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An Electronic Arts exec said at a financial conference late last week that the company expected Microsoft next Xbox console to hit the market in later 2005, while Sony's PlayStation 3 to start selling about half a year afterwards, in mid-2006.

Warren Jenson, Chief Financial Officer at Electronic Arts, is quoted as told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIII Conference in the USA that the company expected the Xbox 2 and the PlayStation 3 to launch within six months of each other, in a window beginning in late 2005. EA, GameIndustry.biz web-site notes, expects to see Microsoft launching Xbox 2 for the holiday season in 2005, with the 'PS3' following no more than six months afterwards.

Sony's PlayStation 3 console is projected to be based on the set of innovative technologies by a number of companies. The next-generation console will be fuelled by the Cell processors, new and totally redesigned flavour of the Graphics Synthesizer chip, XDR DRAM memory and interfaces developed by Rambus and will use Blu-Ray discs for content distribution.

Sony said it will reveal more details on the PlayStation 3 at a premiere event in Japan on March 31, 2005. The console will also be on display at next year’s E3 confab in Los Angeles, California.

Mr. Jenson added that neither he nor EA Games had all the information about the Xbox 2 and PlayStation 3 consoles actual launch dates. Still, game developers typically hold the hand on pulse of release dates for new consoles to plan their development and business processes.

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