Skill Gap

Originally posted,

There are significant generation changes in programming (revolutionary) and then the more normal progress (evolutionary). The game industry is a little odd in that we can get stifled or stagnant on a particular generation of technology because of the miss match between technology change and the console generation. The transition from 2D to 3D was a major shift that many programmers were never able to meet, and there was a large shift in the industry. The move to multi core processing was more evolutionary and in many studios the need to even be aware of the requirements for working concurrently was isolated to a few programmers working at lower levels. However, it is my belief that GP GPU is going to be another major shift. The major complaint about programming on the PS3 was that to achieve maximum success it was necessary for many programmers to be able to program and use the SPUs. The next generation of consoles are going to leverage GP GPU algorithms and breaking the standard render pipe. This is going to require rethinking how GPU computational resources are used but more importantly is going to require knowledge of how to setup and use GPU jobs and tasks to get the most out of the new generation of hardware. For people who found the SPUs an issue – this will be much worse IMHO. Just as large a problem is how much of a gap there is being generated between the next generation change and the rather significant changes we’ve seen on the PC landscape in terms of GP GPU and computation in general. The skill gap that we are creating in the industry is significant. I think the companies that come out of the start of the next generation well will be the ones that enforce the culture changes required working on this hardware now (can use the SPU as a basis for skill growth).