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Sony plans to launch Linux PlayStation 2 in U.S.

PC World

By Douglas F. Gray

SAN JOSE, Calif. (IDG) -- Sony Computer Entertainment plans to launch a Linux-enabled version of its PlayStation 2 in the U.S. market, an executive from the company said Monday.

In the opening keynote at the Rambus Developer Forum here, Shin'ichi Okamoto, senior vice president and chief technical officer, said that although he couldn't provide a U.S. release date yet, "we'll be able to announce it soon."

A kit allowing the PlayStation 2 to run Linux was announced for the Japanese market in May, with a launch scheduled for June. At that time, company executives had not solidified plans for a U.S. launch of the kit. INFOCENTER
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"We are preparing the finalized Linux kit for the worldwide market," Okamoto said.

Rambus boosts play

During the presentation, another Sony employee demonstrated Linux running on the PlayStation 2 platform, running the X-Windows graphical user interface. Show attendees were also shown demonstrations of upcoming applications. They included a word processing program, a spreadsheet program, and an MP3 player running on the system.

Okamoto also gave accolades to conference host Rambus, saying that the memory company was one of the most important contributors to the design and manufacture of the PlayStation 2.

"We defined the main application on the PlayStation 2 as MPEG-2 (video) decoding," he said. "The solution was dual-channel RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic RAM) because MPEG-2 decoding for high-definition images is very heavy." Each PlayStation 2 uses 32MB of RDRAM.

Rambus was also instrumental in helping Sony boost bandwidth from 130MB per second on the first PlayStation to 3.2GB per second in the PlayStation 2, Okamoto said.

Rambus also provided assistance in areas including technical consultations, package design, hardware design, and system debugging, he said.

Competition lurks

The Playstation 2 originally shipped last fall in the United States. Sony has released add-ons to expand the console's capabilities since then.

However, the company faces new and formidable competition this fall from console veteran Nintendo as well as newcomer Microsoft. Both the Nintendo Gamecube and Microsoft's Xbox are scheduled to ship in November.


• Rambus Developer Forum

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