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General Information


The PlayStation 2 is the second video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment after the worldwide triumph of the PlayStation. When it was released in 2000, the PlayStation 2 was supposed to be a little revolution in the home entertainment, thanks to its multimedia capabilities. The console can be obviously used to play games, but it can also read DVD movies, normal CDs and games designed for its older sister, the PsOne. This last feature has been fundamental for the marketing strategy of Sony Computer Entertainment. Having a backward compatible system with the PsOne was like building a bridge between the new system and an existing audience of dozens of millions of players already playing on a PsOne, a connection that gave the PlayStation 2 an enormous advantage over its competitors.

A look at the PS2

The power of the PS2 lies into its peculiar 128 bit CPU, the so-called "Emotion Engine"; its frequency clock is about 300 MHz (while the Dreamcast's CPU, the Hitachi SH-4, runs at "only" 200 MHz). All its components work at 128 bit (while the Dreamcast's SH-4 works only in part at 128 bit).

The name of the processor, mostly a smart idea of the marketing gurus at Sony, should suggest that the EE could theoretically handle models able to recreate human expressions in a 3D real time environment. The main CPU is supported by a Graphic Synthesizer which runs at 150 MHz, with 4MB of embedded VRAM and a bus bandwidth of 48GB per second. The main system memory consists of 32MB Direct Rambus DRAM.



The PlayStation 2.

With the vertical stand, the PS2 looks like a black monolyth.

If you hate numbers, and you just want to have an idea of the power of the new PlayStation, we can say that the Emotion Engine can elaborate a number of operations per second fifteen times superior to a Pentium 2 and two-three times superior to a Pentium 3 with a frequency clock of 733 MHz. Without any graphic effect, the PS2 can show, theoretically, 75 million polygons per second; anyhow, using all the effects of last generation games, this beauty can still render about 20 million polygons per second against the 3 millions of the Dreamcast and the 360000 of the old, good PsOne. Like it happens with most video game consoles, the first generations of games for the PlayStation 2 used just a portion of the machine's power, mostly because developers need time to learn and master programming on new systems. There are exceptions: Metal Gear Solid 2, published by Konami in 2001, remains one of the most visually impressive games available for PlayStation 2.
The PlayStation 2 supports Dolby 5.1 and DTS (Digital Theatre Sound). Games, DVDs and even audio CDs benefit from these audio technologies, if you have the right equipment. However, the PlayStation 2 supports Dolby 5.1 and DTS in games only during cutscenes. For more information about PlayStation 2 audio technologies, read our DVD & Audio page.

For a detailed table of PlayStation 2 technical specifications go here.



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