PlayStation2: The future of online gaming

When Sony first announced the Emotion Engine - on 2 March 1999 - its performance claims were greeted with much scepticism. The Emotion Engine was developed jointly by two of the world's leading electronics companies, Sony and Toshiba, which should have been enough to warn the sceptics that it could really do what was claimed. The engine is a 128-bit CPU that runs at a clock speed of a fraction under 300MHz. In order to process massive multimedia information at the fastest possible speeds, data bus, cache memory and all registers are 128-bit, integrated on a single chip. The chip was the first to use 0.18-micron technology, beating Intel's latest Pentium III.

The CPU incorporates onto one silicon chip two 64-bit integer units with a 128-bit SIMD multi-media command unit, two independent floating-point vector calculation units (VU0, VU1), an MPEG 2 decoder circuit and high performance DMA controllers. This, according to Sony, permits the high-speed performance of complicated physical calculation, NURBS curved surface generation and 3D geometric transformations, which are difficult to perform in real time with PC CPUs.

By processing the data at 128 bits on one chip, it is possible to process and transfer massive volumes of multimedia data. The main memory supporting the high-speed CPU uses the Direct Rambus (DRAM) in two channels to achieve a 3.2GB/second bus bandwidth. This, says Sony, equates to four times the performance of PCs built on the PC-100 architecture.

By incorporating the MPEG 2 decoder circuitry on one chip, it is possible to simultaneously process high-resolution 3D graphics data and high-quality DVD images. As a result, the joint venture partners claim their Emotion Engine is capable of producing up to 66 million polygons per second, comparable with that of high-end graphics workstations used in motion picture production.

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