RPCS3 emulates the PS3 on PC. More or less
The seventh generation of home consoles is about to reach the last stage of its commercial life, a new console war looms on the horizon and the emulation scene delivers the nth project with an “impossible” objective, ie a software replica of the powerful hardware components of the Sony PlayStation 3. The new emulator is called RPCS3, the development team has great ambitions but right now the software isn’t more of a multi-window shell with little to show on the screen.
RPCS3 is an open source emulator/debugger written in C++ for Windows operating systems, the developers explain in the official FAQ, its minimum requirements are a modern CPU supporting the SSE instructions and an OpenGL 3.3 compatible GPU and it is currently capable of running only small homebrew applications like the Tetris draft that can be viewed in the image below. The emulator is in its initial development stage, the programmers explain, so it still lacks what’s needed to run the commercial games available on the PS3 platform.
The last official version of RPCS3 (0.0.0.2) dates back to June 2012, while works on the code are progressing in a seemingly steady manner and the latest intermediate build – available on EmuCR since a few hours ago – includes improvements to Vertex and Fragment Shader decompilers, bugfixes and the implementation of new system calls for the GCM – one of the two rendering APIs available with the official PS3 SDK. Clearly all this stuff is useless from a gaming point of view, seeing that the emulator’s final objectives (easing the developers work and letting the users play with PS3 games on PC) are still far away in the future.
Emulating the PS3 is an impossible objective, I was saying, considering the complexity of the hardware architecture inside the Sony seventh generation console, the raw power of the Cell multi-core processor and the RSX “Reality Synthesizer” GPU – based on the NVIDIA GeForce 7 – and taking into account that the new games released for the platform are still capable of offering (after the console’s almost seven years market presence) a level of technical sophistication that lives up to the users expectations.
Two good omens for the new, ambitious project are the previously achieved faithful emulation of the PlayStation 2 through PCSX2 – another software that accomplished something considered “impossible” just a few years ago – and the involvement, in the RPCS3 development, of one of the programmers (Shadow) that in 2001 – just a year after the PS2 release – created the aforementioned PCSX2 project. Replicating the PlayStation 2 on PC required many years of reverse engineering and hard work on the code, the bets are open on how much time will be needed to do the same thing with a console – the PS3 – based on a hardware dating to 2006.