Some new information regarding the process of programming for the Playstation 3, suggests that we may have been misled about the difficulty of writing for Sony's new console.
PS3 developers are beginning to surface and are claiming that developing for the Cell powered console is, in fact, very similar to creating content for the PC. It appears that PS3 utilises a cut-down version of Open GL called Open GL ES as its graphics API, making programming for the console a fairly straight-forward process. Two major PS3 developers have recently commented on the process of content creation for Sony's console and both claim that comments released, around XBox 360 launch time, suggesting that PS3 was hard to program for were completely unfounded.
Guerilla Games, developers of the exciting Killzone franchise and Volatile, creators of the Zombie-fest Possession for PS3, commenting to Playstation.com and the Guardian Unlimited: Gamesblog respectively, both agree that the use of Open GL ES makes programming for PS3 much easier than programming for PS2 ever was.
Volatile's lead PS3 programmer, Lyndon Homewood goes even further and suggests that the use of Cg, a version of the C programming language modified to make programming for graphics chips easier, makes working on PS3 similar to creating for PC. At the end of the day it's just a multi-processor architecture. If you can get something running on eight threads of a PC CPU, you can get it running on eight processors on a PS3 - it's not massively different. says Lyndon.
Mr. Homewood does go on to make some direct comparisons between X360 and PS3 and does claim that each console will have its unique benefits and drawbacks. One example the Volatile programmer uses has to do with the way the PS3 accesses video memory, ...the main processor can access all the machine's video memory, but each of the seven SPE chips has access only to its own 256k of onboard memory - so if you have, say, a big mesh to process, it'll be necessary to stream it through a small amount of memory - you'd have to DMA it up to your cell chip and then process a little chunk, then DMA the next chunk, so you won't be able to jump around the memory as easily, which I guess you will be able to do on the Xbox 360.
Lyndon does go on to say however that PS3, mainly thanks to the enhanced capacity of its Blu-Ray drives, will be able to offer much more HD content in games, something which may make PS3 a more enticing option in the long run.
So there you have it, as launch time approaches for PS3, more and more developers are willing to step up and defend Sony's console and the programming process involved when creating content for it. Let's hope more developers give us honest accounts of their experiences working with next-generation consoles.