The SPHERE is an exo-solar planet imager, which goal is to detect giant exo-solar planets in the vicinity of bright stars and to characterize them through spectroscopic and polarimetric observations. It is a complete system with a core made of an extreme-Adaptive Optics (AO) turbulence correction, pupil tracker and interferential coronagraphs. At its back end, an Infra-Red Dual-beam Imaging and Spectroscopy science module and an integral field spectrograph work in the Near Infrared (NIR) Y, J, H and Ks bands (0.95 - 2.32μm) and a high resolution polarization camera covers the visible (0.6 - 0.9 μm) region. We describe briefly the science goals of the instrument and deduce the top-level requirements. This paper presents the system architecture, and reviews each of the main sub-systems. The results of the latest end-to-end simulations are shown and an update of the expected performance is given. The project has been officially kicked-off in March 2006, it is presently undergoing Preliminary Design Review and is scheduled for 1st light in early 2011. This paper reviews the present design of SPHERE but focuses on the changes implemented since this project was presented the last time to this audience.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.