March 12, 2007 - Anyone who visits this particular corner of IGN obviously wants to know about the PlayStation 3, and what better place is there to start than here? We've assembled this PS3 FAQ so that you have a one-stop source for the powerhouse system's most important information. Enjoy!
What is the system's official name?
When was the system officially unveiled?
Sony officially revealed the PlayStation 3 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo during its press conference on May 16th, 2005. The system and a prototype controller were shown along with various tech demos and game trailers, though most of the trailers were CG "approximations" of what developers were aiming their gameplay experiences to be like.
When is the system launching?
The system launches in Australia and Europe on the 23rd of March, 2007.
How much will the PlayStation 3 cost, and what configurations will be available?
Australia will only be getting access to the high end PS3 with 60GB drive. This has a recommended retail price of AU$999.95 - shop around and we're sure you'll save a buck or two. Many retailers are offering free HDMI cables for pre-orders of the system.
What does the PlayStation 3 look like?
What ports and external connections does the PlayStation 3 have?
You'll find four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the system. On the back there are connectors for gigabit Ethernet, an optical audio output, HDMI output and an AV multi-out (which appears to be exactly the same as on the PS2). It also includes inputs for Memory Stick, SD and Compact Flash cards inside a flip-up door on the front.
What happened to the dual-HDMI ports and three gigabit Ethernet connections that Sony hyped at E3 2005?
Scratched! Dual-HDMI would be cool, but very, very few people would likely ever be able to use it, and most people never understood the triple-set of gigabit Ethernet ports to begin with, so as these were likely to be the least-used features, Sony cut them for cost reasons.
How is the SIXAXIS controller different from the PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller?
Its layout looks virtually identical to the Dual Shock 2, but there are some major differences. First, the SIXAXIS is wireless (via Bluetooth 2.0 technology) and the system will be able to support seven controllers at once. Next, the L2 and R2 buttons are now triggers, making the button layout similar to that of the Xbox 360's controller. The triggers are wider and don't have as long of a throw, but it's a definite improvement over simple buttons.
The biggest addition is that the SIXAXIS features tilt technology that works with six-axis of freedom (roll, pitch, yaw, X, Y, Z). This means that it'll recognize any angle the controller is situated in, allowing you full 3D control over the orientation of an onscreen object. The first game shown utilizing this technology was Warhawk -- where rather than using the analogue sticks to fly the ship, its yaw and pitch were controlled by simply tilting the controller.
The tilt feature comes at a price however, and thusly the PlayStation 3's controller does not feature the rumble technology found in the Dual Shock 2.
What does the controller look like?
Take a look:
What sort of battery life can we expect, and how is the SIXAXIS recharged?
The controller is charged via a mini-USB cable, the kind that most digital cameras accept. The PlayStation 3 ships with one of these cables in the box. The controller contains an internal, non-removable lithium-ion battery and lasts around 30 hours on a single charge.
How far is the controller's wireless range?
20 meters, or about 65 feet.
Will the PlayStation 3 come equipped with a hard drive? How big will it be?
Indeed. The system that sells in Australia comes with a 60GB hard drive, allowing users to store downloaded content, saves, media and more. The drives are 2.5" Serial ATA drives, like you'd find in most laptops.
What kind of disc drive will the system use?
Sony announced some time ago that the PlayStation 3 will make use of Blu-ray technology. Sony and Toshiba had been in talks to combine the competing Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats into a single standard, though those talks have been disbanded. The drive itself is slot-loading.
How fast will the optical disc drive be?
Blu-ray technology transfers at 36Mbps at 1X speed, or about 4.5MB per second, and the PlayStation 3 features a 2X drive, so it will transfer data at 72Mbps or 9MB per second. It also reads DVDs at 8X and CDs at 24X speeds.
Besides a hard disc and Blu-ray drive, what other sorts of storage options will be supported?
Memory Stick (standard and Duo), SD and CompactFlash. PlayStation 3 also allows you to use USB flash drives.
There aren't any Memory Card slots on the system. Will PS2/PS One saves be compatible in any way, or will we have to start our games all over again?
Sony will release a peripheral that will allow users to copy their PS2/ PS One saves from a Memory Card to the hard drive, and back again if they wish. The hard drive will contain space for "Virtual Memory Cards" that will mimic a hard Memory Card, and users will save PS2 and PS One games here.
The Cell Microprocessor
What is the Cell?
The Cell processor was co-designed by IBM, Toshiba and Sony. Configurations can differ, but here's how the PS3's Cell chip is configured:
PowerPC-based Core @ 3.2GHz
7 SPEs @ 3.2GHz
512KB L2 Cache
7 x 256KB SRAM for SPEs
Basically, a single Cell processor is designed to act like multiple processors working together, or even independently. A Cell processor has a single PowerPC Architecture Unit (PAU) and multiple Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). A Cell's PAU dolls out instructions to its various SPEs, which can then independently work on tasks. So for instance, one SPU might be programmed to run a game's AI while another handles physics. Since each one acts independently, multiple calculations can be done simultaneously. In other words, it's very powerful. In fact, it's powerful enough to perform 218 GFLOPS.
Who is supplying the hardware?
IBM, Toshiba and Sony are supplying the Cell processors, while NVIDIA is handling the graphics processor.
Tell me about the graphics chip...
NVIDIA's chip is codenamed RSX. The chip runs at 550MHz and is capable of rendering video natively at 1080p, or 1920x1080 progressively (non-interlaced). It's touted to hit 1.8 TFLOPS of floating point performance and can perform 100 billion shader operations per second, or 136 shader operations per cycle. The RSX uses 128-bit precision for enhanced color definition, making the system capable of High Dynamic Range rendering. Programming-wise, it's based on OpenGL and NVIDIA's CG language.
The GeForce 7900 series GPUs for the PC provides a reasonable real-world approximation of what sort of effects the RSX and PlayStation 3 can handle.
How much RAM does the PS3 have?
256MB of XDR Main RAM @ 3.2GHz and 256MB of GDDR3 VRAM @ 700MHz, or a total of 512MB for the entire system. The RSX graphics chip can actually use all 512MB of system RAM; it is not limited to the 256MB of GDDR3 RAM.
Will the PlayStation 3 output 16:9 or HD video?
Yes. In fact, the system will support resolutions up to and including 1080p. Yes, as in 1920x1080 progressive, not interlaced. 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i are, of course, also supported.
What sorts of video connections will be available?
Composite, S-Video and component are all possible via AV cables, but for the best image quality the system also employs a built-in HDMI connection. The system ships with a composite cable; to enable high definition, a separate HDMI or component cable must be purchased.
What sort of surround sound support will the PlayStation 3 have?
For in-game audio, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS are all supported and processed by the Cell. However, keep in mind that since all the audio processing is done by the Cell, developers can use or create whatever audio codecs they desire. 7.1 channel support is already announced, but again, given developers' ability to program their own codecs, this may only be a starting point.
What kind of audio connections are available?
Analog stereo, optical audio and HDMI output.
Will the PlayStation 3 have camera functionality?
The PlayStation 3 will boast an HD IP (High-Definition Internet Protocol) Camera that's essentially the next generation of the EyeToy. The new camera will capture images that match the same screen output as the PlayStation 3 and will work off an Internet address so that it can be used anywhere in the world for use in independent web-cam broadcasts.
What sort of network connections are available? Does it feature WiFi?
The PlayStation 3 features a gigabit Ethernet port, and the 60GB version also has 802.11b/g wireless functionality.
What companies are confirmed to be developing and publishing games for the PS3?
A good rule of thumb is that if they exist and they aren't Microsoft or Nintendo, they're onboard to create or publish PlayStation 3 games.
Will the PlayStation 3 use the same network setup as the PlayStation 2?
The online network is, just as was the case with the PlayStation 2, an open and free network, meaning that companies will be able to connect their own servers and run their own hosted games. This time around however, Sony will implement a greatly extended hub system, which is how all of the PlayStation 3's community features will work across each and every game.
The PS3's online network allows for friends lists, downloadable content (free and purchased via micropayments), voice and video chat (including in-game) and more. Games and demos will be able to be downloaded to the hard drive at launch, and the PSP will interface with the PS3 in order to download content for the handheld. Not only that, but using the Remote Play option, you're able to stream video, music and images to your PSP from the PS3.
The entire service is free of charge, including general online play. The only things you'll have to pay for is some premium downloadable content and subscriptions to select games, like MMOs.
Will it be backwards compatible?
Yes, but the list of compatible games will only be known at launch. The AU PS3 has had hardware emulation disabled in favour of software emulation, unlike the US version. Whether or not this will lead to better or worse backwards compatibility is not known.
Will PlayStation 3 be compatible with the PSP?
You'll be able to use the PS3 to download content for the PSP.
What will ship with the package?
The packaging will contain:
PlayStation 3 console
SIXAXIS wireless controller
USB mini-cable (for charging the SIXAXIS controller)
Multi-AV cable with composite connectors Note that the PlayStation 3 does not come with HD cables of any sort, be it component or HDMI. The main reason for this is obviously a matter of cost, but as the PlayStation 3 uses the same cables as the PlayStation 2, if you already have component cables for the PS2 they'll work with the PS3.
What official accessories will be available, and how much will they cost?
Additional SIXAXIS controllers will be available for AU$79.95, while the Blu-ray remote will retail for AU$49.95.
Is the PS3 region-locked?
Technically speaking, yes, though Sony has said that it doesn't plan on region-locking games. It's possible that third-party developers may choose to do so, in which case they'll flag the disc as so in software, but it sounds like most games will be region-free. Movies, however, will be region-specific.