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Acer to bring PlayStation games to DVD players

300MHz Risc CPU, embedded OS and emulator combo in development

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Taiwan's Acer Labs is working on processor, chipset and software combo that will allow DVD players to run PC and Sony PlayStation games.

Acer's new chip is a Risc processor, designed in partnership with an unnamed developer, and is slated to operate at around 300MHz. It will power an Acer-developed embedded OS which will host game emulation code, also created by Acer.

Sony, of course, is well known to be opposed to PlayStation emulation - witness the legal assaults it has ranged against emulator developers Bleem! and Connectix - and unless Acer has pulled off some kind of licensing deal, expect the Japanese giant to take a very close interest in the announcement.

Much depends on whether the Acer technology will emulate the PlayStation or the PlayStation 2. Sony has said it is interested in talking to companies who want to licence PS 2 technology, but it seems unlikely that this is what Acer is planning. Sony's licensing plan - such as it is - is primarily about selling more Emotion Engine CPUs, and there's no sign that that chip forms part of Acer's technology.

If it is PlayStation emulation, Acer is on a pretty sticky wicket, you'd have thought. We assume Acer is smart enough to realise this, which is why it's aiming the technology at Chinese DVD manufacturers. China, we recall, is less than zealous in its protection of intellectual property rights, so Sony is going to have a hard time stopping Acer.

Chinese OEMs are ramping up production in a bid to supply the bulk of the growing US and European player markets. Some 5-10 million machine will be produced next year, analysts reckon. Again, Sony isn't going to be too happy if the West is flooded with PlayStation-compatible low-end DVD players.

Of course, with PlayStation 2 mere days away from its US debut and just over a month from its European launch, interest in the original platform is set to wane, for all Sony's attempts to mine the market with the PSOne. If PlayStation 2 sale ramp up sufficiently quickly, Sony might even - and it's a long shot, we admit - be willing to let the PlayStation business go, relying on what it makes from the sale of games.

That would please Connectix, since such a move by Sony would back the emulation software developer's claim that its code isn't cannibalising the PlayStation games market, but creating a new audience for Sony and its partners' software. ®

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