projection Lighting projector to generate realtime content for cinemas. There is the potential of using a GScube in conjunction with a broadband server (such as the SGI ORIGIN 3000) to digitally download films via a high-speed network connection.
16x Emotion Engine (each 128bit, 294.912Mhz)
16x enhanced Graphics Synthesiser (147.456Mhz)
Estimated Real Performance:
Up to 128MB; up to four of the chip pairs can be reconfigured to handle audio
Up to 16 channels, 16bit, four channels per configured soundboard
Parallel bus, 1024bit for data transfer, 32bit for control
Controlled externally by a host computer and fed data by a server
Sources: Edge Magazine's 'Essential hardware guide 2000'