How can the PSP2 be as powerful as a PS3?

Sony, by way of a press that in no way likes to inflate such claims, is saying that the PSP2 should be roughly equivalent in processing power to the PlayStation 3 and be capable of games similar to those developed for the launch of that console.

Looking at the sleek lines of a PSP and the bulk of the original PS3, and even the new PSP3 slim isn't that slim, its a big claim to swallow. Still, lets take a look.

The original PS3 had a 3.2GHz CPU with six synergy cores (plus one for the OS and one disabled). Plus 256Mb RAM and 256Mb Video RAM, plus the RSX graphics chip. It launched in 2006.

[UPDATE] Battery life - having just seen the Xperia Play with a 1500mha battery, which is a little larger than most Android phones and given the original PSP came with an 1800mha battery that dropped to 1200mha for later models, I guess power management has improved enough for the PSP2 to manage for a few hours on at a 2000mha battery or less and given Nintendo is only claiming 3 hours for the 3DS, anything around that will be considered fair game.

In comparison, the original PSP was launched in 2004, runs at 333MHz (after Sony unlocked it from the original 222MHz) and had 32Mb of RAM. Now, I could dive into the fill rates, bus speeds and so on, but got bored of that years ago, when ATI and Nvidia launched so many graphics chips a year, it made your head spin. So I'll try and concentrate on the basics.

Rumour is the PSP2 has a four core Cell processor, so is only a third down in power on the PS3. It should also be noted that most early PS3 games did NOT use all of the cores as developers got to grips with the system. This matches up against one claim that the PSP2 will be more than half as powerful as a PS3. So, we're halfway there.

Size wise, the original Cell was a 90 nanometer part. Since then it has been shrunk to 65 and 45 nanometers (found in the PS3 Slim edition). Whatever the PSP2 uses, it will consume a lot less power than the original and the size of the processor is now small enough to fit in a portable. Heat may still be an issue in the confines of a handheld and you have to wonder if there will be a red ring of death syndrome?

For the extra performance, we have to look at the output, even at best the rumoured 5" screen will only be running 720p HD, and if there is HD-Out to a TV then upscaling should be easy to achieve.

So, the processors can work on more of the game content, physics AI and so on than it does wrangling textures and polygons to whatever graphics chip it uses. Finally, if the PSP2 does use a Cell processor then the engineers and developers now have almost 10 years of experience with it, Cell is now a known quantity that can be handled like a more like a house cat, than a feral beast.

Advances in coding techniques and middleware should see developers able to concentrate on the game code and not worry about fighting the system. Those improvements alone should see the PSP2 produce games on a par with the PS3 without melting the hands of the user due to heat and raw current.

Hopefully some chip details and raw numbers will be revealed on the 27th and then people smarter than me can crunch those numbers and prove to the nth decimal point just how powerful the PSP2 will be.