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Encyclopedia > Sony PlayStation
The original PlayStation was produced in a light grey colour; the more recent PSOne redesign sports a smaller more rounded case.
An original PlayStation control pad. This model was later replaced by the Dual Shock.

The PlayStation (Japanese: プレイステーション) is a video game console of the 32-bit era, first produced by Sony in the 1990s. It was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the USA on September 9, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995. The console was extremely popular, spawning the so-called "PlayStation Generation". Among many other games, the PlayStation is well known for the Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Tekken, Ridge Racer, wipEout, Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Metal Gear Solid series of games. As of 18 May 2004, Sony has shipped 100 million PlayStation and PSOne consoles throughout the world. As of March 2004, there were 7,300 software titles available with cumulative software shipments of 949 million.

Nintendo and Sony's earlier co-operation in developing a CD-ROM based system (see SNES) lead to the former filing a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of the PlayStation, on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal Judge presiding over the case denied the injunction.



Sony now produces a newer redesigned version of the original console, called the PSOne, in a smaller (and curvier) case. The original PlayStation was often abbreviated to "PSX", the system's indevelopment codename, until 2003, when a new system formally named the PSX was introduced by Sony (an upgraded PlayStation 2 which includes a DVD burner, a hard drive, and digital video recorder). The PlayStation is now officially abbreviated as the "PS1" or "PSOne," although many people still abbreviate it "PSX".

A version of the PlayStation called the Net Yaroze was also produced. It is more expensive than the original PlayStation, coloured black instead of the usual gray, and most importantly, came with tools and instructions that allowed a user to be able to program PlayStation games and applications without the need for a full developers suite (which could cost many times the amount of a PlayStation). However, the Net Yaroze lacks many of the features the full developers suite provides. It is also unique in that it is the only official Sony PlayStation with no regional lockout; it will play games from any territory.

Another version called "Blue console" (as opposed to regular console units that were gray in color) was available to game developers and the press. It had double the main RAM size (4 Megabytes instead of 2 Megabytes) and a CD-ROM emulator board connected to PC. It was also able to run in-development games which lacked region coding (which would be rejected by a normal PlayStation as thought they were pirate copies). A few of these units eventually appeared for sale through somewhat dubious channels at high prices (~299 when the PlayStation itself was selling at around 99).

The installation of a modchip allows PlayStation's capabilities to be expanded. This allows unauthorized copies of games to be played, but it also allows the playing of games from other countries. Since modchips allow playing games recorded on a regular CD-ROM, it created a wave of games developed without official Sony approval, using free GNU compiler tools.


Sony's successor to the PlayStation is the more powerful PlayStation 2, which is largely compatible with its predecessor, in the sense that it can play most PlayStation games unmodified. This is done by embedding the most important parts of the PSOne inside the PlayStation 2 design, so two systems can be provided for the price of one. Similar to the emulators of today, the PlayStation 2 can emulate PlayStation games and can even alter certain factors to make them run better. The PlayStation 2 is based on a custom processor, known as the Emotion Engine, that Sony developed.

The next generation of the PlayStation is known as PlayStation 3 or PS3 and expected to be launched in 2006. The PS3 appears to be the first game console to use grid computing technology.

The PlayStation Portable (abbreviated PSP) is a handheld PlayStation for on-the-go gaming. The portable device will be available in late 2004.

The PlayStation has historical links to an abortive CD-ROM add-on to the SNES, which would have been able to include large multimedia. For various reasons, including the failure of the Sega CD, that project was cancelled.


Ridge Racer wipEout Tekken 2 Tomb Raider
Namco (1994) Sony/Psygnosis (1995) Namco (1996) Eidos/Core Design (1996)
Madden NFL 99 Metal Gear Solid Final Fantasy VIII Gran Turismo 2
EA Sports (1998) Konami (1998) Squaresoft (1999) Sony (1999)


Main CPU

R3000A-compatible (R3051) 32bit RISC chip running at 33.8688 MHz

The chip is manufactured by LSI Logic Corp with technology licensed from SGI. The chip also contains the Geometry Transformation Engine and the Data Decompression Engine.


  • Operating Performance of 30 MIPS
  • Bus Bandwidth 132 Mb/s
  • Instruction Cache 4 KB
  • Data Cache 1 KB (non associative, just 1024 bytes of mapped fast SRAM -Static Random Access Memory-)

Geometry Transformation Engine

This engine is inside the main CPU chip. It is responsible for rendering the 3D Graphics.


  • Operating Performance of 66 MIPS
  • 360,000 Flat-Shaded Polygons per second
  • 180,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second

Sony originally gave the polygon count as:

  • 1.5 Million Flat-Shaded Polygons per second
  • 500,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second

These figures were given as a ballpark figure for performance under optimal circumstances, and so are unrealistic under normal useage.

Data Decompression Engine

This engine is also inside the main CPU chip. It is responsible for decompressing images and video. Documented device mode is to read three RLE-encoded 16x16 macroblocks, run IDCT and assemble a single 16x16 RGB macroblock. Output data may be transferred directly to GPU via DMA. It is possible to overwrite IDCT matrix and some additional parameters, however MDEC internal instruction set was never documented.


  • Compatible with MPEG1 and H.261 files
  • Operating Performance of 80 MIPS
  • Directly connected to CPU Bus

Graphics Processing Unit

This chip is separate to the CPU and handles all the 2D Graphics processing.


  • Maximum of 16.7 Million Colours
  • Can handle resolutions from 256x224 to 640x480
  • Has an adjustable frame buffer
  • Unlimited Colour Lookup Tables
  • Maximum of 4000 8x8 pixel sprites with individual scaling and rotation
  • Can handle simultaneous backgrounds (for parallax scrolling)
  • Can do Flat or Gouraud shading, and texture mapping


This chip is responsible for sound processing.


  • Can handle ADPCM sources with up to 24 channels and up to 44.1 kHz sampling rate
  • Could perform digital effects including:
    • Pitch Modulation
    • Envelope
    • Looping
    • Digital Reverb
  • Could handle up to 512Kb of sampled waveforms
  • Supports MIDI instruments
  • PC file name format: .PSF




  • Two Speed, with a maximum data throughput of 300 KB/s
  • XA Compliant

See also

External links

  • Console Database (http://www.consoledatabase.com) - Sony PlayStation info
  • Unofficial Sony PlayStation FAQ (http://kontek.net/pp/technical/psx/playstat.txt) by James Dunford
  • Technical Specification (http://www.vidgames.com/ps/hardware/techspec.html/)
  • eLook PlayStation 1 Cheats (http://www.elook.org/games/cheats/ps1/)
  • PlayStation Codes and Hints (http://www.console-cheats.com/playstation/)
  • Game Infowire story on 100 million shipments (http://www.gameinfowire.com/news.asp?nid=4396/)

  Results from FactBites:
PlayStation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1193 words)
The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, USA on September 9, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995.
Sony produced a redesigned version of the original console, called the "PS One", in a smaller (and more ergonomic) case which was introduced in September 2000.
Sony's successor to the PlayStation is the PlayStation 2, which is backward compatible with its predecessor, in the sense that it can play almost every PlayStation game.
PlayStation 2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2229 words)
Sony had stopped making the older PS2 model (SCPH-5000x) sometime during the summer of 2004 to let the distribution channel empty out stock of the units.
Support for original PlayStation games was also an important selling point for the PS2, letting owners of an older system upgrade to the PlayStation 2 and keep their old software, and giving new users access to older games until a larger library was developed for the new system.
Sony released a version of the Linux operating system for the PS2 in a package that also includes a keyboard, mouse, Ethernet adapter and hard disk drive.
  More results at FactBites »



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