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Sony PSP developer interview (Part 3) - UMD Boot-Up Time
Download PSP Games for Emulator and Sony PSP consoles!

Today, in the final instalment of our PSP developer interview series, the head of Sony's Network System Development Section, Mr Izumi Kawanishi, discusses the PSP's boot-up time, saved data management and network functionality.

The previous instalments in the interview can be found at: Part 1 and Part 2

Mr Izumi Kawanishi

  • Head, Network System Development Section, Research and Development Division, Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Key figure in development of hardware for Playstation 2, Playstation Portable and other systems at Sony Computer Entertainment


Q: Regarding the UMD, what level of shock and vibration can it tolerate?

Kawanishi: Internally, there is a mechanism to cache a certain amount of data while reading. It is similar to the anti-skip mechanisms that aleady exist in current products. While playing a game, the UMD is not always spinning; it can be controlled by software so there will be continuous read/pause operations.

Q: Getting back to the UMD - there isn't a cover on the read section on the reverse side and one section is completely exposed. Will the production discs be the same? Will the discs be OK?

Kawanishi: The production discs are the same. DVD and other media are already handled in an uncovered state. It will be OK.

Q: Can the UMD be manufactured in a similar way to DVDs?

Kawanishi: Yes, that' right. The UMD can be manfactured without the need to change much infrastructure. As a result, it can be mass-produced at a cost that doesn't differ that much from DVD.

Q: What happens if data cannot be read?

Kawanishi: For most game software, it will try and re-read the data so, as long as the disk is not badly damaged, it should be OK.

Q: For example, you shouldn't eject the UMD during game play should you?

Kawanishi: Of course, we don't want you to do that but, if you did, there are counter-measures implemented. The cover of the UMD drive can basically be opened anytime but, if the UMD is removed, we can deal with it through software. The Playstation and Playstation 2 also have that kind of software mechanism to deal with the the disc being removed. For example, if you open the tray of the Playstation 2 during a game, in most cases, the game can be resumed if you close the tray again.

How long does the UMD take to start up?

Kawanishi: It takes about the same amount of time as the Playstation 2, I think.

Q: When you considered the concept of viewing movies from UMD, I'm sure you also considered that some people would like to be able to record to UMD. Have you given any thought to a standard, or the sales of an external drive, for that?

Kawanishi: That's not part of our thinking. The UMD standard is being advanced as a read-only standard.

(C)2004 Sony ComputerEntertainment Inc. All rights reserved.


(C)2004 Sony ComputerEntertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Q: Given that the UMD is read-only, where will saved game data be recorded?

Kawanishi: On Memory Stick. If there is no Memory Stick, game data cannot be saved. The reduced-size "Memory Stick DUO", in both normal and high-speed "PRO" types, is supported. If you are only going to save data, it is not necessary to have MagicGate support.

Q: Until now, the ability to save game data on a generic memory type was probably not the established practice for game devices. This was probably due to uneasiness related to the fact that it would be easier for data to be tampered with. What sort of strategies does Sony Computer Entertanment have in place for that?

Kawanishi: Yes, we have measures in place to deal with it by default.

Q: What about when the PSP and a PC are connected via USB?

Kawanishi: If you connect the PSP to a PC via USB, the Memory Stick will be recognised by the PC as a mass-storage device and you can write directly to the Memory Stick. For example, you can do things such as write JPEG images to the Memory Stick and then view them on the PSP.

Q: Will it be possible to copy game data saved on a Memory Stick to a PC for storage?

Kawanishi: Yes, that will be possible. There are two reasons for that - one is that we want to protect game data. The other is, because the media is generic, you might want to use or copy other data, such as JPEG image files, from a PC. Our thinking is to support both types of use.

For example, things like a specific character or data, you want to be able to easily take them anywhere, don't you? Memory Stick can be used for those types of things as well.

Q: What about, for example, downloading data from a network via the wireless LAN, writing it to a Memory Stick and then running it - game demos could be distributed this way, I think - will that sort of thing be possible?

Kawanishi: It's technically possible. However, we want to promote UMD first, so software will be released on UMD in the beginning.


Q: I'm sure you held discussions with game developers, where there any specifications that they particularly wanted?

Kawanishi: Yes, wireless LAN was particularly important. Also, things like the easiness of game development. After all, if you pursue those sorts of things, you will want to make good games (laughs). The game manufacturers certainly didn't say, "it's portable, so it's OK if the specs are a little low." We wanted to answer their requests as we want to quickly pursue better and better things. On the other hand, because it's a mobile device, easy and fun games are also OK and we hope that content will increase due to that.

Q: I'm sure there was a lot of spirited discussion but what was the reasoning behind the decision to go with IEEE 802.11b?

Kawanishi: It's the most widely supported standard and that's why we adopted it.

Q: Is it possible to access the PSP from a wireless router?

Kawanishi: There should no problems in particular with connecting to wireless routers or access points in homes.

Q: A question concerning game development, will it be possible to make MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games?

Kawanishi: That should pose no problems. Network games that connect to standard networks can be developed in the same way as for the Playstation 2.

Q: What were the reasons for wanting to include network functionaility?

Kawanishi: That was our thinking from the start. We considered it necessary functionality to have as a method of communication.

Thankyou very much for your time.

Until now, not much information on the PSP (Playstation Portable) had been released but it appears that hardware development is complete and more progress has been made than was thought, including in the area of software development. With sales set to begin by year's end, the PSP is certainly a piece of hardware that will continue to capture our attention.


Sony PSP Developer Interview

Part 1
- Hardware design finalised

Part 2
- PSP LCD size and beauty were critical
- Battery life under final adjustment

Part 3
- PSP UMD game boot-up time of same order as PS2
- PC management of MemoryStick saved data possible
- Network connections? - no problem