updated 07:30 pm EDT, Mon May 30, 2011
Sony NGP to require less corporate investment
Sony's CFO Masaru Kato gave out clues in a Memorial Day interview that the NGP would be considerably less expensive to make than earlier PlayStations. He described the handheld system as less "investment heavy" than before. Among the options mentioned to the Wall Street Journal were farming out chip manufacturing to other companies or using off-the-shelf parts.
The NGP is relatively unique for Sony in using hardware that's largely using processors that should be common elsewhere. Its main chip will be a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 not unlike NVIDIA's Kal-El, while its graphics will be Imagination's PowerVR SGX543MP4, again something likely to show up in smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Both officially and otherwise, Sony has made it clear it was hoping to keep prices down. The NGP could cost as little as $250 in Wi-Fi form and blow past the Nintendo 3DS in performance at the same price.
Sony is likely to have felt wounded by its experiences with the PS3. Its core processor, the Cell, was a joint project between Sony, IBM, and Toshiba that required a special design and assembly; the RSX graphics chip was also a custom creation from NVIDIA. Combined with early Blu-ray technology, the PS3 cost a minimum $499 and still took a loss on every system until roughly when the slim model arrived over three years after the November 2006 launch. Getting the NGP costs in check early could reduce the dependence on game sales to turn a profit and would let Sony drop the price sooner.