March 20, 2006
Sony confirmed rumors that the PlayStation 3 won’t be released until later this year last Wednesday, saying that the gaming console will debut simultaneously in Europe, Asia, and North America this November.
The PS3 was originally slated to arrive on the market this spring, but Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi said the launch has been delayed because of copyright issues associated with the system’s Blu-ray disk drive. According to The Wall Street Journal, copyright-protection technology that was supposed to be finished by September of last year will not be completed until April.
Games for the PS3 will be created according to the Blu-ray standard. Blu-ray storage capacities start at 25 Gbytes for a single-layer disk and increase to 50 Gbytes for a dual-layer disk. A four-layer disk that can hold 100 Gbytes is currently in development as well (see Digital ICs/DSP Editor Dave Bursky's "Highlights from CES, Part 3" ED Online 11972).
Sony said it expects to release 1 million PS3s in November, and will continue at 1 million per month until March 2007. But industry watchdogs say that won’t be nearly enough to meet demand for the successor to PS2.
Electronic Design Analysis
While a number of consumer electronics manufacturers recently announced that they would soon debut their first Blue-ray offerings, Bursky said there have been some issues with the technology that may explain why Sony delayed releasing the PS3. He said that during limited production runs the technology seemed to work, but that security issues surfaced during the manufacturing stage.
It would seem likely, then, Bursky said, that Sony is waiting on chips that contain the security algorithm for the PS3’s Blue-ray disk drive. But even though the company says the copyright-protection issues will be resolved by April, there will be a lag time from the time the technology is finalized to when it is put into production.
"The encryption scheme hasn’t been finalized," Bursky said. "No content provider wants to put something on the street until this is secure."
Whether Sony acknowledges it or not, the PS3 will in large part determine the success of Blue-ray. With more than 100 million gamers around the world vying for the new gaming device, the debut of the PS3 will undoubtedly be an indicator of that success. And with HD-DVD lurking in the corner, manufacturers of Blu-ray products have got to get it right for the technology to become the next optical storage standard.
Blu-ray Disc Association