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Sony details PlayStation 3

Twice the performance of Xbox 360, apparently

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Yes, the third-generation PlayStation console will indeed be called the PlayStation 3, Sony admitted last night when it unwrapped its answer to Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Revolution.

Sony PlayStation 3That the PS3 would use a PowerPC-based Cell processor was already well known, but Sony yesterday revealed the chip would be clocked at 3.2GHz - matching Xbox 360's PowerPC-based three-core chip - enough to yield 2.18 teraflops, the company claimed - twice what Xbox 360 will be able to pump out, apparently. There's 512KB of on-die L2 cache, and seven AltiVec vector processing units.

IBM can now rightfully claim PowerPC technology is powering every single next-generation console, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, differences exist between the CPUs in the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution. It'll also be interesting to see how Apple leverages that fact to promote its own PowerPC-based Macs.

The PS3's CPU is backed by Nvidia's graphics chip, dubbed in this application the RSX, for "reality simulator". RSX connects directly to the CPU, with which it shares access to the PS3's 512MB of system RAM. The memory is split into two banks: 256MB of XDR clocked at 3.2GHz for the CPU's usage and 256MB of 700MHz GDDR 3 SDRAM for the RSX.

RSX was said to be twice as powerful as two Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra chips, a claim also made for Nvidia' next-generation GPU, the 'G70'. That suggests that G70 and RSX are essentially the same beast. Either way, RSX will support HDTV-resolution graphics up to 1080p. The CPU will handle the audio processing, in Dolby 5.1 with DTS.

Sony said again PS3 will use the Blu-ray Disc format, shipping with a drive that can handle BD-ROM, video BDs and PS3's own BD format, along with all the DVD-RW/+RW media, plus Super Audio CD.

The console also sports a Gigabit Ethernet port, SP/DIF digital audio output, twin independent HDMI ports, six USB 2.0 ports, plus SD, CompactFlash and Memory Stick Duo slots - a sign that Sony is now serious about no long inflicting only its own technologies on users.

Sony PlayStation 3

Like the Xbox 360, the PS3's internal 2.5in hard drive is removable. And like the Microsoft box, the new Sony machine uses Bluetooth-based wireless controllers. There's 802.11b/g Wi-Fi on board too.

And when will all this ship? Spring 2006, said Sony, as anticpated - and right when Microsoft will launch Halo 3 for Xbox 360 as a spoiler. ®

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