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The PlayStation 3 (Japanese: プレイステーション 3 (Pureisuteeshon Surii), trademarked PLAYSTATION®3, commonly abbreviated PS3?) is Sony's seventh generation era video game console, third in the PlayStation series. It is the successor to PlayStation and PlayStation 2 and competes primarily against Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.
The PS3 was released on November 11, 2006 in Japan and on November 17, 2006 in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is expected to be released in March, 2007 in Europe and Australia. It is available in two initial configurations.
Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the public on May 16, 2005 during an E3 conference. A functional version of the console was not present at E3 2005 nor the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005, although at both events demonstrations were held on devkits (e.g. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) and comparable PC hardware, and video footage based on the predicted PS3 specifications was also shown (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam). It was not until E3 2006 that games were shown on actual PlayStation 3 systems. At E3 2005, Sony claimed the PlayStation 3 would have two HDMI and three Ethernet ports, which were later reduced to one of each; the memory speed of GPU was reduced from 700Mhz to 650Mhz, the network ports cut from 3 to 1; the USB ports cut from 6 to 4; and the support to games running at 120 FPS (frames-per-second) is nowhere to be found. The reductions in the numbers of HDMI and Ethernet ports were most likely done to cut costs. In preparation for launch, Sony demonstrated 27 playable PS3 titles during the Tokyo Game Show in September 2006 on final hardware.
The basic configuration of the console has a 20 GB internal hard drive. The "premium" version of the PlayStation 3 comes with an internal 60 GB 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive, IEEE 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple flash memory card readers (SD, CompactFlash, Memory Stick), and features a chrome-colored trim. Both consoles now feature a silver-colored text logo on the top face of the system. The hard drive is upgradeable, using the standard Serial ATA interface. No official Wi-Fi or flash memory card adapters have yet been released by Sony, although plans for such add-ons are in place. Nevertheless, as both models feature four USB 2.0 ports, wireless networking and flash memory card support can already be obtained through the use of widely available external USB adapters. No high-definition video cables (neither component nor HDMI) are included; instead, a composite video/stereo audio cable ships with the system.
Release data and pricing
† Price not confirmed as official suggested retail price
The PlayStation 3 was released in Japan on November 11, 2006 at 07:00. There were reports that many of the initial consoles were obtained by businessmen who paid mainly Chinese nationals to buy the console without any software to resell on eBay. According to Media Create, 81,639 PS3 systems were sold in the 24-hours of its introduction in Japan. Sony has opted to go with an open pricing scheme for the 60 GB model, allowing retailers to set a price point themselves.
The PlayStation 3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. During its first week of release in the United States, PlayStation 3s were being sold on eBay for more than $2300 USD. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot, campers robbed at gunpoint, customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns, and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems. In California, two GameStop employees fabricated a robbery to cover up their own theft of several PlayStation 3 and four Xbox 360 consoles.
Sony announced on September 6, 2006 that the PAL (European and Australasia) launch has been delayed until March, 2007 due to a shortage of diodes used in the Blu-ray drive. David Wilson, Head of Public Relations at Sony Computer Entertainment UK, stated that both models will likely be sold in the UK market, but may not be available at launch.
The production cost is estimated to be US$805.85 for the 20GB model and US$840.35 for the 60GB model.
In what could be its first big advertising campaign, the PlayStation 3 was featured in the advertising boards of 16 stadiums across Europe, during the Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Group Stage, on September 12, 2006 and September 13, 2006. However, on the other matchdays the advertising has been replaced by a PSP, perhaps as a result of the system's launch delay. Television advertisements also began airing in the United States, carrying the slogan "PLAY B3YOND - l l l 7." The 3 that replaces the E in "BEYOND" (an example of leet) hearkens back to the launch slogan of the PlayStation: "u r not e".
Three ads have aired for the console, playing up the high anticipation but, for the most part, not showcasing actual games. One simply featured a baby doll staring at the PS3 and making gestures and sounds. Another had the PS3, in the same white-walled setting, sitting across from a Rubik's cube which suddenly levitated, solved itself, and exploded into colors on the four walls. The third ad used the same white backdrop and, unlike the other two ads, portrayed the motion-sensing controller by showing eggs rolling across the floor. There were also two ads between one and two minutes long, which used the same backdrop as the others, focusing on the capabilities of the Cell microprocessor and the Blu-ray disc.
The PlayStation 3 launched with 15 titles by November 17, 2006. After 5 days, Resistance: Fall of Man had sold the most units. Several planned launch titles were delayed, such as F.E.A.R. and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Later this year a major announcement was made by Sega regarding Virtua Fighter 5, that it would be no longer exclusive to PlayStation 3. All PlayStation 3 games are region-free.
Sony stated every PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game that observes its respective system's TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) will be playable on PS3 at launch. SCE president Ken Kutaragi asked developers to adhere to the TRC to facilitate compatibility with future PlayStations, stating that the company was having some difficulty getting backward compatibility with games that had not followed the TRCs. It has been confirmed (image) that initial PS3 units include the CPU/rasterizer combination chip used in slim PS2 (EE+GS) to achieve backward compatibility.
The PlayStation 3 does not include interfaces for legacy PlayStation devices, though IGN.com tested a legacy controller using a PS2-to-USB adapter, finding that it is compatible, though most other devices (such as the Guitar Hero controller) may not be compatible. USB devices for PlayStation 2 may be compatible with PlayStation 3. The PS3 supports both the USB Eye Toy camera/webcam and SOCOM Headset for video and voice chat. A memory card adapter is available so users can save their PS/PS2 data on to a virtual memory card in the hard drive. The PlayStation 3 can also use Memory Sticks to store save data for PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software.
At least 3% of the games from the previous generations of the PlayStation had problems at launch such as dropped audio, freezes or controller malfunction. Popular games reported to have this glitch include Final Fantasy, Tekken 5, and Gran Turismo. As of 2006-11-16, a firmware upgrade has been posted online by Sony that is intended to address some of these issues.
In addition, the backward compatibility function is not region-free and as of this moment there are no known homebrew hacks/patches to solve this issue.
The PlayStation 3 is based on open and publicly available application programming interfaces. Despite earlier rumours of programming being difficult, IGN reports that they were told that the dev kit "seemed extremely adaptive and easy to program for". Sony has selected several technologies and arranged several sublicensing agreements to create an advanced software development kit for developers. In addition, in 2005 Sony purchased SN Systems, a former provider of Microsoft Windows-based development tools for a variety of console platforms; including PlayStation 2, GameCube, PSP and Nintendo DS to create additional GNU development tools.
Open standards for OpenGL, matrix algorithms, and scene data are specified by the Khronos Group, and are intended to work with nVidia's Cg programming language. Scene data are stored with COLLADA v1.4, an open, XML-based file format. Rendering uses PSGL, a modified version of OpenGL ES 1.0 (OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant except for the use of Cg instead of GLSL), with extensions specifically aimed at the PS3. Other specifications include OpenMAX, a collection of fast, cross-platform tools for general "media acceleration," such as matrix calculations, and OpenVG, for hardware-accelerated 2D vector graphics. These specifications have GPL, free for any use, and/or commercial implementations by third parties.
Sublicensed technology includes complete game engines, physics libraries, and special libraries. Engines include Epic's Unreal engine 3.0. Physics libraries include AGEIA's PhysX SDK, NovodeX, and Havok's physics and animation engines. Other tools include Nvidia's Cg 1.5 (a C-like shading language, which HLSL was based upon), SpeedTree RT by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (high-quality virtual foliage in real time), and Kynogon's Kynapse 4.0 "large scale A.I.".
Sony has considered using IPv6, the next generation of the Internet Protocol.
Similar to the PlayStation Portable, Sony has added the ability for firmware updates to be downloaded and used on the PlayStation 3. The updates can be installed via System Update, HDD, or a Game that requires a firmware update.
The latest version of firmware for the Japanese and US Playstation 3 is version 1.32, released December 21, 2006.
A major update of the PS3 firmware is planned for March 2007, to coincide with the planned European launch. This update will feature the following enhancements:
- Enhanced XMB multi-tasking capabilities.
- Additional photo album features.
- Auto-resume for downloads from the PlayStation Store
- Additional XMB display options.
- Additional Remote Play functionality.
Graphical user interface
The PlayStation 3 version of the Cross Media Bar (Xross Media Bar, or XMB) includes 8 categories of options. These include: Users, Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, Network and Friends. The PS3 includes the ability to store different user profiles, explore photos, play music and movies from the hard drive, compatibility for a USB Keyboard and Mouse, a full Internet browser and a Friends menu. Also, the PlayStation 3 adds the ability to multitask in ways such as listening to music while surfing the web or looking at pictures. The PlayStation 3 XMB supports a variety of file formats (audio, image, video), with additional file formats under Linux. In a separate demo Sony presented the "Marketplace" where users can buy and download music. The PS3 reserves 64 MB RAM at all times for XMB functions.
The PlayStation 3's default background color changes depending on the current month of the year, as follows:
- January – Yellow
- February – Light Green
- March – Pink
- April – Dark Green
- May – Purple
- June – Aqua
- July – Blue
- August – Violet
- September – Gold
- October – Light Brown
- November – Red
- December – Silver
In addition to changing colors with the month, the PlayStation 3 also changes brightness settings depending on the time of day.
Q-Games Ltd, a small development company based in Kyoto, Japan, developed the graphics technology behind the XMB, its stylized background, and the built-in music visualizers. The PlayStation 3 uses a version of the NetFront browser by Access Co. as its internal web browser. It is the same browser used in the PSP (Sony-branded NetFront 2.81) with the same interface, menus and virtual keyboard. Its user agent string is cloaked, falsely reporting as Mozilla/5.0 (PLAYSTATION 3; 1.00). Sony has also worked with Stanford University to bring the Folding@home project to the PS3. When downloaded, the program will run when the system is idle.
Originally Sony stated that they were going to pre-install Linux on the PS3's hard drive, but current units shipping do not include Linux pre-installed. Instead, Sony has made an option in the XMB menu to install other operating systems.
Fedora Core 5 and Gentoo have been run on the PS3; however, Fedora Core 5 has not been optimized for the relatively low amount of RAM. The Sony-sponsored Yellow Dog Linux for the PS3 was released on November 27, 2006 to the YDL.net community, and was released on DVD on December 11, 2006, and finally as a publicly available image in late December.
Because we have plans for having Linux on board [the PS3], we also recognize Linux programming activities… Other than game studios tied to official developer licenses, we'd like to see various individuals participate in content creation for the PS3.
—Izumi Kawanishi, on the presence of the Linux in the PS3.
In response to Microsoft's successful Xbox Live network, Sony announced a unified online service for the PlayStation 3 console at the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing meeting in Tokyo. Sony has confirmed that the service will be always connected, free and include multiplayer support. However, developers are permitted to charge a subscription fee, as is common with MMO games.
The Xfire client can be integrated into games to provide various match-making facilities, at a cost to the publisher.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 21, 2006 it was revealed that users will be able to download some of the thousands of PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 titles from the PlayStation Network for about $5 to $15, starting with those with the smallest game data. The reason to allow this kind of functionality is that Sony wants to allow the users to choose the games of their preference. Ken Kutaragi also announced functionality with other consoles, similar to Nintendo's Virtual Console, including confirmed Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx 16 functionality. However, Sega has replied that Sony has been too hasty with calling it a fact. Sega is currently reviewing the possibilities, but have not yet made a decision on it.
The registration interface can only be accessed through the PS3 system interface. The input method for the system is a T9 "dial pad" system (similar to writing a text message on a mobile phone) that will predict words as you type them. This is the only method of input available out of the box (i.e. without a compatible USB keyboard). One major drawback of this method is the tedious nature of inputing non standard words such as for email addresses, street/city names, passwords, etc. The predictive text also does not predict any capitalized word causing users that want to make use of this feature to input all words in lowercase and then go back and capitalize the first letter (if needed).
PlayStation Portable connectivity
The PlayStation Portable can connect with the PlayStation 3 in many ways, including game connectivity, such as Formula One 06 shown at E3 2006 which uses the PSP as a rear-view mirror. Sony also will allow the PlayStation 3 to send PlayStation 1 games to the PSP that will be able to be used on the PSP's PlayStation 1 Emulator, which will be released alongside the PS3.
Sony has also demonstrated the PSP playing back video content, including 1080p content from the PlayStation 3 hard disk across an Ad-Hoc wireless network. This feature is referred to as Remote Play.
Unless otherwise noted, the following specifications are based on a press release by Sony at the 2005 E3 Conference, and slides from a Sony presentation at the 2006 Game Developer's Conference.
The PS3's 3.2 GHz Cell processor, developed jointly by Sony, Toshiba and IBM ("STI"), is an implementation to dynamically assign physical processor cores to do different types of work independently. It has a PowerPC-based "Power Processing Element" (PPE) and six accessible 3.2 GHz Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs), a seventh runs in a special mode and is dedicated to OS security, and an eighth disabled to improve production yields. The PPE, SPE's and other elements ("units") are connected via an Element Interconnect Bus which serves to connect all of the units in a ring-style bus. The PPE has a 512 KiB level 2 cache and one VMX vector unit. Each SPE is a RISC processor with 128 128-bit SIMD GPRs and superscalar functions. Each SPE contains 256 KiB of non-cached memory (local storage, "LS") that is shared by program code and work data. SPEs may access more data in the main memory using DMA. The floating point performance of the whole system (CPU + GPU) is reported to be 2 TFLOPS. PlayStation 3's Cell CPU achieves 204 GFLOPS single precision float and 15 GFLOPS double precision. The PS3 will ship with 256 MiB of Rambus XDR DRAM, clocked at CPU die speed.
The Cell microprocessor allows programmers to assign SPE's different work by running individual programs on them. Programmers may also arrange data flow in different ways, for example using parallel, pipelined or streamed processing data flow models. As an example for parallel processing performance gains, one core could work on decoding and multiplexing audio, another core may perform computations on realistic projectiles ballistics, while another might govern the activities of the main character. The programmer still has three more cores not yet assigned but the only remaining tasks are to collect the work performed and display the results on the screen. Since the program code on each SPE core is executed from its local store memory, much more Element Interconnect Bus bandwidth is available to transfers of work data. An obvious downside to this is that there is a 256 KiB size restriction on SPE programs, which may present a challenge for certain programming tasks.
The Graphics Processing Unit is based on the NVIDIA G70 (previously known as NV47) architecture, which focuses on maximizing per-pixel computation in favor of raw pixel output. The GPU will make use of 256 MiB GDDR3 VRAM clocked at 700 MHz. The GPU has access to the XDR main memory as well.
The PS3 supports standard and HDTV resolutions (up to 1080p60) and connectivity options (such as HDMI 1.3  and component video). In terms of audio, the PS3 will support a number of formats, including 7.1 digital audio, Dolby TrueHD, and others. For the optical drive, a wide variety of DVD and CD formats are supported, as well as Blu-ray Disc. A 20 GB / 60 GB 2.5" SATA 150 hard disk is pre-installed. In the 60 GB configuration, flash memory can also be used — either Memory Stick, CompactFlash, or SD/MMC. For communication, the PS3 will have one gigabit ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, and will support Bluetooth 2.0 EDR.
The console has many ventilation holes, a single large fan, and uses heat pipes; Sony claims the system is as quiet as a PlayStation 2 SCPH-70000 series. Physically, the PlayStation 3 is approximately 5 kg (11 lb), 9.8 cm × 32.5 cm × 27.4 cm (3.9 in. × 12.8 in. × 10.8 in.). The power supply is built into the console and a standard 3-pin IEC connector is present at the base of the console; all current PS3 power supplies are Universal 100V-240V 50-60hz and work worldwide, external power markings relate to the intended market area. The power consumption ranges from 150-200 watts during normal use .
The PS3 SIXAXIS is a controller that is nearly identical to that of the predecessor's DualShock. The SIXAXIS features finer analogue sensitivity, more trigger-like R2 and L2 buttons, a PS button, and a USB mini-B port for charging the internal battery and use for wired play. The PlayStation 3 supports up to 7 simultaneous controllers over Bluetooth. The SIXAXIS is named for its ability to detect motion in the full six degrees. However, unlike the previous DualShock, the new controller has no vibration feature. The controller will retail for US$50.
The PlayStation 3 Memory Card Adaptor is a device that allows data to be transferred to and from PlayStation and PlayStation 2 memory cards and to the PlayStation 3's hard disk. The device is a cable that connects to the PS3's USB port on one end, and features a legacy PlayStation 2 memory card port on the other end. The adaptor will be available for purchase simultaneously with the console's launch, at a price of JP¥1500 (including tax) in Japan, and US$14.99 in the United States.
Using Bluetooth, the PlayStation 3 BD Remote allows users to easily control videos and music on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. In Japan, the device was available starting December 7, 2006, and will cost JP¥3,800. The device is also currently available in North America for US$24.99. However, the PS3 will accept signals only via its Bluetooth Remote, as the console does not have an infrared receiver, preventing the use of universal remotes with the system. The Blu-ray Disc movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was included with the initial 400,000 release copies of the PS3 in North America.
Official PS3 HDMI cables retail for US$60. No HDMI cable is included with the PS3 system. An official component AV cable will be available soon for US$19.99.
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Official sites PlayStation 3 home pages for English language countries
- Official US PlayStation 3 Site
- Official Australian PS3 site
- Official European PlayStation 3 Site
- Official UK PlayStation 3 site
- Official Hong Kong PlayStation 3 site
PlayStation 3 auxiliary sites by Sony
- PlayStation 3 Hardware Press Images
- Sony Computer Entertainment HQ (English)
- PlayStation Products Page
- PS3 features and promotion site
- PlayStation 3 User's Guide
- Open Platform for PlayStation 3
- IGN.com - PlayStation 3 Coverage
- Gamespot.com - PlayStation 3 Coverage