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Sony ponders PlayStation Portable spec change

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A presentation from the SCEE Technology Group has revealed further details of how the PlayStation Portable will work, but developers claim that Sony is considering changing the spec of the device to add more memory.

The presentation gave developers an introduction to the PSP concept and hardware, explaining the specifications and inner workings of the system to prospective game creators.

However, the apparently "final" spec of the PSP, as announced earlier this year, may now be in question, with development sources in teams working on early software for the handheld device indicating that Sony may be planning to increase the amount of memory in the system.

While the PSP compares very favourably to the PS2 in terms of processing and graphics power, several developers have expressed worries over the system's 8MB of main system RAM - only a quarter of that available to PS2 games. Now it appears that Sony may be considering addressing their concerns by adding extra RAM to the PSP specification.

"The PSP is a much more impressive console than we'd expected, but the amount of RAM is definitely causing us headaches, even in these early planning stages," one developer working on a project at a large Japanese studio explained. "If they don't change the amount, I'm sure we'll find ways around it - by streaming more data off the disc maybe - there are always other ways to try. But it would definitely make developing much easier if there were just a few more megabytes available."

If a decision has not yet been made about the amount of RAM the device will have, this could help to explain why developers have not yet seen physical development kits for the PSP - and even large studios which generally get preferred treatment from Sony are left working with PC emulation kits.

"The emulation stuff is fine for basic tool and engine development," according to a source at a UK development studio, "since the whole system is based on standard libraries and our access to the underlying hardware is restricted. It's tougher on the designers though - it's quite a challenge designing games for hardware you've never seen."

Sony has apparently given no date to developers regarding when they can expect to see PSP hardware, but development on early titles is already well underway at several studios using the PC emulation kits. The first public showing of the PSP is set for May of next year, at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2003, GamesIndustry.biz

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