PS3 is Linux 'supercomputer'

Says Sony's Ken Kutaragi.

Sony Computer Entertainment boss Ken Kutaragi has claimed that the PlayStation 3 is being positioned as a supercomputer capable of running multiple operating systems, with the Linux system to be pre-installed on the machine's hard drive.

Interviewed by Japanese website PC Impress Watch, Kutaragi lashed out at Nintendo and Microsoft for defining their systems purely as toys or game consoles, and said that PS3 will be sold as a "supercomputer".

In order to accomplish that, the system will ship with the Linux operating system on its hard drive - although it's not yet clear whether that drive will actually ship with the system as part of the default configuration, or as an optional extra.

Kutaragi claims that the PS3 will be capable of running multiple operating systems, and could in theory run Linux, Windows and Mac OS X together. He also mentioned Lindows, a variety of Linux designed to emulate the ease of use of Windows, and alluded to a "new OS" which could be the Linux-based system which Sony is rumoured to be working on with a number of other Japanese companies as a potential competitor to Windows, especially in the media space.

This isn't the first time that Sony has tried to position one of its systems as a personal computer rather than a console - the firm tried to make the same claim about the PlayStation 2, in a move which was largely seen as an attempt to win lower import duty from the European Union.

However, this time around, Kutaragi seems serious about the system's computer-like capabilities - citing applications such as photo and video editing as possible functions for the system's Linux operating system software.

Such functionality would be a logical evolution of the type of software which ships with Sony's PSX media centre systems, and would be an unsurprising addition to the box given the company's ambition in the home media space.

It's an area where Sony seems likely to face competition not only from Microsoft, but also from Apple - which commentators believe is likely to make a bold move into the living room with a new product line based on the popular and low-cost Mac Mini computers, and powered by Intel processors.

It has emerged that Sony did indeed approach Apple with a view to encouraging the computer maker to include the Cell microprocessor in its future systems, but according to sources close to the Japanese company quoted by the New York Times, Apple boss Steve Jobs was "disappointed" in the Cell processor and opted for the Intel deal instead, although whether technical or commercial reasons were foremost in that decision is still unknown.

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