PlayStation 2 software is distributed on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. In addition the console can play audio CDs and DVD movies, and is backwards compatible with PlayStation games. The PS2 also supports PlayStation memory cards and controllers, although original PlayStation memory cards only work with original PlayStation games and the controllers may not support all functions (such as analog buttons) for PS2 games.
The standard PlayStation 2 memory card has an 8 MB capacity. There are a variety of non-Sony manufactured memory cards available for the PlayStation 2, allowing for a memory capacity larger than the standard 8 MB.
The console also features USB and IEEE 1394 (Firewire) expansion ports. A hard disk drive can be installed in an expansion bay on the back of the console, and is required to play certain games, notably the popular Final Fantasy XI. This is only available on certain models.
The hardware uses the Emotion Engine CPU, a custom-designed processor based on the MIPS architecture with a floating point performance of 6.2 GFLOPS, and the custom-designed Graphics Synthesizer GPU, with a fillrate of 2.4 gigapixels/second, capable of rendering up to 75 million polygons per second. When accounting for features such as lighting, texture mapping, artificial intelligence, and game physics, it has a real-world performance of 3 million to 16 million polygons per second.
The PlayStation 2 may natively output video resolutions on SDTV and HDTV from 480i to 480p while other games, such as Gran Turismo 4 and Tourist Trophy are known to support up-scaled 1080iresolution using any of the following standards: composite video (480i), S-Video (480i), RGB (480i/p), VGA (for progressive scan games and PS2 Linux only), YPBPR component video (which display most original PlayStation games in their native 240p mode which most HDTV sets do not support), and D-Terminal. Cables are available for all of these signal types; these cables also output analog stereo audio. Additionally, an RF modulator is available for the system to connect to older TVs.
Digital (S/PDIF) audio may also be output by the console via its TOSLINK connector which outputs 5.1 channel sound.
The PS2 has undergone many revisions, some only of internal construction and others involving substantial external changes.
The PS2 is primarily differentiated between models featuring the original “fat” case design and “slimline” models, which were introduced at the end of 2004. In 2010, the Sony Bravia KDL-22PX300 was made available to consumers. It was a 22″ HD-Ready television which incorporated a built-in PlayStation 2.
The PS2 standard color is matte black. Several variations in color were produced in different quantities and regions, including ceramic white, light yellow, metallic blue (aqua), metallic silver, navy (star blue), opaque blue (astral blue), opaque black (midnight black), pearl white, sakura purple, satin gold, satin silver, snow white, super red, transparent blue (ocean blue), and also Limited Edition color Pink, which was distributed in some regions such as Oceania, and parts of Asia.
In September 2004, Sony unveiled its third major hardware revision. Available in late October 2004, it was smaller, thinner, and quieter than the original versions and included a built-in Ethernet port (in some markets it also had an integrated modem). Due to its thinner profile, it did not contain the 3.5″ expansion bay and therefore did not support the internal hard disk drive. It also lacked an internal power supply until a later revision (excluding the Japan version), similar to the GameCube, and had a modified Multitap expansion. The removal of the expansion bay was criticized as a limitation due to the existence of titles such as Final Fantasy XI, which required the use of the HDD.
Sony also manufactured a consumer device called the PSX that can be used as a digital video recorder and DVD burner in addition to playing PS2 games. The device was released in Japan on December 13, 2003, and was the first Sony product to include the XrossMediaBar interface. It did not sell well in the Japanese market and was not released anywhere else.