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PlayStation 3 set to make its debut ahead of E3

Confirmation of pre-E3 showing adds fuel to March rumours - but could mean mid-May.

Sony's next-generation home console will be revealed to the world before the E3 show in Los Angeles this May, representatives of the company have confirmed, with rumours strongly hinting at a late March unveiling.

In the wake of the official public debut of the Cell microprocessor which will power the console earlier this week, speculation has been rife about Sony's plans for revealing more precise details of the platform itself.

Now representatives of SCEA have confirmed to US website GameSpot that the company "will have an event to premiere [its] next-generation system" ahead of the E3 show in three months time.

While Sony has revealed previously that the console will definitely be at E3 in some form, it's been widely rumoured that the unveiling would come before then - with a Sony roadmap from last year suggesting that it would come near the end of the firm's financial year in late March.

That timescale still seems very possible - the company has revealed that the unveiling will not be at GDC next month, but a special Tokyo event to show off the console's specifications in late March would be in keeping with the firm's past approach on such announcements.

However, it's important to note that a pre-E3 event to premiere the system could mean just that - since Sony, along with rival platform holders Nintendo and Microsoft, traditionally holds an event in Los Angeles in the days before E3, and used this event to premiere the PlayStation Portable.

Both Microsoft and Nintendo are expected to make announcements concerning their next-generation plans at E3.