PS3 to ship without HDD?

SCE's chief technical officer says company still pondering whether to ship its next-gen console with a detachable hard drive; 2006 launch still on track.


In an interview published in the latest issue of Famitsu, Sony Computer Entertainment corporate executive and chief technical officer Masayuki Chatanai revealed his company is undecided on whether the PlayStation 3 with ship with a compact 2.5-inch hard drive. He said that Sony adopted a removable hard drive format for the PS3 for the convenience of users, as it will allow them to snap it on other PlayStation 3s if they want to share media files, just as Xbox 360 owners will be able to. However, while Microsoft's console will come standard with a 20GB "outrigger" hard drive, meaning developers will be able to incorporate it into their game designs, it's unclear if Sony's console will have the same functionality.

When asked if the there was a possibility the design of the prototype PS3 controller--already derisively being called the "batarang"--might be changed before launch, Chatani replied that there may be some "minor changes." However, he said that its form factor will probably stay the same.

As Sony revealed during its presentation at E3, the PlayStation 3 can be played with up to seven wireless controllers, an odd number for game consoles, which usually favor enough ports for evenly matched teams. Chatani revealed that seven controllers were the maximum number of Bluetooth wireless connections the PS3 could handle. He said additional controllers could be added by plugging them into the PS3's USB slots.

The PS3 comes with six USB slots, three times more than the PS2. The machine also comes with a Memory Stick slot, a compact flash slot, and an SD card slot for additional external media. However, the PS3 does not have a Memory Card slot, despite its backward compatibility with the PS2, raising the question of how players will transfer game saves.

As SCE president Ken Kutaragi said in a recent interview, Chatani said he expects the PS3 to be an "entertainment machine," though he emphasized, "make no mistake--games will be the killer app for the PlayStation 3." Chatani said that he also plans to give the console powerful Internet-based communication functions to encourage owners to use it daily.

Chatani commented that the PS3 is still at a prototype stage and has room for improvement in graphics and physics. Nvidia CFO Marv Burkett also revealed last week that the RSX graphics chip for the PS3 is also still under development and has yet to be finalized. The tech demos running at E3 last month were shown using current-generation PC technology with similar capabilities to the RSX, which is rumored to be a combination of a GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI GPU and/or a next-gen desktop graphics chip from Nvidia, which codesigned the RSX.

Chatani also said the PlayStation 3 will follow a similar release schedule as the PSP, hinting it may be playable at the Tokyo Game Show this fall. Sony showed trailers of PSP gameplay at E3 in May 2004, and then it presented the machine in playable form at TGS the following September, before its release on December 12. He confirmed that Sony is still aiming for a spring 2006 US launch for the PS3, with a possible simultaneous launch in Japan. The console would debut just under six years after the October 2000 US launch of the PlayStation 2 (March 2000 in Japan) and 11 years after the original PlayStation hit the North American continent in 1995 (December 1994 in Japan).

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