Sony reveal the Playstation 3

In a pre-conference media and press session at the E3 conference, Sony unveiled the long awaited Playstation 3, based on the new Cell processor jointly developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba.

From the information available in various blogs and game sites, the information released seems to be a confirmation of the hardware specs that have been known since earlier this year, plus a couple of glipses at some promo videos for upcoming games. If the photos on this site are to believed, the ingame graphics are going to be absolutely incredible. A video of an offroad car/bike racing game called Motor Storm was previewed, and the graphics look close to a real movie.

IGN.com have videos of the tech demos from Sony’s press session, and the real time rendering of fluids, motion and acurate physics look pretty stunning. I’m not sure if a demo of a bath full of plastic ducks was the best suited material to demonstrate the capabilities of a new gaming platform, but when he kept adding more and more ducks until the bath was overflowing with hundereds of ducks, and each was still being rendered in realtime and bobbing along each doing their own thing, I think it did make the point that the Cell processor really does have some power behind it.

IGN.com also have a video of a London street scene demo that is absolutely jawdropping in its level of shading and detail. As the camera pans around, people are walking (rather robotic looking, mind you) in the street and cars are driving by. The camera pans over the buildings on the street, and what I think really makes it amazing is the level of detail in the light shading – the shadows and light levels are realistically rendered according to the location of the sun, and different angles and locations are all lit very realistically according to the light source. This must be seen to be believed… it is pretty incredible.

One of the big surprises this week is the fact that Microsoft have taken a departure from the ‘cheap PC in a black box running a cutdown version of Windows’ approach for their new XBox360 console, and have also based their new console on IBM PowerPC CPU technology with multiple cores. The Cell/PowerPC chip in the Playstation 3 however has 8 processor cores, while the version PowerPC chip in the new XBox only has 3, and runs at a comparable 3.2GHz. The PS3 however is capable or performing over 2 terraFLOPS/sec, while the XBox performs jsut 1 terraFLOP/sec.

How much difference in reality will this make? Time will tell I guess. The XBox360 is due to be on the shelves in time for Christmas 2005, while we’ll still have to wait until Spring 2006 for the Playstation 3.

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