Sony’s PlayStation 3 announcement upped the ante in the computer gaming and music world earlier today with the news that the system will support Super Audio CD and Dual Disc playback along with a host of gaming, computer and High Definition TV features.
The announcement of the new product was held in Los Angeles, the site of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (also known as E3) where prototypes of the Playstation 3 (P3) will be shown. According to officials at Sony Computer Entertainment America, the computer game division of Sony, the Playstation 3 is slated for release in Spring 2006.
Playstation 3 Includes Extensive Computing Power
The PSP3 will feature the new Cell processor running at 3.2GHz. The Cell processor was developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba and is based on the PowerPC processor now featured in Apple Macintosh computer products. It is said to provide the P3 system with 218 GFlops in floating point performance.
The PSP3 also includes an RSX Graphics coprocessor running at 550MHz developed by NVDIA and SCEI which offers 1.8 TFLOPS in floating point performance and XDR memory developed by Rambus.
Sony says that “With an overwhelming computing power of 2 teraflops, entirely new graphical expressions that have never been seen before will become possible. In games, not only will movement of characters and objects be far more refined and realistic, but landscapes and virtual worlds can also be rendered in real-time, thereby elevating the freedom of graphics expression to levels not experienced in the past. Gamers will literally be able to dive into the realistic world seen in large screen movies and experience the excitement in real-time.”
CD, DVD Video, SACD, Dual Disc and Blu-Ray Disc Playback
Turning to optical disc playback, the PSP3 will feature CD, DVD and Blu-Ray Disc drives that will offer a dizzying array of optical disc playback options.
Included in the list are not only backward compatibility with Playstation 1 and 2 CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs and CD-R and DVD Video discs. The PSP3 also includes the playback of CD, Super Audio CD (SACD) and Dual Disc recordings including the support of “Dolby 5.1 Channel, DTS, LPCM, etc.” sound.
Sony officials confirmed that the PlayStation 3 will support Direct Stream Digital (DSD) playback. The PSP3 will play both the CD Audio layer and the SACD Audio layer (both SACD Stereo and SACD Surround Sound tracks) on Super Audio CD discs. In response to a question about the reference to SACD “HD” in the product announcement, Sony officials explained that this was a reference to SACD’s “High Definition” audio capabilities which in the past had been referred to as High Resolution audio.
The Dual Disc support is of particular note since this is the first time that an optical disc player maker has specifically included Dual Disc playback of both the audio and DVD sides of the Dual Disc in such a product. And it comes from one of the 13 companies (Sony Computer Entertainment America) that had previously issued a Dual Disc advisory. We’ll see if this is the start of a trend where more optical disc player makers begin to issue Dual Disc logo’d players in year ahead.
The PSP3 system capabilities include the following playback options:
PlayStation CD-ROM, PlayStation 2 CD-ROM
CD-DA (ROM), CD-R, CD-RW
Super Audio CD (SACD)
SACD Hybrid (CD Audio layer), SACD HD (SACD layer – SACD Stereo & SACD Surround Sound)
DualDisc (Audio side), DualDisc (DVD side)
PlayStation 2 DVD-ROM, PlayStation 3 DVD-ROM
DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW
Playstation 3 Blu-Ray Disc
PlayStation 3 BD-ROM
Blu-Ray Disc Video
BD-Video, BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-RE
Computer and HDTV Features
In addition to the optical disc and music features, the PSP3 also has a host of computing and High Defintion TV features as well.
The PSP3 will include a detachable 2.5″ Hard Disk Drive slot, 6 USB I/O connectors, connections for Memory Stick, SD Memory and Compact Flash Memory, 1 Ethernet Input and 2 Ethernet Outputs at 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T, 802.11 b/g WiFi Wireless and support for up to 7 Bluetooth controllers.
On the video side of things, the system will support video playback at 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p with 2 HDMI outputs.
A Full Featured System
Sony says that the Playstation 3 “is a new portable entertainment system that allows users to enjoy 3D games, with high-quality full-motion video, and high-fidelity stereo audio.”
Based on the initial specifications in the product announcement, I’d say it has the potential to have an even bigger impact on the market. This will be a product development worth watching in the months ahead – from the gaming, computer, music and HDTV markets.