Useful Notes / PlayStation 3

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It only does everything.

"If only there was a game console that was also a Blu-ray player."

The third generation of Sony's PlayStation console, and Sony's entry in the Seventh Generation, the PlayStation 3 tried to do with Blu-ray what PlayStation 2 did with the original DVD format. They succeeded, but it took a significantly longer period of time. Sony knocked HD DVD out as a competitor, but primarily did so by rallying market support towards Blu-ray rather than offering any real innovation one way or the other; as detailed on the main page for Blu-ray, this lack of innovation ended up being a huge limitation for the format, as there was nothing Blu-ray Video could do that DVD Video hadn't already accomplished (compared to the launch of the DVD format itself, which offered a much larger amount of interactivity than VHS and LaserDisc). The recession a couple years after the PS3 launched slowed down the sales of HDTVs, which meant the synergy needed for Blu-ray to take off was hurt (regular DVD didn't need anything other than people having TVs with audio/video plugs, or adapters if they didn't). It also represented a last desperate attempt by Sony to save SACDnote  and the first couple of generations were compatible. This failed utterly and the feature was quietly dropped along with PS2 backward compatibility with the CECHG revision.note  Overall, these circumstances led people to view the PS3 as a Trojan Horse for Blu-rays and SACD, with the general public being apathetic to both formats overall at the time. As HDTVs have since gotten cheaper and caught on, this problem has somewhat healed, but not completely. The opportunity for PS3 to ride the wave of HD enthusiasm from launch has been lost forever.

But the PS3 itself had bigger problems. The system was built with the dream of being an affordable supercomputer. Unfortunately, supercomputers are judged more by their relative processing power compared to computers of the age than by design and affordability. Even though the cell processor has a lot of speed, making an actual supercomputer from the system's parts requires linking several together. While several groups have done this, the need for multiple console units does defeat the notion of an "affordable" supercomputer.

But by going with this design, the system cost a lot more to make than previous PlayStation systems. The system launched at $500 US for the low-end CECHB 20 GB model and FIVE-HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE US DOLLARS for the high-end CECHA 60 GB revision. Not only did this make the system one of the most expensive ever (in Europe and Australia it was on the level of the 3DO, CDi, and the Neo Geo) but the systems were being sold at a loss note , and required the sale of five games per console before Sony broke even on the console itself. The plan was to make with this in terms of software and Blu-ray sales (at least Sony Pictures movies, partly why they were so aggressive in getting rid of HD DVD), but Blu-ray sales were slower than they thought, and game sales, while decent, used to be below those of Xbox 360 games, although this became less so as time moved forward.

The PS3's programming was notoriously difficult to learn at first, which meant more time, effort, and money spent on game development, and the 360 had a year start. Thus, early on, developers faced the problem of either accepting a lower profit margin for a given game or selling it at a higher price. Since the games, except for JRPGs, generally sold less (with some exceptions), but cost a lot either way (companies have stated HD games cost around two to three times as much as a Wii game), Multi-Platform releases started becoming even more common than in any generation before. As developers have gotten the hang of this, the problem has been marginalized, resulting in more software releases as of late, both Multi-Platform and exclusive.

While it wasn't so bad in the console's later life, early on these factors severely hurt the PS3 as it was and came in addition to an already bad PR problem caused by Sony's pre-launch marketing. Sony came across as arrogant, with Ken Kutaragi (the creator of the PlayStation) making statements such as the system would sell 5,000,000 even without games, and that he wanted people to want the PS3 enough to work harder to earn it (forgetting that the Crack Is Cheaper notion was mainly with the base, not the mainstream). There are a couple of other infamous lines, but most of those simply became Internet memes instead of hurting the system's reputation.

While the system itself had a strong design and reliable capabilities (it was also a very viable Blu-ray player alternative, particularly in the first few years when it was the cheapest on the market), it failed to reach the heights of its predecessors, with Sony winding up losing the console gaming throne it held with the first two PlayStations. The console launched in late 2006, but didn't turn a profit for Sony Computer Entertainment until the third quarter of 2008.

In August 2009, a new variant of the PS3 was released — the Slim, a smaller device with most of the same features and a relatively significant reduction in power needs. More importantly, this led to price drops all around, putting the PS3 within striking range of the Xbox 360. Since PS3s are still more technologically advanced than Xbox 360s, and Microsoft discontinued its midprice 360 model in the meantime, the fortunes of the PS3 improved by the end of the generation (as in, more releases). If there was anything that led to disappointment during this time frame, it was 3D TV's introduction. Sony introduced 3D support with the 3.50 update and games like Gran Turismo 5 and Killzone 3 took full advantage of it, but 3D TV ended up dead in the water as another "next big thing" that never became the next big thing, though that's a story of its own.

In September 2012, an even slimmer model of the PS3 was released. Dubbed the Super-Slim, this model cut costs even further by removing the front-loading slot drive in favor of a top loading drive (similar to its predecessors — the PS2 Slim and PSOne — before) and shrinking the unit size even further, and a value model with 12GB of flash storage instead of a hard drive was made available for purchase along with a 500GB hard drive variant of the same model.

The PS3 was notable for avoiding Region Coding, this maneuver comparable to that on the Nintendo DS. With a few exceptionsnote , all PS3 games and downloadable PS1 games are region-free, and although the PSN store is picky about accepting credit cards from other regions, PSN games downloaded from it are not region coded. Blu-ray Discs (or BDs), DVDs, PS2, and PS1 discs remain region-locked. An HDTV is needed to guarantee playing all out-of-region games — while some PAL games will also run on NTSC televisions and vice versa, others will not. Several publishers attempted to publish region-locked games in the past, but backed out after outcries and threats of boycott.

However, this doesn't mean that the game can't detect what region the console it's running on and react accordingly: The Country Switch trope entry has anecdotes of PS3 games that do detect the region of the console they're running on, although the most drastic thing these detections do appears to be simply disabling blood and gore if the console's detected to be Japanese. Which is funny when you consider another, somewhat unrelated, trope.

PS2 support for the console, and Linux support, were dropped on the Slim and later models. The PS3 does have the ability to emulate PS2 games in software, but because of difficulties emulating games made for certain PS2 firmware builds, Sony limited this to a handful of downloadable "PS2 Classics". Older versions of the consolesnote  were still able to enjoy PS2 support, however. As of firmware version 3.21 (released on 1 April 2010), the "OtherOS" support was dropped from the older models. Despite claims that the removal of the feature was a security measure (and some had said it was an anti-piracy measure), the removal of the OtherOS function had gotten Sony some backlash and even at least six lawsuits including one by the Dutch governmentnote . The move sparked a heated yet ongoing debate about how a console can be used by the end user after the initial purchase is made.

Oddly enough, despite the issues with compatibility in regards to its direct predecessor, all models of the PS3 can still play PS1 game discs just fine with just a few out of its massive library noted be unsupported.

At the 2010 Game Developers Conference, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Move, a device similar in concept and design to the Wii, but which has more functions in addition to being both HD and 3D compatible, as well as having a high level of precision. Two controllers can be used at once, some games using two of the primary controllers (the ones with the ball on the end) at once to simulate two handed actions, and others may instead use the secondary remote with the control stick and d-pad. The secondary one, called the Navigation Controller is not required, as the left side of the DualShock 3 aka Sixaxis can be used instead. It did require adding a PSEye camera to the system, though. It's also worth noting that regardless of whether the Wii was anything of an inspiration, or how much of one is disputed, development actually began as early as 2001.

However, despite high hopes from Sony and generally positive reviews from critics and audiences, the PS Move failed to win the market over the same way the Wii and the Kinect did. A few reasons can be chalked up for this — it lacked a proper Killer App that could easily demonstrate what the system was capable of (for example, the game that was demoed in most stores could essentially be chalked up to "Wii Sports but better," which was just not enough to capture the interest of the average consumer; compare the Kinect which had games such as Kinect Adventures, which felt much more like its own unique experience), and many of the ones planned to be such ended up receiving mediocre reviews such as EyePet. Couple that with the fact that despite it being far technologically superior, the idea was just too similar to the Wii in concept and execution at the end of the day, which led to the average consumer questioning exactly what the need for it was. It did sell marginally well, mind you — 9 million units after a year on the market — but compare it to the Kinect which sold about that many in only two months, and it soon becomes apparent why it ended up going forgotten in the long run.

The PS3 was also the center of political controversy several different times. Among these times, the PSN was once shut down for weeks at a time due to a security breach, and LG once got the PS3 banned in the Netherlands for 10 days.note 

In February 2013, Sony announced the PlayStation 4, which was released in late November 2013. Unlike its predecessor, the PS4 made a profit for Sony in December 2013, after just a month on the market.


Specs:

Processors:
  • CPU: IBM POWER5-based Cell Broadband Engine, or just Cell, running at 3.2GHz and rated for 230.4 GFLOPS.
    • There's one central Power Processing Element (PPE), which acts as a controller for the smaller processors.
    • There are 7 Synergistic Processing Elements (SPE). These do the bulk of the work. 6 of 7 are available for games, with the 7th one for the OS.
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX based "Reality Synthesizer," or RSX, running at 550MHz
  • The first two generation of NTSC PS3s (US and Japan models) also have a Emotion Engine and a Graphics Synthesizer chip for hardware backwards compatibility purposes. The second generation PS3 models included only the Graphics Synthesizer. This was finally dropped off with all PS3 models introduced after the Slim model.

Storage:
  • Two memory pools:
    • 256 MB of XDR memory at 3.2 GHz with 15GB/s write and 20GB/s read bandwidth. This is shared between the CPU and GPU.
    • 256MB GDDR3 memory at 700 MHz with 22.4 GB/s bandwidth. This is used by the GPU exclusively.
    • The total of 512 MB is equal to the amount of RAM in the Xbox 360; however, developers have noted that having two separate RAM pools is one of the things that makes the PS3 more difficult to develop for than the Xbox, which has all of its memory unified into one pool.
  • Stock hard drive sizes ranges from 20 to 500 GB, but any 2.5" SATA drive can be installed.
    • The budget super slim model ships with 12GB of flash memory instead of a hard drive, though one can be installed later.
  • 2x Blu-ray drive. Blu-ray movies, DVDs and CDs are all supported.
    • Bandwidth is 9 MB/s. This is why Metal Gear Solid 4 took long to install before it was patched to allow full installation.
    • The first two generations of the PS3 note  also played the rare Super Audio CD, an ultra-high-fidelity audio disc format.
  • The NTSC 60GB and 80GB and the PAL 60 GB models had a Memory Stick, SD and CompactFlash card reader. In models without a built-in memory card reader, a USB reader may be used instead.

Graphics:
  • Can support resolutions up to 1080p native for some games. But most games were 720p or sub-720p (sometimes as low as 480p) upscaled to 720p.
  • Supports OpenGL ES 1.1 with some NVIDIA's Cg.
  • It cannot support HDR and antialiasing at the same time, though the former can be faked convincingly.
  • Supports "quincunx" antialiasing, which is 2x MSAA + the values of 3 neighboring pixels. This results in an image with fewer "jaggies," but is slightly blurred.
  • Video acceleration is not supported on Linux, due to Sony restricting hardware-level access to the RSX via a hypervisor.

Connections:
  • AV outputs to either the HDMI port or the proprietary A/V port with composite, S-Video, and component support.
  • 4 USB slots, dropped to 2 with the release of the NTSC 40 GB model.
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, except the NTSC 20 GB revision.
  • 1 TOS-LINK optical output.


Games:

Exclusives

Other Games

Alternative Title(s): PS 3

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