Sony's PlayStation 3 will not appear until 2006 at the earliest, the company tacitly confirmed today.
The company's joint announcement with IBM and Toshiba that the PS3's Cell processor, will be detailed at February 2005's International Solid State Circuits Conference focuses on the chip's features. However, it also notes that Sony plans to "commercialise" Cell-based products in 2006 and confirms that Cell will be used in the company's "next-generation computer entertainment system".
That timeframe follows IBM's plan to begin limited Cell production at its East Fishkill, New York 300mm wafer fabrication facility in the second half of 2005. In the past, IBM has pointed to an H1 2005 production start.
It's a schedule that's by no means at odds with what Sony has said so far. Cell is due to be unveiled mid-Q1 2005, and the PS3 is expected to be formally announced before the end of Q1 2005, when Sony's 2005 fiscal year comes to a close. You wouldn't expect Sony to talk about PS3 until Cell was complete, so those two events are clearly in sync.
PS3 is expected to make its first public appearance at the E3 show next May, just after Sony begins shipping first-generation console software development kits (SDKs), which are likely to be software-only offerings given IBM's production scheduled. Sony's roadmap calls for a second-generation SDK to appear October 2005, which will presumably ship alongside early hardware, again given IBM's H2 production run.
Such a schedule would give developers a good shot at offering software for the console early to mid-2006, which is when the console is likely to appear.