Development on Sony's Cell microprocessor continues apace, with SCE boss Ken Kutaragi promising a shareholders meeting in Tokyo that demonstrations of the technology will happen within the current financial year.
In fact, rumours from within the Japanese electronics industry suggest that the first Cell chips could already be trickling off a special production line for testing purposes, with Toshiba - one of Sony's key partners in the development of the chips - currently working on the chip at its Oita production facility.
Kutaragi told shareholders at the meeting that the company would be creating a variety of experimental products during the current financial year, which ends in March 2004, to demonstrate the capabilities of Cell. This ties in with his vision for the processor, which will not only power the PlayStation 3 but will also be incorporated into a range of other devices, with mobile phones, digital cameras and televisions all listed as possible hosts for the CPU.
Sony is thought to be working on the development of an entirely new operating system to take advantage of the parallel processing and high speed networking capabilities of Cell, and this would be expected to feature on all devices powered by the processor.
Some commentators have speculated that if Cell products are being demonstrated by next March, an appearance by PlayStation 3 at E3 the following May is likely; however, going on previous track record, Sony is unlikely to use E3 2004 as a showcase for the PS3, preferring to emphasise the PlayStation 2 range and, of course, the forthcoming PlayStation Portable. An unveiling at a special event later in 2004 is a much more likely option for our first glimpse of PlayStation 3.