This afternoon, in Los Angeles, California, the PlayStation 3 era officially began as the system was introduced to the press in a pre-E3 press conference.

The “bad news” is that anxious PlayStation fans are still going to have to wait awhile, as the new PlayStation was confirmed for a 2006 launch, instead of late this year to counter Microsoft’s XBOX360, as some sources had hinted recently. There is also a mystery surrounding the potential cost of the system, as pricing details were not discussed.

There is, however, lots of good news to report about the next PlayStation. For starters, the Cell processor specifications are jaw-dropping. Listen to this: the processor will run at a lightning-fast 3.2 gigahertz, with a mindbending 2.18 teraflops of overall performance. Wow. The Cell will also sport two separate caches of RAM: 256MB of XDR main RAM, which will run at 3.2 gigahertz… and then 256MB of GDDR VRAM at 700 megahertz.

We also have information regarding the PlayStation 3’s graphics processor, which has been dubbed the RSX, or Reality Synthesizer. The RSX will be capable of 128-bit pixel precision and 1080p resolution—perfect for you HDTV owners. The RSX is said to be more powerful than two GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards—and that’s quite a feat.

What else we know is that the PlayStation 3 will indeed use the Blu-Ray media format for its games; however, the PS3 will also support almost every other media format, including CD-ROM, CD-R+W, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, and DVD+R formats. It’s also worth noting that the PS3 will be backwards compatible, supporting both PS2 and PSone games.

The PlayStation 3 will support up to seven Bluetooth controllers—which may finally dispel criticism about only supporting two controller ports up to this point—and it will have six USB slots in total, including four in the front of the unit. There will also be memory slots for the Memory Stick Duo, SD memory, and compact flash memory. It’s also worth noting that there will be support for a detachable hard drive.

We have our high-level PSXE staff in Los Angeles covering E3, and we’ll be hearing more about the PlayStation 3, its games, its firepower, and a lot more as we grind through this very busy week.

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