Sony PSP: Frustratingly Beautiful

And Yet It's A Game Console

Introduced by Sony at the E3 in Los Angeles two years ago as the "Walkman of the 21st century," the PSP remains a portable game console above all. So let's move on to the games section of this article! Before looking at the first titles available at the US launch of the machine, let's first see what the PSP hardware is capable of...

The 3D performance of the unit falls somewhere between that of a PS1 and a PS2. Scale that quality down to the size of the screen, add the fact that that screen is exceptional, and you get graphics that are unbelievable for a portable console. A major leap forward has been made here, and the results are simply "to die for". The image is sharp and detailed, with perfectly fluid animation. Real 3D, mapping, texture filtering, dynamic lighting... welcome portable gaming to the modern world! In certain games, like Ridge Racer, you feel like you're playing a DirectX 9 PC title in miniature, and the smaller size greatly flatters the game. In short, aside from the reflections, it's perfect. Developers, have at it.

Small But Muscular

The PSP is built around a single MIPS R4000 32 bit microprocessor using a 90 nm copper fabrication process. The clock frequency is 333 MHz and the maximum bus speed 166 MHz. To improve the console's battery life, these frequencies adapt to suit needs.

The processor is divided into two parts. The first, called the Game Processing Unit (GPU), includes the graphics engine and I/O management (USB, Memory Stick, IrDA, and so forth). The second is called the Media Processing Unit (MPU). It includes the H.264 hardware compression and decompression accelerator, and also the VME (Virtual Mobile Engine). The VME is an entirely configurable module that adapts to audio and video demands. The onboard memory for the processor is called eDRAM, and there is 4 MB of it; half is used by the GPU and the other half by the MPU. In terms of pure 3D performance, the PSP claims 35 million polygons per second and a pixel fill rate of 664 million pixels per second.

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