Sony may launch PS3 with larger hard disk capacity

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp. 6758.T said on Tuesday it is considering launching PlayStation 3 (PS3) game consoles with larger hard disk drive capacity, in a bid to cater to the needs of hardcore gamers and other heavy users.

Sony currently offers the basic version of the PS3 with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive and an advanced model with a 60-gigabyte drive in North America and Japan, but it plans to discontinue the lower-capacity PS3 in North America.

“For users who vigorously store (games and other entertainment content) in the PS3, 20-giga is probably going to be too small, and even 60-giga may not be big enough eventually,” Sony Computer Entertainment spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said.

Sony Computer Entertainment is the video game unit of Sony.

Fukuoka said, however, that potential changes to the PS3 are not limited to its hard disk drive capacity.

“We are not likely to change its core components and functions such as the Cell, RSX, Blu-ray drive and network capability. But outside that realm, addition and deletion is quite possible,” he said.

Sony packs the PS3 with its cutting-edge technology including the Cell microchip, dubbed “supercomputer on a chip,” RSX graphic processor, and Blu-ray high-definition DVD player.

The advanced functions have driven up PS3’s manufacturing costs, and Sony’s game unit is estimated to have made a loss of more than 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the year ended March 31, making the game console the biggest risk factor for Sony’s earnings growth.