Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) today announced a new version of its debugging Reference Tool for the PlayStation 3 and a new SDK for developers.

The DECR-1400A looks like a normal PlayStation 3 but allows access deep inside the console's hardware and firmware, and can play early code rather just finished discs.

Sony says that the DECR-1400A allows advanced game programming and more efficient computer graphics rendering than the previous Reference Tool - and at a lower cost of 'just' Euros 1700 (£1600).

Speeding up game development

Sony hopes that the lower price will appeal to a broader range of developers and publishers, helping to provide a more streamlined game development environment and accelerating game development for PS3.

SCE is also upgrading its PhyreEngine graphics rendering engine first introduced last year. The new version includes a new foliage rendering system that provides tools and technology to render ultra-realistic trees and plants to be easily integrated into games

Apparently, this will "help game developers to express their creativity more freely on the PS3 system." Or at the very least design games with kick-ass beeches and photo-realistic oaks.