The Insomniacs

Can a team of scrappy game programmers save Sony's monster chip?

13 min read
The Insomniacs
Up All Night: Insomniac Games hopes it has created an addictive addition to PlayStation 3’s launch lineup. (Clockwise from top) P.J. McNerny, Alex Hastings, Ted Price, and Eric Ellis.
Photo: Gregg Segal

Last month saw the introduction of the PlayStation 3, Sony’s first new game console in five years. Loaded with new hardware, including a Blu-ray optical disc player, a blazing-fast graphics card, and the nine-core Cell microprocessor, the PS3 has the horsepower to run the most complex and photo-realistic console games ever conceived. But despite all the careful engineering that goes into the hardware of a new game ­console, its fate really rests on whether the games it runs can draw an audience. To a great degree, maintaining Sony’s top spot in the US $30 billion game industry rests with a small company called Insomniac Games, a star among the groups that have churned out a game in time for the launch of the PS3.

When IEEE Spectrum visited Insomniac’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters, it was a stellar blue day in July, but the creators of the best-selling atchet & Clank franchise were thrilled to be inside and hard at work on Resistance: Fall of Man. As the Insomniacs worked, Sony clung to its position ahead of both Microsoft and third-place Nintendo Co., which was to release its new Wii system within days of the PS3 launch. Sony’s original plan was to beat Nintendo to market by several months, but the PS3 launch has been plagued by delays, the most recent due to problems with the Blu-ray optical disc drive. This past September, Sony unveiled scaled-down plans to dole out only 2 million units in the United States and Japan by Christmas, down from an expected 4 million. The company also said it would not have enough stock to roll out the PS3 in Europe until March.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

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Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


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Get the Rohde & Schwarz EMI White Paper

Learn how to measure and reduce common mode electromagnetic interference (EMI) in electric drive installations

1 min read
Rohde & Schwarz

Nowadays, electric machines are often driven by power electronic converters. Even though the use of converters brings with it a variety of advantages, common mode (CM) signals are a frequent problem in many installations. Common mode voltages induced by the converter drive common mode currents damage the motor bearings over time and significantly reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Download this free whitepaper now!

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