PlayStation 3 is convex on its left side, with the PlayStation logo upright, when vertical (the top side is convex when horizontal) and has a glossy black finish. PlayStation designer Teiyu Goto stated that the Spider-Man-font-inspired logo “was one of the first elements SCEI president Ken Kutaragi decided on and the logo may have been the motivating force behind the shape of PS3”.

On March 22, 2007, SCE and Stanford University released the [email protected] software for PlayStation 3. This program allows PS3 owners to lend the computing power of their consoles to help study the process of protein folding for disease research.

Use in supercomputing

PS3’s hardware has also been used to build supercomputers for high-performance computing. Fixstars Solutions sells a version of Yellow Dog Linux for PlayStation 3 (originally sold by Terra Soft Solutions). RapidMind produced a stream programming package for PS3, but were acquired by Intel in 2009. Also, on January 3, 2007, Dr. Frank Mueller, Associate Professor of Computer science at NCSU, clustered 8 PS3s. Mueller commented that the 256 MB of system RAM is a limitation for this particular application and is considering attempting to retrofit more RAM. Software includes: Fedora Core 5 Linux ppc64, MPICH2, OpenMP v 2.5, GNU Compiler Collection and CellSDK 1.1. As a more cost-effective alternative to conventional supercomputers, the U.S. military has purchased clusters of PS3 units for research purposes. Retail PS3 Slim units cannot be used for supercomputing, because PS3 Slim lacks the ability to boot into a third-party OS.

In December 2008, a group of hackers used a cluster of 200 PlayStation 3 computers to crack SSL authentication.

In November 2010 the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) created a powerful supercomputer by connecting together 1,760 Sony PS3s which include 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers in a parallel array capable of performing 500 trillion floating-point operations per second (500 TFLOPS). As built the Condor Cluster was the 33rd largest supercomputer in the world and would be used to analyze high definition satellite imagery.

Technical specifications

The RSX ‘Reality Synthesizer’ on a PlayStation 3 motherboard

PlayStation 3 features a slot-loading 2x speed Blu-ray Disc drive for games, Blu-ray movies, DVDs, CDs and other optical media. It was originally available with hard drives of 20 and 60 GB (20 GB model was not available in PAL regions), but various sizes up to 500 GB have been made available since then. All PS3 models have user-upgradeable 2.5″ SATA hard drives.

PlayStation 3 uses the Cell microprocessor, designed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, as its CPU, which is made up of one 3.2 GHz PowerPC-based “Power Processing Element” (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs).The eighth SPE is disabled to improve chip yields. Only six of the seven SPEs are accessible to developers as the seventh SPE is reserved by the console’s operating system. Graphics processing is handled by the Nvidia RSX ‘Reality Synthesizer’, which can produce resolutions from 480i/576i SD up to 1080p HD. PlayStation 3 has 256 MB of XDR DRAM main memory and 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory for the RSX.

The system has Bluetooth 2.0 (with support for up to seven Bluetooth devices), Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 built in on all currently shipping models. Wi-Fi networking is also built-in on all but the 20 GB models, while a flash card reader (compatible with Memory Stick, SD/MMC and CompactFlash/Microdrive media) is built-in on 60 GB and CECHExx 80 GB models.

Models

PlayStation 3 has been produced in various models: the original, the Slim, and the Super Slim. Successive models have added or removed various features.

Controllers and accessories

DualShock 3 controller in hand

Numerous accessories for the console have been developed. These accessories include the wireless Sixaxis and DualShock 3controllers, the Logitech Driving Force GT, the Logitech Cordless Precision Controller, the BD Remote, the PlayStation Eyecamera, and the PlayTV DVB-T tuner/digital video recorder accessory.

At Sony’s E3 press conference in 2006, the then standard wireless Sixaxis controller was announced. The controller was based on the same basic design as the PlayStation 2’s DualShock 2 controller but was wireless, lacked vibration capabilities, had a built-in accelerometer (that could detect motion in three directional and three rotational axes; six in total, hence the name Sixaxis) and had a few cosmetic tweaks.

At its press conference at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Sony announced DualShock 3 (trademarked DUALSHOCK 3), a PlayStation 3 controller with the same function and design as Sixaxis, but with vibration capability included. Hands-on accounts describe the controller as being noticeably heavier than the standard Sixaxis controller and capable of vibration forces comparable to DualShock 2. It was released in Japan on November 11, 2007; in North America on April 5, 2008; in Australia on April 24, 2008; in New Zealand on May 9, 2008; in mainland Europe on July 2, 2008, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on July 4, 2008.

During E3 2009, Sony unveiled plans to release a motion controller later to be named PlayStation Move at GDC 2010. It was released on September 15, 2010, in Europe; September 19, 2010, in North America and October 21, 2010, in Japan.

On October 13, 2010, Sony announced an official surround sound system for PS3 through the official PlayStation YouTube channel.

The PlayStation 3 can also use DualShock 4 controller initially via USB cable, but Firmware update 4.60 enabled wireless connection.