How powerful is the PSP2?

Alright, so Sony just announced the PSP2. It’s using really nice hardware and I’m glad that Sony is forward thinking with the hardware choice.  To give you an idea, Sony […]

Alright, so Sony just announced the PSP2. It’s using really nice hardware and I’m glad that Sony is forward thinking with the hardware choice.  To give you an idea, Sony went with a chipset that is a generation ahead of anything else that is on the market.  But I know a lot of people want to know what the new chipset is comparable to.  Is the PSP2 as fast as the PS3?  Is it better?  I’ll try to break it down for you, to the best of my ability and as much information is available to me.

The horsepower for the PSP2 is a Quad-Core Cortex A9 and Quad-Core SGX543MP4+ gpu.  What is going to be drawing to the screen, however,  is the GPU.  So let’s break it down: the SGX543MP4+ indicates that it is using 4 GPU cores, (will have to find out what the + indicates) each core having 4 USSE2 (Universal Scalable Shader Engine) pipelines for a total of 16. In comparison the 360 has 48 unified pipelines and the PS3 has 24 pixel pipelines and 8 vertex pipelines.  So the SGX can do as much work as the PS3 vertex-wise (provided all the whitepaper information is correct)  but we have NO basis for what frequency the SGX is running at.   At 200MHz core frequency an SGX543MP4 (four cores) will deliver 133 million polygons per second and fill rates in excess of 4Gpixels/sec assuming a scene depth complexity of x2.5.  With greater depth complexity, we probably lose the efficiencies brought about from the tile based deferred renderer, as best I understand it.  At 4Gpixels/sec we are matching the theoretical pixel fill rate on both the 360 and the PS3.  As far as I’ve read about PowerVR’s TBDR engine, the proposed tri’s/sec and fill rate were the actual fill rate, so this is really impressive.  However, if we go over the z complexity supported, the SGX starts hitting RAM and RAM will be WAY slower than what is currently available on both the 360 and the PS3.  And we also lose that 4Gpixel/s number.

So what’s missing? We are missing two huge pieces of data.  What frequency is the clock of the SGX543 at and what are the specs of the RAM?  Capacity is a concern as well, because we need to know how much texture data we can store.  What if the PSP2 uses system/video RAM instead of a unified ram architecture?  If we only have 64MBs of fast video RAM, you are limiting the amount of texture data available to games.  The benefit here is that ImgTech’s GPU’s have always been designed with memory efficiencies in mind.  The whole system is designed to do as much work on chip as possible and not be as dependent on RAM as most systems are designed today.  Even ARM’s cpu’s are highly memory efficient.  More than likely, the PSP2 will be using LPDDR2 as a unified memory architecture at 1GB in size.  Now, will it be single channel or dual channel?  I’m not sure.  If we read here: http://low-powerdesign.com/sleibson/category/lpddr2/ we see that using dual-channel RAM doubles power consumption.  Considering that the PSP2 will not be a phone (grumble…grumble) I’d wager that Sony is using dual channel memory.  But Sony hasn’t announced anything yet.

So is it more powerful than the PS3 or 360? Short Answer: No.  Long Answer: There are some numbers that get thrown around a lot, like the PS3 is capable of 275M poly/sec and the Xbox 360 is capable of 500M poly/sec.  But what we don’t know is how many polys these systems can push will full effects on.  ImgTech throws us 133m poly/sec (remember IF the gpu is clocked at 200Mhz) but again, we don’t know if that is with full effects on or if that is using all available vertex pipelines just to draw un-shaded poly’s.

The major difference is that we know what most games are resolved at.  Most games are done at 720p (with the exception of some of the more popular 360 games going down to 640p) and upscaled to 1080p.  So a good baseline is that the PS3 and the 360 have to resolve a game with all effects on, fully textured at 921,600 pixels per frame.  The PSP2’s screen is running at 960 x 544 on a beautiful OLED screen (Thank god, the original PSP screen was atrocious) so it has to resolve 522,240 fully textured pixels per frame.  The PSP2 has to worry about 43% less screen to resolve.  That’s considerable.  So, no, the PSP2 is not as powerful as the PS3 or the Xbox 360.  However, because it has less screen to worry about it can produce stuff that looks as good as this (skip to 22 seconds to see uncharted):

As soon as I can get some more concrete information from ImgTech of Sony, I’ll be updating this post will more relevant information.

These are the current specs offered by Sony:

CPU ARM® Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
GPU SGX543MP4+
External
Dimensions
Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
Screen
(Touch screen)
5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED
Multi touch screen (capacitive type)
Rear touch pad Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
Cameras Front camera, Rear camera
Sound Built-in stereo speakers
Built-in microphone
Sensors Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
Location Built-in GPS
Wi-Fi location service support
Keys / Switches PS button
Power button
Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
Right stick, Left stick
START button, SELECT button
Volume buttons (+/-)
Wireless
communications
Mobile network connectivity (3G)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)
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