• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Ken Kutaragi is the Greatest 'emperor' Of All Time and remains SIE's only true visionary

GAF machine

It was then-emperor Kaz Hirai who said "he built an empire".

Not only did Kutaragi build SCE/SIE into an empire, he positioned it to achieve greatness in the present day before passing the scepter to Hirai. His risky decision to trade ease of development for the prospect of a chip faster than Moore's Law has rewarded today’s empire beyond measure, and his legacy provisions continue to sustain the empire’s vigor across various interests.

Hardware -- The popular opinion is that PS3 was a failure, but profit and market share aren't the only measures of success. Technological success can be a measure, but it isn't valued in quarterly/yearly reports and "console wars". Nonetheless, Kutaragi knowingly sacrificed PS3’s near-term profit and market share (he was “aware that with all these technologies, the PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households”) for technological success, mid-term profit and maket share. It didn't go exactly as was hoped (didn't make bank and sell 100 million units), but in the end PS3's sacrificial fate made asynchronous compute engine architecture mainstay tech on PC and console. It's a major attribute of CELL that ranger Mark Cerny knows well, now marketed as 'ACE' on AMD GPUs. These GPUs closely mimic CELL's task submission/job execution (i.e., SPURS), but PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5’s GPUs mimic CELL the closest. They “replicate” PS3’s SPU Runtime System (SPURS) and are SPU task manager (STM)-style efficient. STM (entries [0012], [0015] and [0016] explain what and why; [0070], [0071] and [0072] touch on non-CELL implementations and STM results) allows an SPU to load portions of task queues into its local store (i.e., memory) used as “cache”, select the tasks that match its current program code and return the ones that don't back to main memory to minimize costly context switching/"cache" flushing. PS4/PS4 Pro's GPUs imitate this process by means of a "volatile bit" that selectively invalidates cache lines to reduce cache flushing when L2 is used for compute and graphics at the same time. PS5 keeps with PS4/PS4 Pro’s volatile bit process and has a similar process for its I/O complex. Coherency engines in the complex tell cache scrubbers on the GPU which address ranges to scrub away so as to avoid full cache flushes when the SSD is read. Without these STM-inspired efficiency measures, PS4 Pro and PS5 are easy marks with no way to effectively counter the brute-force asynchronous GPU compute of One X and Series X or outduel SX’s Velocity architecture. That despite both Xboxes being hobbled by D3D12’s Multi-engine Resource/Enhanced Barrier requiring full GPU cache flushes after work is completed. The unpopular fact is that CELL’s system architecture is the saving grace of post-PS3 era PS consoles. They and future PS consoles are Kutaragi's standard-bearers. His due honor for attempting to make CELL a fixture in the world of computing, which unintentionally yet consequently gave Cerny/SIE the privilege of putting certain CELL related features on AMD's GPU roadmap for the benefit of AMD, SIE and industry. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. The 'Road to' begins with CELL tech/PS3.

Software -- Kutaragi's crucible (i.e., a precursor CPU that's GPU-like) tested the mettle of PS Studios' ranks and steeled them for battle in the age of asynchronous GPU compute programming years before the dawn. For two generations, Redmond's assaults have been repelled by happy warriors (e.g., the ICE Team) highly skilled in the art of PS3. Mastery of Packing fp16 shader ops on SPUs and checkerboard MLAA on SPUs were trials for fp16 'Rapid Packed Math' usage and checkerboard rendering on PS4 Pro/PS5. PS3 pushed PS Studios’ elite to be the most cunning at their craft. The evidence of history bears witness to the claim. Kutaragi is the only CEO (or system architect for that matter) to ever guarantee SIE's hardware and programmer competence ahead of future trends. The grateful warriors salute him.

Network -- As SCEI’s emperor with broad authority inside Sony Corp.’s empire, Kutaragi the Great prepared SCE/SIE for future expansion when he commissioned the PSNP’s construction. Emperor Jim Ryan recollected, Kutaragi "talked about this before we could really comprehend what he was saying". His visionary leadership and persistence (he tried with PS BB in Japan, online gaming in the US, etc. but met little success, then tried with PSN) are the reasons for PSN appearing on SIE's timeline when it did. Absent his leadership, SIE are left aimless in the network space until Xbox Live points the way. Kutaragi's previous network efforts and his timing of PSN changed the arc of SIE's history in ways that can’t be fully appraised. Partially though, PSN has been vital to most growth vectors. All of which his successors have reaped/will reap the rewards of. The platform has generated billions in profit since operation, and is the force behind a broader cloud, PC and mobile push to generate billions more in perpetuity.

Multimedia-as-a-Service/Transmedia -- 'games and other services for PlayStation. His goal is to establish the PlayStation as a separate brand, not part of a dedicated Sony network for the online distribution of music, movies, and TV shows', is how a scribe penned Kutaragi’s endeavor to redefine the PlayStation brand. He knew the value of entertainment from PS’s beginning. Music, movies and computer entertainment are his vision. He declared SCE/SIE an empire of entertainment in all forms, and so it is. PS Music with Spotify, Video (now Sony Pictures Core on Plus) and his global aspiration for what emerged as Vue are/were testaments to the declaration. PS Plus’s proposed transition to “Services 3.0” in partnership with leading subscription services is the latest testament. It’s also part of a larger aim to transform SIE into a transmedia superpower by leveraging Sony/SIE's collective strengths in entertainment. Plus 3.0 and PS Productions are elements of a timeless '21 Century Entertainment' strategy that he devised, later adjoined by Ryan to include theme park attractions and toys. If Plus 3.0 ever lists as a Top 5 streaming service by subscriber count, it’ll be because of adherence to Kutaragi’s principal: PS is entertainment, not just games.

Live Service -- Is dead without PSN to support it; and GaaS was always an objective of Kutaragi's network services ambition, per the scribe.

GaaS/Game Streaming -- Kutaragi saw 'the Cloud' gathering from afar and readied PS3 for a ubiquitous game streaming future before it made sense to the masses. Prior to PS2’s US launch, he riddled that PS3 would "totally disappear as a console, as a shape". At 9:51 - 9:52 Tokyo time (2:51 - 2:52 BST if Tokyo time isn’t shown) of his final keynote he predicted that networks would become fast enough to reliably stream video for services by 2016. He then justified PS3's gaming hardware as being necessary to take advantage of a speedier network in the future. PS Now launched in major territories from 2014 - 2016 as a nebulous PS3 requiring a 5mbps connection speed for 720p streaming. As it turns out, one SPU can encode a 720p stream at 5mbps. Every initial PS Now subscriber and every PS3 game that’s ever been or will be streamed from Plus Premium is a credit to him. The PS streaming platform itself is as much a credit to him as it is to David Perry, Steve Perlman and the noble scout, Eric Lempel. SIE was first to act on Gaikai (stream to any webpage/browser) and OnLive (perceptual science, furthered by iSIZE’s acquisition and acquired perceptual precoder) because Kutaragi was first to know: "In the future, broadband will connect all appliances - console, TV, phone, PC, everything. Then exclusivity means nothing".

PC -- A platform that Kutaragi was indifferent towards, but his notion that exclusives would find their way onto PC in the then-future via streaming means that he knew PC would have a role in the empire’s scheme at some point. The eventuality of letting Plus Premium members stream first-party titles they purchase for PC (e.g., Helldivers 2 via Steam Cloud Play developer opt-in) to a TV, phone, tablet or PS Portal also follows his logic; and can't be enabled without his legacy provision, PSN.

Mobile -- Kutaragi considered mobile phones a threat to PS. Xperia Play opened a new front for PS Mobile to go on the offensive, but that wasn’t his call. Emperor Andrew House recalled, "I remember him talking about there was going to be a convergence between all forms of media and entertainment into a single communications device". This all-in-one entertainment/communication device wasn't the Xperia Play, PSP Go or PS Vita. Ancient scrolls reveal that before Kutaragi relinquished the throne, a PSP DualShock dock and a remote play controller (his idea) that served up music, shows, mini games and emails were contemplated. The illustrated PSP docked inside a DualShock was quite likely a peek at the remote play controller's overall final design. The controller was forgotten in time, until it was publicized as a new USPTO filing in 2019. PS Portal is a stripped down derivative of that controller running Android. For now it’s touted as just a remote player, but despite its ~6GB storage (guessing here, I think it’s that small because SIE plans to update Portal with a ML downloader that does ‘Cloud Delivery’ and deletion of individual mobile game levels/areas when necessary so that players can have segments of multiple titles stored and ready to resume delivery, hence Portal's rumored codename: 'Q' 'Lite') it’s only a few approved media and VoWifi apps away from being the device he anticipated and largely filed a patent for in 2006. The head craftsman Hideaki Nishino and his smiths hammered out Portal’s design from PS5’s perspective, but Kutaragi detailed Portal’s invention from a mobility perspective. It’s an important distinction should SIE want to steer mobile loot into its coffers via PS Store purchases (would only be fully downloadable to non-Portal Android and iOS devices) linked to PS Plus for Portal Cloud Delivery and cross-progression.

AI -- It was thought at the time that "one Cell or cluster of Cells can also function as a server; but whereas the present Internet mainly handles characters, applications on the Cell network will also handle semantics and reasoning". Training neural networks on CELL for natural language and autonomous processing was front of mind for Kutaragi, even back then. “Enormous applications that require image processing and large-volume computing” were other CELL use cases he considered. In fact, Toshiba used its SpursEngine variant for Super Resolution video upconversion in the image processing domain. In light of the above, the PS5 Pro GPU leak (specifically, the 8-bit/16-bit ML ops for PSSR) makes for some interesting speculation. Kutaragi once proclaimed that “Cell will evoke the appearance of graphics LSIs". A CELL AI accelerator integrated with PS5 Pro’s GPU shouldn’t even be a legit possibility, but hey it's Kutaragi I'm talking about. He always thought ahead and occasionally did more than necessary for the glory of the empire. The SPU is already a data-flow processor with support for 8-bit/16-bit precision and SRAM connected to a high-bandwidth on-chip network. These characteristics feature on dedicated AI processors from IBM, Graphcore and others (last paragraph). If PS5 Pro’s GPU is a Large-Scale-Integration with a revised CELL as its AI accelerator, then God bless him. PSSR-ized legacy backwards compatibility may be at hand. If it isn’t, then God bless him. At minimum, the GPU will have an AI accelerator that resembles SPU architecture like the Tempest Engine. That's still a win. In any event, he envisioned a chip for the ages full of new age thinking. It continues to prove itself a valuable resource and wise expenditure of the empire’s treasure.

Metaverse -- Ryan saw PS Home as "a very early manifestation of a platform metaverse". Kutaragi saw it as "only the beginning of what will come”. The end he foresaw was make.believe-as-a-service illusions and spectacles to enchant the people. This realm wasn't going to be a metaverse experience. It was going to be a blended 'Cyber Society' experience; a mixed realm that “combines the real and the imaginary” with movies, games and other entertainment. Imagery and text from the period make plain that his intent was for a CELL network to muster the alchemy in cyberspace (possibly a network of petaflop class CELL supercomputers driving ML, MR and other applications, accessed by CELL based consoles distributed across the land running similar apps locally). The imagery used to convey what Kutaragi thought possible in the MR realm of cyberspace, also illustrates emperor Kenichiro Yoshida’s perception of the so-called “metaverse” and Sony’s approach to it (Q2., Q3. and Q4). Kutaragi wasn’t "kRaZy". He was clairvoyant and well versed in matters. One of his earliest insights into a MR cyberverse was recorded by a scribe who wrote that while he was waving his arm, he said: "This, this is the real broadband interface" (last sentence of the article Onslaught posted). Reality interfaces and the alchemy of reality synthesis have come in phases throughout the empire's existence. Phase one was EyeToy, PS Eye with Eye Pet in S3D, Move and the PS3 Reality Synthesis (i.e. end-to-end S3D, Stereoscopic 3D driven by SPUs and the RSX GPU) VR experiments that gave rise to PS VR. Social VR experimentation, PS Camera, HD camera and PS VR2/Sense controllers were phase two. The third phase is in follow ups to these peripherals; in particular PS VR3 (to be renamed PS XR…?), which the upcoming Sony XR HMD already solves for. In that day, Kutaragi's Cyber Society will no longer be a concept of his imagination; rather a reality that his consoles (PS2, PS3) encouraged Magic Lab's magicians and Sony Corp.'s wizards to formulate.

Frankly, Kutaragi was wise beyond his years on the throne. The passage of time, brand/IP maturation and tech advancement across industries affirm his sweeping vision, and have allowed his successors to see what he saw decades earlier as they look to further build on the foundation he laid, while moving to extend the empire’s reach into areas of interest that he identified beyond the traditional pillars he set in place during his rule. All of them were/are executors of a vision that only he grouped among them could bring to mind.

His greatest success is that he made the success of every SCE/SIE emperor before (Toshio Ozawa and Teruhisa Tokunaka were largely titular heads, Kutaragi ran SCEI as a manager) and after him possible. They're all beneficiaries of his gamble to build an empire and of the provisions he made to secure it decades into the future. None of his successors have ever had to guess the empire’s direction. He set the course decades ago. They’ve only had to progress in the way chosen while consumer behavior, economic/market conditions, available tech and the empire's resources dictate pace.

Here’s to Ken Kutaragi, the man, the myth, the legend, "the Oracle", THE G.O.A.T. May he continue to live long.

Long live the empire.


Past and present emperors can say that they cut costs, streamlined operations, consolidated silos, improved communications, avoided pitfalls, forged partnerships, made exclusive deals, approved major acquisitions, pivoted to other areas for growth and led the empire through challenging circumstances on the way to greater expansion and wealth. Kutaragi can say he did most if not all the same.

But not one of them can say that they:
  • took great risk in funding the R&D of a radical future-forward processor and pliable system architecture that has since informed modern PC/console GPU design and customization at no risk to AMD/SIE
  • tested and honed the GPGPU programming skills of PS Studios' elite (and their willing brothers in arms outside SIE) on a CPU ahead of its time
  • built a network to commune PS users, traffic billions of dollars in commerce and provide a foothold in network services across platforms for generations to come
  • established SCE/SIE as an entertainment company and laid out a business strategy that draws from all corners of Sony/SIE to widen PlayStation’s appeal beyond gaming
  • archived a mobility-focused controller on the suspicion that mobile phones posed a danger to PS consoles
  • foretold the application of AI to aide and the coming MR cyberverse to entertain, then left behind a chip thoroughly suited for accelerating AI in parallel with computing networked MR at scale
  • defined SIE's past, present and future
Only he can say that...

Long live Ken Kutaragi.

Long live the empire.

Long live Play.
Last edited:


Untill he almost killed the brand with the PS3. And all that Technological success is BS, thers a reason PS4 and PS5 abandoned that exotic architecture. If devs are not able to extract the power of your hardware, you already failed.
NaughtyDog said developing for PS3 was like solving a Rubix Cube, and they were one of the few that bothered extracting the power the console had to offer.
Last edited:


Still almost killed Playstation in the pivotal moment where online playing was getting massive on console. I doubt he sacrificed anything on purpose.


World’s Biggest Weeb
This guy was comedy gold, I swear he would just say whatever crazy shit popped into his head. Like:

"You can communicate to a new cybercity. Did you see the movie The Matrix? Same interface. Same concept. Starting from next year, you can jack into The Matrix!"

Some stuff is hard to find now but from my memory:

- something like “who ever told you PlayStation 3 is a game console? It’s a home entertainment supercomputer”

- talk about bow PS2 would support Macromedia Flash and AOL instant messenger so you could run that stuff on a second screen while you play

- talk about how you’d be able to “age” DVD movies on PS3 by copying them to the HDD, and the Cell processor would do some kind of offline upscaling and make your movies look better and better the more they aged.

- PS3 is too cheap


thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Obviously the cell decision on the PS3 was controversial. The ps3 without question is a great console and against the RROD machine and on the flip side the Nintendo Wii we really saw PS3 at its best during its last few years (Uncharted 3, Last of Us etc.) I would imagine the cell engine gave developers issues but they solved they soon after.


Cheeks Spread for Digital Only Future
I like the idea that he made the PS3 deliberately crap so that the software guys would be trained under extreme conditions, Dune style.
All hail Emperor Atreides Kutargi
Last edited:


Gold Member
The man is such a visionary he created the most obtuse console in history for literally no reason that was so notoriously difficult to work with it damn near killed Playstation. PS3-era Sony was a disaster.

Mark Cerny is the true visionary.


Well, for what is worth - PS3 was last true unique Playstation architecture that's not a modified x86 PC.
You can say many things, but it had it's ups and downs. For one, it did retain its exclusives to itself quite some time, and still some are exclusive to it so far. (Like MGS4) - probably because it was harder/not cost effective to port to other platform.


No one shall be brought before our LORD David Bowie without the true and secret knowledge of the Photoshop. For in that time, so shall He appear.


- PS3 is too cheap
In context, that was actually true at launch. PS3 cost of manufactor was around 800$ and was sold for 600$. The Bluray player on PS3 was on par with a 1000$ standalone bluray players, and even had the advantage of possible improvements by firmware updates.

But all this just made Playstation divison going to the red for like 3 or 4 years untill they started cutting feautures from the OG console and the bluray tech got cheaper.


Ken Kutaragi was a great engineer, but a shit CEO.
He got there in April 1999 when all the planning leading to the launch of the PS2 was already done, PS3 was his baby on all fronts and no one was there to stop him. Nobuyuki Idei and Sir Howard Stringer (heads of main Sony at 1998; 2005) probably didn't care enough to do anything.
Last edited:


This is a CEO.....a business guy and you act like he is some prophet.

If this was Nintendo I would agree.
He gets credit for the PS1 and PS2 that changed the way we now see home consoles. Playstation 1 and 2 ofered a much bigger and diverse library of games than any other consoles ever did. This was also part of why Playstation became sucessfull right from the start.
Last edited:


He gets credit for the PS1 and PS2 that changed the way we now see home consoles. Playstation 1 and 2 ofered a much bigger and diverse library of games than any other consoles ever did.
At least for PS1, he gets credit for hardware, but everything related to content involves a lot of corporate operations that have many different people at the helm (like heads of publisher relations).
Last edited:


The PS3 was relatively cheap considering what it offered, namely Blu Ray in 2006. But the question was if consumers really needed BR, XDR RAM, SD card slots etc.

And while I respect Ken Kutaragi's work a lot, I wonder if it was such a visionary take to go all in on a new format with VOD being around and streaming just around the corner. It was already known by 2006 that digital would be the future for media. On top of that Sony didn't go all in with online yet, another thing the industry was clearly steering towards.


You could go to the same lengths about Iwata, not about technological progress but more about the future of the company itself and gaming.

Foresaw the future about Nintendo only being able to exist as Nintendo. Not as a competitor to other platforms, but as the sole existing curator and platform to experience Nintendo's integral creations.

The need to expand it's IP's visibility in order to drive growth to it's fundamental singular platform.

To no longer divide and segment Nintendo's development groups, and instead create one cohesive whole.

To envision gaming as a hobby amongst all to share, and create forms of gaming that appeal to virtually everyone.

Wii is probably the most forward thinking console of our time. While everything was a bit obtuse, it worked and laid the groundwork for what inevitably will become a 2 facet experience to gaming.

VR/AR is unavoidable, motion and physicality in gaming is a revolution. Strapping a headset to your face isn't.

Switch is a stopgap until tech evolves. Be not surprised when Nintendo takes the leap it did with the Wii once again, to reach Billions this time.

Iwata knew software is key, as a developer himself. One game is all it takes.

Blah blah blah, I'm not gonna go off the rails and akin Iwata to a pope.

Kutaragi was definitely obsessed with having an entertainment empire.

But Iwata just wanted a simple place for everyone to game.

Here's to Nintendo's Vision

Whenever the hell it comes out, the eyeglasses that change the world.

Oh yeah, Iwata wore glasses.

Top Bottom