Sony plans to take on the likes of heavyweights Microsoft and Intel in the home entertainment race with its next generation Playstation.
Sony confirmed that it will release its next level console, provisionally titled Playstation II, in Japan later this year and in the US and Europe before Christmas 2000.
Playstation is already the best selling consumer electronics product with over 50 million shipped since its debut nearly five years ago. Including games, it is estimated that around #20 billion has been spent on Playstation products.
At the core of Playstation II will be the 128bit Emotion Engine chip, developed jointly by Sony and Toshiba. It is around three times more powerful than the recently launched Intel Pentium III, making it possible to produce cinema quality computer graphics.
Determined to create a total in house entertainment centre, Sony also plans to include high capacity digital video disk (DVD-Rom) technology as well as Internet connectivity and a digital music system within the console.
Whilst initially Playstation II will go up against Sega?s Dreamcast console, which has already sold 500,000 units in Japan since launch late last year, Sony is setting its sights in bigger competition.
?The next generation of Playstation should be a challenge to Intel and Microsoft,? said Nobuyuki Idei, the president of Sony, who believes it could trigger off a new entertainment business in itself.
Sony said that the ?emotion synthesis? graphics processing within Playstation II will be so sophisticated they will be able to simulate gravity, friction, mass and materials such as water and metal. It will use Mpeg-2 to store images, which means they can be compressed in realtime.
It does not stop there. The console will simulate, ?not just how images look, but how characters and objects in a game think, act and behave. Imagine walking into a screen and experiencing a movie in real time...this is the world we are about to enter,? explained Sony in a statement.
Although Playstation II is likely to be backward compatible, the biggest challenge for Sony will be co-ordinating the migration of consumers from one platform to another without losing sales.
Its other hurdle will be the development of enough games for the Playstation II when it launches. It only released technical specifications to games developers yesterday. Many games take at least 12 months to develop.
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