Sony has unveiled its new PlayStation 3
console, calling it "a supercomputer for computer entertainment".
Will Sony's new
machine keep pole position against Microsoft's
The console is powered by a powerful new processor dubbed
Cell, which Sony says is 35 times faster than the chip inside
the current PlayStation.
The machine is due to go on sale in spring 2006 at an as yet
Rival Microsoft last week showed off its new Xbox 360, while
Nintendo is to reveal details of its own new console, codenamed
Revolution, later on Tuesday.
Seizing the living room
The consoles are opening a new chapter in the history of
video games, offering high definition cinematic images in real
time and the computing power to deliver sophisticated and
The battle for supremacy in the games console
arena is more than just about shooting aliens.
It was designed with broadband and home
networks in mind
Masa Chatani, Sony
These machines are a key part of a campaign to dominate how
people watch films or listen to music at home.
"This is a system to be placed in the centre of the living
room around the world," said Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony's game
unit, at a news conference in Los Angeles announcing the
This strategy parallels that of Microsoft, which is keen to
challenge PlayStation by also making its new Xbox 360 into a hub
for all kinds of media.
Sony's current console, the PlayStation 2, dominates the
current generation of consoles. More than 80 million units have
been sold worldwide, with Microsoft and Nintendo trailing far
Its new console is similar in size to the PS2 but has a more
rounded look. It will be available in black, silver and white.
Sony used much of its presentation to show off the technical
prowess of the Cell processor created with Toshiba and IBM which
forms the brain of the console.
In a dig at Microsoft, Sony said the processor was twice as
fast as the one in the Xbox 360.
The console also boasts a new graphics chip from
Nvidia, which Sony claims can create movie-quality images in
real time in games.
PLAYSTATION 3 SPECS
CPU Cell Processor running at
3.2Ghz with 2.18 teraflops of performance
256Mb XDR main RAM at 3.2 GHz
256Mb of GDDR VRAM at 700Mhz
Memory Stick Duo, SD, compact
flash memory slots
Detachable 2.5 inch hard drive
Support for seven Bluetooth
Six USB slots for peripherals
Supports Blu-ray DVD format
Output in HDTV resolution up to
1080p as standard
The PS3 will use the Blu-ray disc format, which can hold 50
gigabytes of information - the equivalent of six DVDs. It will
also have a small removable hard drive, though Sony did not say
whether it would come as standard.
The PlayStation will come ready to be hooked to the internet,
either via a built-in Ethernet port or via wi-fi.
"The network is a core element of the system," said Masa
Chatani, chief technology officer at Sony's game unit. "It was
designed with broadband and home networks in mind."
The console allows gamers to access their media from anywhere
over the internet, make video calls using a high definition
camera or download new levels or weapons for games.
The controllers are wireless, using Bluetooth technology.
People will be able to plug in other gadgets into it via six USB
The machine will be backwards compatible, meaning gamers will
be able to play PlayStation 2 titles on it.
It also doubles up as a DVD and CD player, with support for a
wide variety of formats.
Sony can count on the backing of some of the biggest names in
the games business such as Electronic Arts, the world's biggest
Among the games in the pipeline are new version of popular
franchises such as racing title Gran Turismo, the role-playing
game Final Fantasy and the gangster title The Getaway.
Several new titles are also planned, including
the samurai epic Heavenly Sword by small UK developer Ninja
E3 is a big,
brash and loud affair
Like other console makers, Sony realises that the new wave of
machines much offer more than prettier graphics.
Key to their success will be the ability of game makers to
tap into the power of these new digital workhorses to produce
original and compelling gameplay.
Developers are aiming to combine processing power and
realistic graphics to better convey emotions and create what one
game maker described as a truly immersive, living breathing
Sony's announcement comes two days ahead of the Electronic
Entertainment Expo or E3, the largest video games event in the
world, which runs from 18 to 20 May.