December 6, 2000
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Re: Emotion Engine vs P3
"The PC is a legacy-laden architecture. It was originally designed around office applications, not 3D rendering. Even in the most advanced current system--either the P-4 or an Athlon--has bottlenecks with legacy peripherals and multiple buses."
Let's talk about this some more, shall we? Microsoft is putting a lot of stock into their video card and not into their base processing power. A P3 is a P3. It is designed for a low-bandwidth front-side bus, and it is an extra component. The video system is totally separate, and you have to talk to it through another interface. Will the CPU share RAM space with the graphics processor? With DDR? Good idea! Now two systems can cause overloading of the memory system, which - as we know all too well - greatly increases latency in DDR.
What you are getting here, at best, is a mediocre PC with a very good graphics card. You can go out and buy this for well under $1000 today and see what the games look like. That is what the games on the X-Box are going to look like. No matter what Microsoft tries to pull here, they are not going to be able to get around the problems inherent to the PC architecture. It just was not designed for gaming.
The games will be very good, but they will not compare to the PSII today. That is my prediction. I also predict that the system will cost more than a PSII costs today. It's likely that the PSII prices will drop to $200US by then, so Microsoft will have a really hard sell - an inferior machine at a higher price. I would expect them to try to introduce the machine for $300, though I doubt they can sell it for a profit for less than $400.
If you want an X-Box, you have the specs in front of you. Go out and buy a cheap 700MHz P3 or AMD (the processors are roughly equivalent, I think). Now buy a top-of-the-line video card, something that really rocks. The best thing on the market. Actually, the best stuff on the market is equivalent to about half of an Emotion-Engine chip the last time I looked, but get the best one you can. If you build your own systems and you have hardware lying around, you can probably build an X-Box today for around $400US. Why wait? You can have an inferior X-Box clone today. Or just wait until after Christmas and pick up a PSII for the normal retail of $299. You know you want one. I sure do. I want one bad.
A couple of the guys I work with bought PSIIs early on E-Bay for a ridiculous price, and they were very happy to pay it. The system rocks. It is a quantum leap in gaming technology. I was watching the Madden 2001 game. You can see the faces of the players, and they have shape! It isn't just a picture rendered to a flat surface. The camera angles, the announcer's voices - they are like a real football game. You can see sweat on the players. The field looks real. From Mile-High Stadium, you can actually see the half-completed new stadium in the background. For Christ's sake, the line judge occasionally trips and falls when they are moving the flags! You don't get that kind of play from the same game in the PC version. It is a good game, but the realism on the PSII is just unparalleled. It's awesome. I want one!
I'll tell you, if I thought that this gaming thing really meant a big deal to Microsoft's bottom line, I would sell my stock in a minute. They are a software company. They should be developing games for the PSII instead of developing their own standard. I can see owning a PC and a PSII. Why in the world would I own a PC and an X-Box when all the games available for the X-Box will most likely play better on my Rambus-enabled P4 with a state-of-the-art video card? I think Microsoft has lost their mind on this one. Anybody remember Bob? This is like "X-Bob".
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