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Long live the PSone – Sony exec

Destined to get even more portable

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There's life in the old PlayStation - a lot of life, according to comments made by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) chief Ken Kutaragi yesterday.

"The PSone market will show further development from now on," he said, according to EE Times. "Stereo systems metamorphosed into [portable] radio cassette recorders and penetrated worldwide. PSone has not reached the radio cassette level yet — it does not operate with batteries nor does it have an LCD display. But PSone is heading in this direction, which brings a possibility of explosive growth."

That seems at odds with comments from SCE senior director Kenichi Fukunaga, who separately told Reuters that the company was not developing a portable games device. He said that the development of machines like Nintendo's GameBoy Advance were prohibitively expensive - especially when cellphones can do it all much more cheaply.

"Making portable devices would mean having to compete directly with mobile phones," he said. "We couldn't offer devices with the same capabilities and price."

However, both executives' comments aren't mutually exclusive. Kutaragi is clearly saying that the original PlayStation format isn't going away, contrary to the console business' tradition of retiring systems when sales of the next major release begin to kick in.

Kutaragi's came after Sony signed Toshiba to produce of a new PSone graphics chip with 1MB of embedded memory. The contract was to have gone to Fujitsu, but Toshiba won the day because it can run the chip at 0.13 micron. Fujitsu was to have used a larger, 0.18 micron process.

The smaller the process, the more chips a plant can punch out and, ultimately, the cheaper the PSone becomes. It also allows Toshiba to fine tune the process it will soon be using to punch out Emotion Engine CPUs and upgraded Graphics Synthesiser chips, both key PlayStation 2 components.

Said Kutaragi: "We'll apply the process to as many Playstation [parts] as possible. Eventually we'll use the process for... PS2 as well." ®

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