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Sony Talks Firmware: What's in Store for PSP and PlayStation 3


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308w ago - Version 5.0 and Version 2.5 of their respective Firmwares gave the PSP and the PS3 some much asked-for features. So what's in store for Sony's PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 consoles?

For answers, we turn to Munechika Nishida, who posted his latest Random Tracking column to Impress Watch over the weekend.

This time around, the well-connected technology writer managed to get commentary from Naoya Matsui, Koujiro Umemura, Masaki Takase, and Shinji Noda, all high ranking Sony Computer Entertainment employees directly responsible for firmware and network issues regarding the PS3 and PSP.

The column first recapped some of the major points of the recent firwmare updates, with particular attention given to the inclusion of Flash 9 support in the PS3. This was a heavily requested feature, said Matsui, with Japanese fans hoping to view videos from Nico Nico Video, a Japanese version of YouTube.

Sony has actually been working on Flash 9 support for quite some time -- as far back as late last year. To get it running on the PS3, Sony ended up customizing a separate Flash implementation that was provided to it by Adobe.

For a sense of how computationally intensive some areas of Flash 9 can be, you need only consider this little bit. According to Takase, the PS3 implementation of Flash-based playback for H.264 videos makes use of an SPU. This allows for loading up of web pages to be separate from video playback, improving framerate.

The entire web experience on the PS3 has been improved with the new firmware update. Noda cited a 2.8 times increase in Javascript speed according to Sony's own benchmarks. Takase believes PS3's Javascript performance, while not up to the level of Google Chrome, beats Internet Explorer 7.

It doesn't seem that PSP will be getting Flash 9 support for the time being. Noda explained that the PSP is extremely resource limited. Getting the full screen keyboard running was tough. This feature, incidentally, was apparently requested heavily in markets outside of Japan. Noda also mentioned fullscreen output of PSP games to televisions as being impossible to implement without hardware support.

Sony's engineers do still have things in the works for the PSP. While PSP already has screen capture support built into its development tools and accessible to game developers who chose to use it, plans call for a future firmware update to add video capture support as well.

Strangely, the PS3 took the opposite route with these Web 2.0-style features. On the PS3, video playback and upload to YouTube came first. Screen capture support was added only in the latest update. Takase detailed the screen capture support just a bit, revealing that the PS3 captures in PNG format at the full resolution of the current game and stores the images in the Photo section of the XMB.

Now let's hope we'll start seeing some games that actually use the feature!

We're going to have to leave you on a sad note here, especially if you picked up one of the early 20 gigabyte PS3 systems. Sony's new Ad-Hoc Party initiative, which allows the PSP to use the PS3 as a proxy and matching server for playing internet-based games, will, as previously announced, not be supported with the 20 gigabyte PS3 due to the lack of built-in wireless networking. Umemura added in his latest comments that it would be difficult at present to allow 20 gigabyte owners to simply attach a wireless LAN adapter via USB and use the service.

Looks 20 giggers are not invited to this party! But remember, you can always boast about your backwards compatibility!



Stay tuned for more PS3 Hacks and PS3 CFW news, follow us on Twitter and be sure to drop by the PS3 Hacks and PS3 Custom Firmware Forums for the latest PlayStation 3 scene updates and homebrew releases!

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