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The entire PlayStation 2 Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer as found on the current North American PS3 motherboard
European PS3 to have inferior backwards compatibility compared to North American and Japanese models

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) announced that the PlayStation 3 to be launched in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia on March 23, 2007 will utilize a “new hardware specification.” Presumably, the new specification will differ from all the currently released PlayStation 3 consoles launched in Japan and North America.

In a press release issued by SCEE, the company describes the main features of the system that are common knowledge, and adds that the Euro-spec machine “also embodies a new combination of hardware and software emulation which will enable PS3 to be compatible with a broad range of original PlayStation titles and a limited range of PlayStation 2 titles.”

The European PS3 will lack the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer (EE+GS) chip necessary to provide hardware-based backwards compatibility for previous-generation titles. Instead, Sony plans to accomplish compatibility with older games through software emulation—a trickier and more fickle feat than simply including and utilizing PS2 processors.

“The Emotion Engine has been removed and that function has been replaced with software,” said Nick Sharples, a spokesman for Sony in London. That has a “slightly detrimental effect” on compatibility, he said to the IDG News Service.

“The backwards compatibility is not going to be as good as the U.S. and Japan models,” another Sony spokesman said to Reuters.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been using a software emulation scheme since inception to make its system backwards compatible with original Xbox games. While Microsoft has promised that it will continue working on improving backwards compatibility through system updates, the Xbox 360 is only able to play from a limited list of older games.

Gamers keen on exploring PlayStation’s extensive back catalog will be disappointed to find that their upcoming European PS3s will only be able to play a limited selection of previous generation games. Sony isn’t viewing backwards compatibility on the PS3 as a priority, and says that new generation games should be the system’s main focus.

“PS3 is first and foremost a system that excels in playing games specifically designed to exploit the power and potential of the PS3 system,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “Games designed for PS3 offer incredible graphics quality, stunning gameplay and massively improved audio and video fidelity that is simply not achievable with PS and PS2 games.”

Sony Europe defends its decision by saying that the costs savings of backwards compatibility will be put back into other company investments.

“Rather than concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility, in the future, company resources will be increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3, truly taking advantage of this exciting technology,” stated Reeves.

Analysts have estimated that Sony loses $241 on every 60GB PS3—the only version available for the March 23 launch. Word of a cost-cutting strategy came from Japan earlier this month, which points to Sony’s strong desire to improve its bottom line.

The hardware changes to the European PS3 represent the first step taken to reduce costs. “If we are able to reduce the production cost, it has a follow-on effect” on the selling price, Sharples said. But the new, less costly PS3 aimed at Europe carries one of the priciest stickers for the system, revealing a contradiction in the Sony representative’s statement. In Europe, the lone 60GB PS3 is priced €599 (US$786) or £425 (US$830), and for Australia $999 (US$791)—more expensive than the North American and Japanese PS3 consoles equipped with the EE+GS chip.

Sony Computer Entertainment America executives have gone on record to say the PS3 will be “difficult to cost reduce,” and that any reductions that do occur will not immediately translate to lower prices. Furthermore, iSuppli estimates that the EE+GS chip carries a material cost of $27, leaving some to question the cost/benefit of the chip’s removal.

While SCEE preaches the cost-savings advantage of the new hardware specification, it now must divert resources to individually tweak and perform QA for each PlayStation 2 game to be emulated by the PS3 hardware. Sony would not comment on which games will be compatible with PS3’s new software emulation, but did say that gamers will be able to check whether their titles are compatible with PS3 at a special European backwards compatibility site starting March 23.

Sony Europe also said that previous-generation games not initially playable on the European PS3 might eventually be emulated as the company releases firmware updates. "It would be reasonable to assume that the better-selling games are the ones we will be putting effort into," Sharples said.

The creation of a differing hardware specification for Europe and other territories splits the PlayStation 3 manufacturing into another separate line. There are currently two variations of the PS3, differing in hard drive size, memory card reader and wireless connectivity. The European spec would add a third, unless Sony has plans to do away with the EE+GS chips in all PS3s worldwide.

SCEA remains mum on whether or not the hardware revision will apply in its own market. When contacted by DailyTech for comment on the future plans for North American PS3s, a representative stated, “We have no announcement regarding any hardware specification changes for PS3 in North America at this time.”

Regardless of what future hardware revisions may come, Sony of America and Japan are expected to continue support for over 1.48 million EE+GS-included PlayStation 3 consoles currently in the hands of North American and Japanese gamers.



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Immoral
By ira176 on 2/25/2007 5:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
What Sony is doing is immoral and unethical. I thought that the PS3 was orginally designed to be backward compatible. Now in order for Sony to save on costs, they're cutting corners, reducing backward compatiblity by leaving out a chip that the U.S. and Japan still gets, and implementing software emmulation. If I was a European, I would be pretty upset with Sony. Sony again fills the shoes of the evil empire in my mind, because they promise one thing and deliver somthing different at a premium price and all because they can.




RE: Immoral
By daftrok on 2/25/2007 7:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
Immoral? Unethical? Exaggeration?


RE: Immoral
By aos007 on 2/26/2007 12:40:49 PM , Rating: 3
It's not an exaggeration. Considering that people have already committed to preorders - and likely even paid some money down - it sure is unethical and immoral to change the feature set in such a meaningful way after the fact. It may even be illegal. Unless people are allowed to cancel their preorder and get FULL refunds of the money they already paid. But it's the merchants that get to say whether you can cancel a preorder, not Sony. So things aren't quite clean cut.


RE: Immoral
By StevoLincolnite on 2/25/2007 8:45:07 PM , Rating: 3
I almost had a hernia! 999 bucks for a gaming console? They have to be kidding! And not to mention its a console that wont play allot of my PS2 and PS1 games collection!? I sold my PS1 and got a PS2 as I could play all my PS1 Games on the machine, And most notable Final Fantasy 8 definitely wanted it to play. And it did, Sorry Sony I think I might Jump on the Wii bandwagon this time, I think this is utter bullshit!
At least the Wii here is only 399 bucks here in Aus. the 360 is currently set at 630 bucks here in South Australia, Not to mention PS3's Game line-up is currently inferior in comparison to the 360 and it hasn't revolutionized games in the way the Wii has.
Sony.... Wii Will Wii Will rock you!
*sigh* Maybe Sega might come back and release something like the dreamcast all over again, that console rocked :) I personally thought the games looked better as well, And with some mods makes a good Media Center Console/PC to play all my DivX videos :)


RE: Immoral
By ADDAvenger on 2/26/2007 12:02:25 AM , Rating: 2
Got a US buddy that'll ship one to you?


RE: Immoral
By BCanR2D2 on 2/26/2007 5:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
Meh - Considering it would be NTSC, I think not, we run PAL over here and don't mind the extra resolution!!!

Most people would still use a standard TV, so this seems to be that any PAL territories will get the software emulation...

Hmmmmm, seems a tad extreme to say that extra chips go into a NTSC machine (standard 640 x 480 res) and the PAL machines (720 x 480) seems to upset the apple cart.

Is it a scaling issue with the Emotion chips??? Are they only NTSC TV output versions????!!!!


RE: Immoral
By Spoelie on 2/26/2007 7:23:20 AM , Rating: 4
Horizontal resolutions aren't that well defined on a TV, the scanlines just adhere to the given aspect ratio ("length"). Remember that we are sending stuff in analog form, not digitally.

NTSC is 525 scanlines with ~40 of them controlling vertical positioning, while PAL is 625 lines with a similar amount controlling positioning. This leaves respectively about 480 and 576 lines. So converted to PC-like resolutions it would read something like 640x480 and 720x576 instead.

On a real TV, the amount of information you actually see is even less, due to fitting of the scanlines. You can lose as much as 50% of the information...

The emotion chips are independent of the tv-out chips. It's purely a business decision, not a technical barrier.


RE: Immoral
By BirdDad on 2/26/2007 8:04:23 AM , Rating: 2
PAL is 704 x 576


RE: Immoral
By BirdDad on 2/26/2007 8:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
PAL is also 352 x 576


RE: Immoral
By TheDoc9 on 2/26/2007 10:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
PAL- 720 x 576i
NTSC- 720 x 480i

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAL


RE: Immoral
By Justin Case on 2/26/2007 11:42:43 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, as the multiple replies suggest. :)

There are no "pixels" as such in analog, so the number of pixels per line is a very vague concept, there (that didn't stop the people who wrote the ITU/CCIR601 spec, though). The number of lines is a more well-defined quantity, and that is 576 (visibile) lines for PAL and 480 (visible) lines for NTSC.

Here "visible" means "that are supposed to contain image information", they're not necessarily visible (see below).

In a few high-end formats (ex., Beta Digital), NTSC uses 486 "visible" lines, instead of 480.

The number of "pixels" per line for digital formats is defined as 720, with 704 (or, in some documents, 702) of those being visible. This (704x576 for PAL and 704x480 for NTSC) is the area officially taken into account when calculating the correct pixel aspect ratio to get a 4:3 (or 16:9) image.

However, a lot of modern video formats assume that the whole 720x576 (or 720x480) is supposed to be counted. This has a minimal impact on the image's aspect ratio, so it's no big deal, just one of those examples of how video "standards" manage to be messier than computer standards, sometimes. Anyway, the lines should always have 720 pixels, the issue here is only if they are all considered "visible", and counted towards establishing the aspect ratio. Formats that store only 704 pixels per line should technically add 8 pixels at the start and end of each line, when sending it to a screen.

In practical terms, the real "visible" area is not 704x576 (or 704x580), though, because all consumer TV sets "eat" a few pixels on each edge (typically around 5%). So anything that's less than 50 pixels from the edge risks being out of the frame on some TV sets.

Note that neither PAL nor NTSC (both 4:3 and 16:9) use perfectly square pixels. For this reason, the resolutions are often approximated (ex., to 768x576 and 640x480), and the image is scaled when it's converted to analog. The vertical resolution is kept because vertical resizing of an interlaced signal is what video engineers refer to as "a bitch".


RE: Immoral
By kilkennycat on 2/27/2007 1:41:31 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The vertical resolution is kept because vertical resizing of an interlaced signal is what video engineers refer to as "a bitch".


Which is exactly where Sony fell down in the US market with the large number of 1080i TVs already out there. 720p to 1080i upscaling with a software hack just does not fly. The Xbox360 got it right and of course Sony was too arrogant to study all aspects of the Xbox360 design in sufficient detail to latch on to this gross hardware-design oversight of theirs.


RE: Immoral
By Justin Case on 2/26/2007 11:58:38 PM , Rating: 2
Just because you can capture video at "Something x Something" pixels, that doesn't mean that's part of the actual format specifications.

Analog PAL doesn't have "pixels" per line as such, but if you capture it at 352x576 and later try to transfer it over a digital video connection (ex., SDI), the video needs to be scaled back to the "official" size, which is 720x576. Presumably, the 352x576 video threw away the edges, so it actually needs to be resized to 704x576 first, and then have 8 pixels added to the start and end of each line, before it counts as "proper" PAL.

PAL normally uses 4:2:2 sampling, so its horizontal chroma resolution is only half the pixel resolution, but if you capture the video to 352x576 and then encode it in a format with 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 sampling (ex., DVD MPEG-2, or MJPEG), you are downsampling the chroma channels again, so you end up losing luma and chroma resolution. Not good.


RE: Immoral
By afkrotch on 2/26/2007 1:29:18 AM , Rating: 2
Did you know the Wii cost $1,110 US dollars in Brazil? $550 in Turkey? $410 in Mexico? $393 in Sweden?

It's the normal price game, yet they make it look like only Sony is doing it. It's no difference from what Microsoft did with the Xbox 360 or what Nintendo did with the Wii.

Also, please tell me what games the Xbox 360 had when it first launched. It's really pretty unfair to compare the game lineup for a console that's been out for over a year and one that's been out for a few months.

Shoot, the Xbox 360 didn't have any new games for over 4 months during it's release. Quite different for the PS3. Course I'm buying Japanese games, which seem to be coming out every month. Also, I only paid $400 US dollars for my 60 gig model.

Cater to your homeland first. That's why the 360 has so many damn FPS games and nothing else that appeals to me. Course I'll still be getting on as it has 3 exclusive titles that I want (DoA, DoA Extreme 2, and Idolm@ster).


RE: Immoral
By patentman on 2/26/2007 8:12:56 AM , Rating: 2
Likely its not all a price game by the manufacturers. I'd be willing to bet that varying import costs and lack of supply is what is driving the cost of consoles in various countries.


RE: Immoral
By Moishe on 2/26/2007 9:00:26 AM , Rating: 2
you're probably right. I'd bet it's mostly import costs (taxes, fees, etc). Blame the government but Sony or Nintendo


RE: Immoral
By sviola on 2/26/2007 9:22:08 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the PS3 costs $2500 US dollars in Brazil and the Xbox 360 costs $1500. That's part taxes (yeah, we have a 80% tax on videogames) and part overpricing by manufacturers and sellers.


RE: Immoral
By phusg on 2/26/2007 3:17:25 AM , Rating: 1
Going the wii way will cost you 10 times (!!!) less electricity than either the XBox or PS3, see http://www.hardcoreware.net/reviews/review-356-2.h...

I'm a PC gamer myself, but if I was a PS2 owner I would be livid with Sony right now.


RE: Immoral
By vze4z7nx on 2/26/2007 6:05:29 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever seen a 600 watt or 800 watt or even a 1000 watt power supply for a PC? Yeah those things consume way more than 200 watts.

That site must be a joke or something.


RE: Immoral
By regnez on 2/26/2007 6:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
While I don't frequent that site myself, I don't doubt that those numbers are true.

Just because they make 1000 watt PS's does not mean that a pc actually uses that much power.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2873...

In that review they are testing a bunch of different 8800GTXs, and the most that any of the systems draw in the review is just over 300 watts. And that is the entire system, filled with all top end components.


RE: Immoral
By phusg on 2/27/2007 8:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
Your post is the joke. In answer to your question, yes I have seen even a 1000 Watt PC PSU. I've also seen Hummers but I'm not rushing out to buy one to commute to work with everyday. Big is not always best. You people really need to get over that. It's out of control!


RE: Immoral
By Samus on 2/27/2007 12:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
yea, 999 bucks when ours is 599 and BETTER.


RE: Immoral
By JimFear on 2/26/07, Rating: 0
RE: Immoral
By ogreslayer on 2/26/2007 9:52:37 AM , Rating: 3
The thing that will die most often first is going to be the Blu-Ray drive followed in frequency by the RSX then the CELL and probably the case itself before the now tried and true EE+GSrev3. Their reasoning is to save as much money as possible as they are not selling the systems. They already hit the general price ceiling for the units, where by most people who were willing to pay $600 for a unit that is gonna die within the next 3 years have done so. Until they can drop the units to about $450-500 they are not gonna be able to capitalize on the brand name. They cant reasonably do that at a $200 loss per unit but the closer they bring it to $100 then its more likely we will see it. I hope US and Asian gamers don't think that this change won't happen for them, just watch we will get it too as soon as they start running out of EE+GS they will announce a 'new' unit with the CELL and RSX on new processes and a new slimer case and software emulation of PS2 titles.


RE: Immoral
By Moishe on 2/26/2007 8:56:44 AM , Rating: 3
Unethical, maybe, but immoral?
While I agree that this is a step backwards (Sony agrees too), they are trying to cut very high costs while still providing similar functionality. I'm not a fan of Sony at all, but this seems like a smart business move. They need to do everything possible to win at the future of gaming, and backward compatibility is not the primary focus for the future.

If I were to buy a PS<anything> it would be for new games. Those who have the older games will likely still play them on their PS2, so there is no loss, unless they were dumb enough to sell the PS2 when they bought the PS3.

IMO backward compatibility on something like a game console is a waste of resources. It's spending extra money so that you can have a checkbox on a feature list. B.C. doesn't provide better looking games, it doesn't provide access to games that you'd normally not have access to (since you can still play them on the PS2), it doesn't improve the console's power. It's a feature designed to sway the people who are on the fence about whether or not to buy it.

I think Nintendo's strategy is best. Sony should port and recompile older, popular games (from anywhere) and sell them online. They would get the same benefit without the hardware cost.


RE: Immoral
By MonkeyPaw on 2/26/2007 10:39:32 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the problem I see is that Sony is the one who chose to make the PS3 what it is, and at what price to sell it. It's only a few months since PS3 launched, and now they are taking stuff out? Any company that starts "defeaturing" a product while not changing the pricepoint should be seriously questioned. This "business decision" was made in spite of the customer and only stands to benefit Sony. Oh, and I highly doubt these savings will go towards future products/enhancements--how can it when it's only reducing the bleeding of a console that is being sold at a considerable loss?

Personally, I don't see backwards compatibility as a big deal, since PS2 game owners are also PS2 console owners. Sure, having 2 consoles to play all your games is not as elegant, but it works far better, and you can extend the life of that fancy BluRay drive. My problem is that Sony is pulling parts out after the fact. If emulation hardware was too expensive to make the PS3 profitable in the first place(or less of a loss, in this case), then don't have it at all. Think of all the time and effort they spent on this hardware, and now they aren't even going to use it in several markets. Just how long did Sony think they could sell such an expensive product for a loss? This decision should have been made long before release, IMO.


RE: Immoral
By Moishe on 2/26/2007 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the removal off EE-GS is definitely not a good business move, but I don't think it's immoral.

The PS3 from start to finish has been a joke and i'm sure Sony will pay the price. If I were european and a console gamer, I would not buy it. I am neither though.


RE: Immoral
By treesloth on 2/27/2007 3:44:43 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know much about how consoles are sold. I don't own one and don't like playing on them, so please pardon my ignorance. Did Sony promise a certain level of backwards compatibility or did people assume it? As much as I truly despise Sony (for non-console game reasons...) they can only be held responsible for their own words.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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