At CES, Sony announced that it was getting into the game streaming business with PlayStation Now. The new service will purportedly allow people to play PS1, PS2 and PS3 games on their PS4, PS Vita, tablets and smartphones via an Internet connection. Now more details are emerging about the service and it looks like Sony had to get a little creative to get PlayStation Now up and running.
Digital Foundry reports that Sony has created custom PS3 hardware for use with the PlayStation Now service. It appears that Sony attempted to run PlayStation Now off of standard retail PS3 retail units, but found that it was impossible to do so. The size of the units combined with the amount of power needed to operate them proved insurmountable.
With standard retail units out of the question, what was Sony to do? According to the report, the company built custom PS3 hardware that houses eight custom console units into a single rack server. In other words, they placed eight PS3 motherboards into a single rack server to solve both their space and power issues.
Beyond fixing its space and power issues, Digital Foundry notes the PS3 hardware helps Sony solve the latency issues that affects nearly every streaming service. With game streaming services, the operators have to reduce latency to a point that's nearly indistinguishable from the input latency that occurs naturally with consoles. While an Internet connection is never going to provide the kind of response times that you get with an actual console, the newly redesigned hardware should hopefully help Sony get awfully close.
It should go without saying, but Sony's new PS3 hardware will never be available to consumers. It's reported existence is interesting though as it shows Sony is dedicated to making game streaming work. While others have come before it, none have ever truly been successful for a number of reasons. With PlayStation Now, Sony could have the first commercially successful game streaming service, but that's only if its custom hardware can stand up to the task.
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