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Next-Gen Console Focus - Playstation 3 - 7th Generation Console With A Cell For Power


The Playstation began way back in 1986 - when Nintendo was experimenting with disc reading technology. when the CD ROM XA format was released, Nintendo began to talk to one of the two companies involved with the standard ... Sony. The two companies struck a contract deal whereby Sony would develop a Nintendo branded console that would load both traditional cartridges and the new Sony-developed CD format for gameplay.

However, the deal fell through in a shocking fashion at the 1991 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) when behind-the-scenes re-negotiations by Nintendo cancelled the contract between them and Sony and struck a new deal with Philips. This sent waves through the Japanese business community as this type of backstabbing had never before been done - it as very un-Japanese. However, the deed had been done, and Sony was left in the cold. They took their technology which they had dubbed "Play Station" and went forward with it, developing their own games for the new console.

The Official Launch of the PlayStation was on Dec 3, 1994 and in North America on Sept 9, 1995. The PlayStation had in fact released over a year previously in Japan and had been the subject of a lawsuit between Sony and Nintendo as Nintendo tried to block sales and production claiming full ownership of the technology. Nintendo lost the lawsuit.

Sony had an innovative advertising campaign that helped to massively fuel expectation for the PlayStation release to a public unaware of Sony as a gaming company. It worked and has helped to push sales of the PlayStation console to more than 100 million units by the end of it's production run in March 2006.

The Playstation 2 was next - with development being announced in March 1999, the 6th Generation console was unleashed to a waiting world in 2000, and rapidly outsold everything else - to date over 120 million Ps2 consoles have been sold.

The PS2 had a unique feature in it's casing, the ability to fully play PSone or original PlayStation games due to the addition of the PSone chipset in the PS2 case, so it did not run a PlayStation emulation, it ran an actual PlayStation itself.

The PS2 went up against the newly released Xbox and the Nintendo Gamecube - due to the marketing campaigns and effective game development, the PS2 won the duel and emerged Sony as the industry leader - a title it would hold until the release of the Xbox 360.

With the release of the Xbox 360 and the massive delays in the PS3 release, Sony has slipped - they still hold the title of market leader, but they are slipping daily as both Microsoft and Nintendo gain on Sony's head start.

The Playstation 3 was announced after many months of speculation at the E3 conference on May 16, 2005. The PS3 has a huge number of technological achievements and a lot to live up to in regards to expectations.

  1. The Cell Processor - this is the heart of the Playstation 3 and in a lot of ways a very new generation and direction for Sony to go in. The Cell was developed by IBM with Toshiba and Sony providing funding (approaching $400 million) and technical requirements. The Cell is a totally new direction for computer processors because it is a 9 core processor that runs as a single fully integrated system within itself. with one core being the primary and distributing the load between the other 8 cores. The Cell's full name is Cell Broadband Engine Architecture - and combines a PowerPC base upon with 9 parallel-processing cores are placed. All designed to run as a single unit with distributed functions - so the main core can send information to all the other cores for processing, then hand the result back to the system bus at speeds between 3-12 times that of a similar non-Cell processor such as an Itanium or Opteron. The Cell has been tapped to be the main processor in IBM's new supercomputer, codenamed Roadrunner, that is expected to exceed one Petaflop or 1,000,000,000,000,000 Floating Point Operations per Second.
  2. Blu-Ray DVD player - A new technology DVD player that can read 50gb CD style discs. this is one of two competing DVD technologies, the other being HD-DVD. Playstation 3 is the first console to include Blu-Ray DVD functionality in the console itself for DVD playback.
  3. An upgradable Hard drive - The PS3 will ship with either a 20gb or 60gb hard drive installed, and from what has been reported, that device is upgradable to larger sizes as they become available
  4. HDMI port - A High-Definition Media Interface port is standard with the PS3 and allows it to be connected to new format television sets to allow for video and audio playback at much higher qualities than standard Composite video or Coax signal input. HDMI is all digital, providing for a very clean and crisp multi-channel signal.
  5. Bluetooth controllers - All PS3 Bluetooth controllers shipped are designed to be fully cordless. There is a usb port for recharging the internal batteries, and with Bluetooth up to 7 controllers can be used with one game.
  6. Wifi access - The PS3 has WiFi access and will allow for 802.11 wireless networking as well as wireless controllers to be used with the console.
  7. Memory card readers - The PS3 will have a flash memory card reader compatible with Memory Stick, CompactFlash, and SD/MMC flash memory.
  8. Software base - One of the innovative developments is the inclusion of an Open Source Development suite running on Linux - which appears to be the underlying OS for the Playstation 3. Not only does this mean independent developers can write code for the Playstation 3, but it means anybody can modify some of the Playstation OS to perform tasks; such as the Folding @ Home project from Stanford University, which will be available as a download to run when the PS3 is idle to take advantage of the processing power of the Cell.

One rumor that has not been substantiated is the Link Cable. It has been said that the PS3 will have an accessory called a link cable that will be similar to a SCSI cable in that multiple PS3's can be chained together in series. If this is correct it would enable a user to purchase multiple PlayStation 3's and use them as a massively parallel computer for gaming or software development, such as 3D rendering or large scale math calculations. If correct, that would be very cool and would bring the abilities of a supercomputer into the homes of millions of players.

The Playstation 3 looks to be a huge success, IF Sony can bring it to bear before the Christmas season. One more delay could spell the end of Sony as a major player in the Game Industry because of the dominance of the Xbox and the Nintendo Wii. Let's hope Sony can deliver on it's assurance of PlayStation 3 before Christmas 2006 - it will be a sight to behold.

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