PSP developer interview (Part 3) - UMD Boot-Up
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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
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
UMD BOOT-UP TIME SIMILAR TO PLAYSTATION 2
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
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,
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. |
PC MANAGEMENT OF MEMORY STICK SAVED DATA
|(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
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.
NETWORK CONNECTIONS - NO PROBLEMS
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
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
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
- Hardware design finalised
- PSP LCD size and beauty were critical
- Battery life under final adjustment
- PSP UMD game boot-up time of same
order as PS2
- PC management of MemoryStick saved data possible
- Network connections? - no problem