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The Race For A New Game Machine: great book!

I just read The Race For A New Game Machine today on a cross-country flight, and wow.. fun read!

If you've ever read Tracy Kidder's great book The Soul of a New Machine, you'll know what to expect. But this book chronicles the SONY/Toshiba/IBM Cell partnership, and the creation of the processor core at the heart of both the PS3 and XBOX360 from the point of view of lead architect David Shippy. Not only is it full of interesting technical details**, but it exposes a dark story of manipulation, deception, betrayal and broken friendships. Some of the story is so strange it's hard to believe.

Many years ago I was involved in a some work with Toshiba and SONY around the Emotion Engine, the MIPS-based core used in the PlayStation 2. The team at Cygnus/Red Hat had done lots of work on PS2 development tools, and we all liked working with the Toshiba and SCEI people. It was disappointing to learn that we weren't going to participate in the Cell project but, after reading this, maybe it was for the best!

** This book introduced me to clock gating, a trick used by ASIC developers to save power. Shippy's core passed a "power token" through the processor pipeline, ensuring that at any one time the only pipeline logic being clocked was the logic being used. Neat trick, but apparently the savings aren't that great for FPGAs.

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