It’s been an interesting week for news surrounding Sony and the future of their PSP series of handhelds. The PSP phone (currently untitled) was revealed online in an article over at engadget, in which we covered on Wednesday, and now Kotaku are also reporting that the PSP2 – the true successor to the original PSP, will be loosing its UMD drive.
Sources informing the site say that the PSP2 will be going down the same digital distribution route as the existing PSPgo, with software being stored on memory sticks of some kind. However, retail releases will not be discarded – Sony currently are undecided on what storage solution they will take. My best guess is some kind of small memory card, perhaps something like what the NDS already uses but with much greater storage capacity. Either way a costly disc reading mechanism is out for sure.
Interestingly, the machine is also said to feature a whopping 1GB of RAM, which is pretty huge for a handheld device. And sources state that we could be looking at something approaching similar Xbox 360 levels of graphical quality with games on the system, though I expect with obvious downgrades in certain areas. Processing power certainly won't be a match.
In addition it’s not as if multimedia use requires such extravagant amounts of memory. Graphics rendering on the other hand, is a vastly different beast, especially at high resolutions. Ultimately though, the overall level of performance is going to be more dictated by battery life, cooling, and overall power consumption than anything else, and that does rule out equaling current home console hardware in a mobile device. The power draw on anything actually delivering 360-esque levels of performance would be far too high for a handheld, although that doesn't mean something similar in terms of overall looks can't be achieved with less.
There was no mention of what kind of CPU/GPU combo is expected to show up in the machine, although a high-end Imagination Technologies Power VR SGX variant is hotly rumoured to be the prime candidate.
Over recent months there have been a variety of rumours surrounding the system, from the increasingly likely inclusion of touch-sensitive controls and a HD resolution display, to signs pointing at a slim-lined version of the traditional dual analogue control set up also being part of the system’s feedback inspired design. However, it was the removal of UMD that was the most certain – it was almost guaranteed given the format’s poor performance and lacklustre uptake in general.
With certainly more to follow next year, it probably won’t be all that long until Sony finally decide to unveil the somewhat murky curtain that the PSP2 has been hiding behind over the last year or so. Before then however, we expect more ‘off-record’ stuff to surface.