Article written by Greg Aldridge.
Published on 31/08/2009 at 07:00 AM.
In a series of moves that Kratos would be proud of screwdriver-wielding warriors have gutted the stealthy beast that is the PS3 Slim (Latin name Lascivio-constituo tres tenius). Being the first to hunt down and butcher one of these elusive critters with their matt black coats and “whisper quiet” growls carries with it some cachet in certain strata of geek society so it was only a matter of time.
Okay, so it is nothing quite that dramatic but some techs have removed some screws from the PS3 Slim to get a look at its internals. My Putting PS3 On A Diet post seemed to go down okay the other week so here is a quick look at what is known so far about the internal changes to the PS3 Slim for those who like that sort of thing.
The headline new piece of hardware in the PS3 Slim is the new Cell processor. Sony have confirmed that the Cell is now manufactured on a 45nm process making its smallest silicon features equal in size to the distance your fingernails grow in a little under a minute.
Despite Sony saying that in the Slim “the main semiconductors” have been redesigned and Toshiba having been expected to been manufacturing the RSX on the 45nm process from earlier this year I can find no firm evidence that the RSX has been shrunk further than the 65nm it has already reached. This is not entirely surprising as the reduction to 65nm lagged behind the Cell by around a year.
Previously PS3s have had Samsung hard disk drives (HDDs) installed but the Slim now contains a Toshiba drive. This means that Toshiba now make the Cell, RSX and HDD for the PS3. The HDD is still a 5400rpm device with an 8MB buffer as before and is part of a series of HDDs differing only in size from 120GB to 500GB thereby offering an obvious upgrade replacement. Amazon, for example, offer the 500GB version for £66.11 at the time of writing.
Big Fan and Blu-ray Drive
Once again to keep fan noise as low as possible Sony have gone for a design using a single large fan. That this is a better acoustic solution the the 360′s twin small fans will be obvious to anyone who has heard both consoles after they have had a chance to warm up.
You might have expected the Slim to be equipped with a compact laptop-style Blu-ray drive but it is actually only a little smaller than the original. The likely reason for this is that making it smaller would have cost more and as Sony are still desperate to reduce manufacturing costs we therefore find a fairly fat drive in the Slim.
Here is the Slim’s motherboard (right) pictured next to one from a black 40GB PS3.
You can clearly see the cutaway to make room for the HDD. In contrast to older PS3s the Slim’s board sits the ‘right’ way up with the main devices on top of the board as you look down on it when it is installed in the PS3. Note that in common with the motherboards from the white 40GB PS3s two of the XDR memory chips are mounted on the opposite side of the board to help reduce its footprint.
In the top left of the Slim’s board as pictured, actually the back right-hand corner as you look at a Slim from the front, you can see a black connector to two prongs sticking up. That is the connector for the power supply which sits on top of the board along the length of the back of the Slim.
Just below that power connector in the picture you can see a small circuit board with its own metal shielding with a white label on it. That is the module that takes care of the WiFi and Bluethooth connections. You can see the two solder pads where the WiFi and Bluetooth antennas connect between it and the round black component with the hole in the top, next to the Ethernet connector, which is the buzzer responsible for the beep when you switch your PS3 on.
It would appear that the southbridge, the square black device fitted to each motherboard, appears to be physically smaller in the Slim. In previous PS3s that has been another Toshiba-made device that has been the focus of a die-shrink from 90nm to 65nm. As the southbridge is another device that will get quite warm in operation its smaller size in the Slim may be indicative that it needs to dissipate less heat as it has been shrunk along with the Cell to 45nm but that is pure speculation.
With the PS3 Slim being less power hungry than its predecessors the power supply has been substantially redesigned. The outward sign of this is that the PS3 Slim’s power socket is a small twin pin type that you will be familiar with from other consumer electronics kit instead of the ‘kettle lead’ connection that older PS3s sport. Sony continue to use a single power supply worldwide with it capable of handling a 100-250V supply. At the cost of a slightly more complex power supply Sony save by only having the one variant.
This contrasts with Microsoft’s approach not only in that the power supply is internal to the PS3 but that different regions will have a different 360 ‘power brick’. For example, the brick connected to my 360 Elite will take 200-250V which is fine for the UK and Europe but useless for countries like Japan (100V), America (120V) and Barbados (115V).
Now let us take a look at the power consumption of the Slim compared to the original launch 60GB PS3 and the more recent 40GB model. The easiest way of getting this across is a nice simple table. Just for fun I have also included three of the four 360 chipsets (figures for Zephyr are almost identical to Xenon) and the Wii. The cost column is estimated based off a simplified calculation using my own electricity costs and assumes playing for 20 hours a week for a year and left in standby the rest of the time.
|Wii (Connect24 Off)||17-19||1.3||4.33|
|Wii (Connect24 On)||17-19||9.6||13.62|
PSPgo in Pieces
As your reward for reading this far here are the bonus pictures of the PSPgo’s mother board. Here it is looking at it from the ‘front’ as if you were playing on the PSPgo.
At an angle at the top right is the Memory Stick Micro connector. To the right of that if the WiFi module. The D-pad is pretty obvious. The cut-out next to it makes room for the analogue ‘nub’ to sit in its little circular depression. The silver connector at the bottom is the new multi-function connector that replaces the USB, power and video-out ports found on the PSP-3000.
The pads for the four PlayStation buttons are readily apparent. To the right of what would be the circle button, at an angle, is the PSPgo’s power switch which is the same as those found on ’2000s and ’3000s. Moving up from there, surrounded by a little metal ‘fence’ we have the go’s power control circuitry. The rectangular cut-out at the top is there as the motherboard surrounds the battery on three sides.
Flipping the board over, in the bottom left corner you can see the single device that is the PSPgo’s CPU, GPU, RAM and operating system flash all rolled into one. Integrating all that onto a single device reduces cost. To the right of that is the video processing circuitry that will display the image either on the go’s screen or your TV if you are using the video out connection.
On the right hand side, the large device is the 16GB of flash. The silver device just above it is the Bluetooth module. Note the red and white sticker next to the flash device. That is a moisture sensitive sticker that the red dots appear on when it is exposed to the humidity in the atmosphere. If you open up your PSPgo to tamper with it (or just to take pictures of its insides) and subsequently send it in for a warranty repair, the red dots will tell Sony that you have voided your warranty by opening it up at some point.
Lastly here is the board in the PSPgo. In this picture we are looking at it from the back of the PSPgo. You can clearly see the battery. Metal EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) shielding is in place over the various devices to prevent interference. The orange cable next to the shielding covering the 16GB flash device is for the headphone socket which you can see in place beneath it and protruding from the bottom of the case. The black and silver square next to that is the back of the analogue nub.
Hope you found that interesting. If you have any questions I will answer them in the comments if I can.
Thanks to Erroneus for the link to the power consumption figures for the Slim.