We're going to have to wait until nearly the end of this year before any of us can get our hands on Sony's PlayStation Three. But in the meantime, we have specs and images and reports from the E3 conference. What do we have to look forward to? Dan Wellman examines the evidence.
With the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 console set for November of this year, speculation and misinformation on the specifications is running rife. So what exactly can we expect from the most anticipated next-generation console, and how well does it compare to its main rival, Microsoft's Xbox 360? Of course, the Nintendo Wii will also be a rival contending for market share and is due to be released at about the same time, but specifications are difficult to pin down at this point in time for the Wii, and it's hard and perhaps a little unfair to compare two products without knowing the full details of both.
First off then, the brains of the PlayStation 3. The system is designed around an entirely new type of microprocessor known as the Cell processor. It has been jointly developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba over the course of the last four years, initially for use specifically in the PlayStation Three. The architecture in use in the Cell is like nothing seen before in even a personal computer, let alone a games console, and has been reported to be up to 10 times faster than conventional processors.
The Xbox 360 processor is also a custom built CPU, and like the Cell is PowerPC based. It has three symmetrical cores, each running at 3.2GHz. While the Cell has just one core, running at 3.2GHZ, it also has seven additional Synergistic Processor Elements, which act as independent processors. Each of these will run at 3.2GHz too. Each of these SPE's will also have built in RAM support with 256Kb of SRAM.
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