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Sony to unveil PlayStation 3 early '05

Then hands-on demos at E3

Sony will unveil the PlayStation 3 early next year shortly after its PlayStation Portable (PSP) goes on a sale in Japan and just before the handheld console ships in the US and Europe, the consumer electronics giant revealed yesterday.

While most press reports have centred on Sony Computer Entertainment chief Ken Kutaragi's comment that PS3 will make a public appearance at next May's E3 games industry show, it's clear from the Sony roadmap that the console - simply dubbed 'next system' will debut well into the second half of Sony's financial year.

FY 2004 ends on 31 March 2005, putting PS3's unveiling sometime in the January/February 2005 timeframe - well ahead of E3, which takes place in the second month of Sony's 2005 financial year.

As expected, PSP will ship in Japan mid-H2 of FY 2004, ie. next December. The roadmap puts the US and European release in March 2005, again as anticipated.

While the PSP's sale dates are on the map, no such date is provided for PS3. Interestingly, version one of the PS3 software development kit (SDK), doesn't appear to be scheduled to arrive until April 2005, followed by version two early in the second half of Sony's 2005 financial year (ie. October 2005).

Sony's roadmap reaches to the end of FY 2006 - March 2007 - and we expect the PS3 to be launched well before then, probably March/April 2006 in Japan and December 2006 for US/Europe.

Sony has already begun sampling its 65nm Cell micro-processor, which will power the PS3, and has pledged to ship workstations based on the wonder chip by the end of the year.

The E3 showing will take place alongside the first appearance of 'Revolution', Nintendo's next-generation console, a move Sony's rival has already confirmed. Microsoft may be planning to unveil Xbox 2 later this year, at September's X04 European industry event, according to some reports, with working models showing at next January's Consumer Electronics Show or possibly Games Developer Conference, a few months later. Either way, it's a good bet Xbox 2 will also be on display at E3. ®

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