Monday, May 16, 2005

PS3 Info

There's already some information about the PS3 over at Here's an excerp (link
The PS3 is set to use a single Cell CPU at its core, which will run at 3.2Ghz. The system will boast around 2.18 Teraflops of performance - almost twice the raw performance of Microsoft's Xbox 360, if the Teraflop statistics from both companies are to be believed. Sony even went so far as to display a bar chart of the relative floating point performance of the Xbox 360 and PS3 on the giant screen in the exhibition hall, in a rare acknowledgement of Microsoft as a competitor.

Like Xbox 360, PS3 will have 512MB of RAM, but unlike its rival console, which has a unified memory architecture that shares RAM betwen the CPU and GPU, it will divide that up in much the same way that modern PCs do - with 256MB of very high speed XDR main RAM running at 3.2Ghz, and 256MB of GDDR graphics RAM running at 700Mhz.

The graphics chipset, meanwhile, has been named the RSX - which stands for "Reality Synthesizer", as opposed to the "Graphics Synthesizer" that powered the original PlayStation 2. Never let it be said that Sony let an opportunity for a pretentious name pass them by. The part, which has been manufactured by NVIDIA, is described as being more powerful than two GeForce 6800 Ultra boards, which are the current top of the range PC graphics solutions, and will output in HDTV resolutions all the way up to 1080p as standard.

A couple of things jump out immediately. One, the system will have the same amount of memory as the Xbox, which is a surprise (and excellent news). Second, the system is going to support 1080p--the Xbox 360 tops out at 1080i. I believe that's mostly included to support high-definition DVD, and very few display devices even support 1080p at this point, but it's going to be a real coup 2-3 years from now when those displays are much more common. Nicely done.

Here's more:
Looking past the impressively powerful core specification of the machine, Sony's ambitions to turn the PlayStation into a home media hub are readily apparent in the wide range of ports and media connections which the system sports.

Along with the expected network port (Gigabit Ethernet), AV multi-out port and SP/DIF optical audio out port, the PS3 also has two high-resolution HDMI video ports, slots for Memory Stick Duo, SD Cards and Compact Flash cards, six USB 2.0 ports and - like the Xbox 360 - a slot for a removeable 2.5" hard drive module. Controllers will be wireless, as expected, and out of the box the system can support up to seven controllers using the Bluetooth standard for connectivity. No more multi-taps, then.

This box is about as loaded as a box can be. I have to believe that Sony thinks this console will last 5-7 years with this feature set and power. It's difficult to compare system power, but like the excerpt says, based on the Teraflop statistics it looks like the PS3 is about twice as powerful as Xbox 360, which is staggering, because the Xbox 360 is a beast. What I can't answer is how much the embedded DRAM on the Xbox 360 will narrow the gap.

My only question about this sytem, based on the astonishing system specs, is the cost. How does Sony deliver this system for $399? The market will absorb a $50 price delta between the two consoles, I believe, but $100 is dicey, and forget it at $150. As brilliant as this box appears to be, it will puke in the U.S. at $499, no matter the feature set.

So the pre-unveiling gamesmanship has ended, but the financial gamesmanship has just begun.

Oh, and one more thing--the U.S. release is June 2006 at the earliest. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft can do with their headstart.

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