Why The PS3, Not the Xbox 360, Is the King Of Super Consoles

For all that it is worth, the announcement that a team of scientists at the University of Warwick managed to run scientific applications on the Xbox 360 could be seen as a non-event.

For the power really resides with the Sony's Playstation 3 gaming console as far as theoretical figures are concerned. The Xbox 360 is powered by a Xenon processor which has three cores - with a combined theoretical peak performance of 115.2 GFLOPS - and is based on IBM's PowerPC; surprisingly, the Xenon is related to the Sony's Playstation 3.

But it was actually the Xenos GPU developed by ATI, that the group led by Dr Simon Scarle developed code for in what they believe was the first attempt to use Xboxes as a cheap way to conduct parallel processing calculations. The Xenos has a maximum peak performance of 240 GFLOPS; this gives a total of 355 GFLOPS.

The Playstation 3 on the other hand uses a Cell microprocessor combined with a RSX Reality Synthetizer based on the NV47 technology from Nvidia. When both are used altogether, their processing power exceeds 300 GFLOPS.

However, Sony claims that its console can reach two TeraFLOPS while Microsoft reckons that the XBox 360 can achieve one TeraFLOP. Clearly therefore, there's a game of smokes and mirrors going on as far as raw power is concerned.

The REAL reason why Sony manages to outweigh the Xbox 360 for now is that the Playstation 3 has been more widely adopted by the scientific community. The most popular distributed data-crunching system around is Folding@home, one where the Xbox is non existent.

The combined 38 thousand active PS3 consoles reached 1.08 PetaFLOPS. In comparison, the combined performance of nearly 225,000 Windows PCs only scored 213 TeraFLOPS.

Scarle and his team are just at phase one of their journey, they haven't yet extended the Xbox 360's capabilities to include networked capabilities.

Our Comments

The real power though lies in the hands of GPU such as Nvidia's or Ati's. Around 28,000 active GPU managed to generate a combined performance of more than 3 Petaflops. However, game consoles can be purchased for cheap. The Xbox 360 for example costs around £150 while a fully fledged computer with four ATI Cards can costs more than £2000.

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