PS3: The Essential Guide

Everything there is to know so far about Sony's next gen console. Which is quite a lot!

So the PlayStation 3 was meant to be a long way behind the Xbox 360. Well it appears Microsoft did cause a few stirs when it unveiled its next generation console last week, because Sony has come fighting right back.

You can read all about the Xbox 360 with our definitive guide here, but today is all about the PS3. The machine was unveiled yesterday in California at E3 (the world’s largest entertainment exhibition) and boy it’s a doozy.

The first glimpse of the console alone caused shockwaves. Its swish curved exterior and cut away front panel give it a very different look to the original PS2 and, for that matter, a different stylistic approach to that of the Xbox 360. While last week’s new boy is far more cartoonish, the PS3 is minimalist. It’s like Denon verses Aiwa, Porsche verses Hummer. The PS3 also chooses to ignore the 360’s swappable front panels in favour of three classic electronics colour choices: white, silver or black.

Moving onto the business side of things, there was one word on everyone’s lips: ”Cell”. First announced in February, the Cell Processor was jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba and promised a quantum leap in multi-core computing. Well, we might just have it. Like the three PowerPC cores in the Xbox 360, the Cell processor will also run at 3.2GHz but it boasts performance of an incredible 2.18 teraflops. That’s TWICE Microsoft’s claims for the 360.

Backing it up is 256MB of XDR RAM which runs alongside 256MB of dedicated GDDR 700MHz VRAM. Graphics are courtesy of nVidia which has developed a chip called the RSX Reality Synthesizer that the company brags has more rendering horsepower than two GeForce 6800 chipsets combined (but LE, Standard, GT or Ultra?).

Microsoft wouldn’t say how much quicker the 360 is than the original Xbox, calling them “incomparable”, but Sony was more than happy to compare old with new. A PS3 is 35 times faster than a PS2 apparently… (drool).

Yet power is nothing without image quality and the Xbox 360 made major headlines with the news that it will support 720p and 1080i high definition natively. Well, Sony goes one better with 1080p (the pinnacle of high definition signal formats to date) standard on all games. Of course this comes in handy when your drive is Blu-ray…

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