With the PlayStation 4 officially announced, it's easy to forget what came before it as gamers everywhere are hyped for the next big console. The PlayStation 3, released in 2006, was undoubtedly the most powerful gaming console of the last generation. It looks like Sony will be following that same path with the PS4 but for now, let's take a look at how the PS3 hardware holds up.
In the most basic terms it is estimated that the Playstation 3 is roughly 35 times more powerful than its older brother the Playstation 2, the big reason for this huge leap in “power” was revealed by Sony to be there Cell Processor that was making the Playstation 3 this technical powerhouse.
The Cell is the work of SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment) IBM and Toshiba three heavyweights no doubt. In fact the Playstation 3 was the very first video game console to use the Cell, it is speculated that Nintendo will be using Cell technology in the upcoming Wii U console. Clocking in at a very impressive 3.2ghz the Cell processor really does fire a rocket behind the Playstation 3.
One feature that in a way is actually quite impressive but also one of the downfalls of the Playstation 3 is in regards to the consoles ram. Playstation 3 has 256mb of system ram and an additional 256mb of video ram. This is perhaps the biggest downfall of the Playstation 3 the split ram. Sony themselves have said that once a game starts using ram there is no way that the console can get it back. It is kind of unfair to compare the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as truth be told they are both built quite differently, but it is fair to say that the Xbox 360 makes much better use of the ram it has than the Playstation 3. Its not as if the Xbox 360 has loads more ram either it just makes better use of what it has.
Cross game voice chat, this is one feature that even Microsoft themselves will have to admit they did not think would be as popular as it is. However because of the way that games use the ram of the Playstation 3 it is absolutely impossible for the Playstation 3 to offer cross game chat. To some gamers this really is not a huge issue, but to most gamers once you have sampled cross game chat and have the ability to talk to a buddy while playing a totally different game than they are playing, then you really do think its a cool feature. There had been talk for some time that Sony were working on a way to make cross game chat available, until they said there was no way to go back and make this happen. To be fair there is no way that Sony could have know just how much people would want this cross game chat but they have made amends with the Playstation Vita, which has more ram and will offer Sony gamers the chance to have cross game chat.
While there is no doubt that the Playstation 3 is one powerful machine, it has also been said by numerous developers that it is actually quite hard to program for. This is due to the Cell processor and the exotic insides that the Playstation 3 has. If a developer really takes the time to get to grips with the hardware then the results are absolutely staggering, sadly only a handful of developers have taken this approach. Some games 2011’s Skyrim from Bethesda for example really struggle and Bethesda themselves have admitted that they knew there would be problems before the game was even released. To the credit of Bethesda they are trying the best they can to fix the problems but the lack of knowledge of the hardware of the Playstation 3 is really showing especially in comparison to the Xbox 360 version of Skyrim.
With the Playstation 4 right around the corner it is very exciting to think of all the possibilities for what developers will do with the hardware. If you're interested in reading about the PlayStation 4 specs and what the future of gaming will look like, you can check out the official PS4 Experts PS4 Specs page. Sony has also corrected one major flaw that the PlayStation 3 had: the difficulty in programming for it. In fairness some of the blame has to be put at the developers for not taking the time to learn. If you look at the very first Playstation and its rival the Sega Saturn, one of the things that really went in Sony’s favor was that the original Playstation was very easy to make games for. Sega’s Saturn on the other hand was very difficult for developers to make games for and it really did show. Sony did so many things right with the Playstation 3 and they really wanted the console to be this technical powerhouse and that is admirable but with the PlayStation 4, they have succeeded in not only making a graphical powerhouse but one that is easy to develop for. That's a win/win situation for both Sony and gamers everywhere.