Sony to release Linux Playstation 2 in U.S.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc will 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. "We are preparing the finalized Linux kit for the worldwide market," Okamoto said.

During the presentation, another Sony employee demonstrated Linux running on the PlayStation 2 platform, running the X-Windows graphical user interface. During the demonstration, show attendees were shown applications including a word processing program, a spreadsheet program, and an MP3 player running on the system.

Okamoto also gave accolades to conference host Rambus Inc., 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 32M bytes of RDRAM.

Rambus was also instrumental in helping Sony boost bandwidth from 130M bytes per second on the first PlayStation to 3.2G bytes 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.

The Rambus Developer Forum, in San Jose, California, takes place on Monday and Tuesday. More information can be found on the Web at http://www.rambus.com/rdf/rdf.html.

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Douglas F. Gray

Computerworld
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