The Playstation 2 is the next generation gaming system from Sony who have dominated the market since the release of the PSOne in 1995. The PS2 is several times more powerful the the, now dead, Sega Dreamcast, although early software hardly shows the systems power with games such as Dead Or Alive 2 looking inferior to the Dreamcast version. However, as with all new consoles, the software is rapidly improving and games such as Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty are beginning to show the systems true power. Enough of the games as this is the hardware page, and this is where you can find all the Playstation 2 specs...
128-bit Emotion Engine CPU
The 128 bit emotion engine is the brains behind the Playstation 2. Much of the early games poor performance can be put down to the fact that no games yet are using the 2 Vector Processing units which speed up calculations considerably.
One of the biggest drawback of this powerful graphics chip is a total lack of anti-ailising which has caused early games to have a jagged look to them. There are other tricks that can be used to avoid this situation but it will take developers time to get it all right.
SPU2 + CPU
Surprisingly the Dreamcast has a more capable sound system with 64 channels. In reality though the Playstation 2 sound chip has more then enough grunt to make the machine sound great. One new feature never seen on a consle before, and brought about by the addition of a DVD player, is the optical output to allow 5.1 dolby digital surround sound. This feature can also be enabled for use in games although it is uncertain how many developers will use it due to the extra expense.
This I/O chip is actually the CPU from the original Playstation. Because of it's inclusion it allows the Playsation 2 to play Playstaion 1 games. These Playstation 1 games are slightly enhanced with imporved graphics and better loading times.
The Playstation 2 includes 32MB RAMBUS RAM. In effect this unified RAM allows developers to determine where the RAM is best utilised. If there is more sound requirements then more RAM can be dedicated to handling the RAM. One major drawback of the Playstation 2 is the limited amount of VRAM which limits the amount of textures the system can have. In fact the Dreamcast games have an edge in this area due to the 8MB VRAM on that system.
MPEG2 Video Decoding Processor
This is the component in the Playstation 2 which enables you to watch DVD movies in all thier digital glory. This decoder also allows game developers to have straming video in the backgound of a game while the polygon characters remain in the foreground.
The Playstation 2 has a 4X DVD drive which operates at the same speed as a 24X CD-ROM. Even though the system is loading many times more data then the original Playstation into RAM there is little difference in load times due to the faster reading speed of the DVD drive.
Also known as "Firewire" to Mac comuter users this is an extremely fast port, similar to USB but with one big difference. This connection can also supply power to the peripheral which could include printers, cameras, scanners, modems or even speakers.
Any PC user should know what a USB port is. Basically it is a connection point for peripherals with moderatly fast connection speed. Already there is talk that you will be able to hook up a USB modem to the Playstation 2 to begin online gaming at or near lauch.