In the quest to guess what's going to go inside the PlayStation 3, the most useful sources of information so far (aside from Sony's own rumblings about the Cell microprocessor) are the companies contracted to make memory chips for the console.
Once again this week the memory makers appear to have done a convincing leaky sieve impression, with strong rumours suggesting that they have revealed the amount of RAM which the PS3 will contain, and giving an idea of what volume of consoles Sony hopes to manufacture in the first year.
Online sources today report that the console will incorporate four XDR-DRAM chips, for a total of 256MB of main RAM - an eight-fold increase over the 32MB found in the PlayStation 2. The memory bus speed is also significantly faster than the PS2's.
Three memory suppliers working on XDR-DRAM chips are Elpida, Toshiba and Samsung, all of which are expected to supply chips for the PS3 - although only Elpida has been announced as an official supplier so far.
As reported earlier, the three manufacturers will begin bulk production of the RAM in early 2005, and expect to produce some 20 million XDR-DRAM chips within that year - meaning that Sony could potentially build five million units of the PS3 by the end of 2005, enough for a reasonably sized launch (over a million units) in all three major territories.
The yield for 2006 is expected to be in the region of 30 million chips - enough to build 7.5 million PS3s. This is a surprisingly low figure, however - given the speed with which Sony shipped PlayStation 2s in the first year of the console's lifespan. Surely it will hope for more than 12.5 million PS3s on the market by the end of 2006, assuming a late 2005 launch?
Could it be that Sony's ambitious technical specifications for the PS3, featuring leading-edge RAM and CPU technologies, may restrict supplies of the console - or does the giant manufacturer have an ace up its sleeve?