Sony Patent Backwards Compatibility Device

Sony have filed a patent for a new device that will allow any PS3 to play PS2 games, hence returning the much sought after feature of backwards compatibility to its next-gen system. Famously, Sony removed the necessary hardware to support playing older games on its newest console in an effort to drive down costs and reenter the console race; a race they were seriously flagging behind in. It worked. Soon after the PS3’s surgical inner reimagining we saw a price-cut that ultimately helped PS3 sales surge. Of course, a lot of people still lamented the price that had to be paid.

The patent in question describes the ability of playing games through the use of an external removable adaptor deemed “200” on another more up to date system designated “300”. Use your own imagination as to what these code-names may refer to. Hint: we’re not talking about the 3DO.

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By essentially repackaging the guts of a PS2 into an attachable doohickey, Sony would be capable of returning the feature to the PS3 through the use of this proxy device.

The approach is simplistic if a tad crude. It is, however, also quite ingenious as, considering the maximum throughput of a PS3 USB port is 35MB, the device would plug in to the PS3 through the systems’s gigabit ethernet port. As Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry speculates:

“This offers a 125 megabyte per second connection between the host console and the “removable adaptor”. The theory is that the PS2 game disc is inserted into the PS3 with data from the drive combined with input from the controller(s) being beamed over the LAN port. The adaptor then decodes the data and processes it exactly as a PS2 would. The output data is then transmitted back to the PS3.

Quite what form that data takes remains unknown, but an educated guess would be uncompressed video and audio which is then displayed (and perhaps upscaled) by the PS3: a 480p video signal at 24-bit RGB running at 60Hz would probably entail around 72MB of bandwidth with a minimal amount of overhead for audio. That’s way beyond USB 2.0, but should be manageable via the gigabit Ethernet port.”

It’s not all good news, though, with Eurogamer’s “techsperts” also hypothesising that any PS2 game would still suffer from latency issues due to the large amounts of game data flying across the LAN ports.

Regardless, it would bridge a gap many people still feel quite strongly about. It’s also worthwhile to note that, with the advances in technology of late (and the fact that there would be no need for an optical drive in this device), it’s quite possible this magic box could be quite compact and cost-effective. Retail it for less than a £/$/€100 and we could see a lot of people being interested.

Of course, this is just a patent, and you know what they say about patents. Easy to file. Not so easy (or even potentially warranted) to execute.

Source: Siliconera (thanks to all those that sent this in)

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33 Comments

  1. This could be very interesting indeed. I think many owners of non-BC PS3’s would love the feature back.

    • Yeah, but only if they price it right. After all, you can get a pre-owned PS2 for about £25 nowadays……

  2. I’m sure they’re patenting it so no one else can develop such a device, if my memory serves me correct they did it with something else in the past.

    This protects Sony’s business model of re-selling everyone games they’ve already bought in the form of HD Classics or in future store downloads.

    Also given the fact that Homebrew is being developed at an ever quickening rate, this means Sony could go after dongle manufacturers from a patent point of view if such an attachment enables PS2 gaming (which it will), so if the manufacturers aren’t illegally infringing copyright then Sony could do them for patent infringement.

    • A good point, this is certainly a long way from a product design.

    • If it’s only at patent stage, a finished product would be, what? 1 year away? 18 months?
      Surely that far too late in the PS3 lifecycle to introduce PS2 B/C? PS2 itself would probably be ready to be retired by then.
      Chris’s suggestion that they are patenting it to stop others makes more sense than the idea that Sony are considering developing such a device themselves. The timing is just too late…

  3. Upto £100 would be far too much, I’m thinking around £20.

    • For Playstation 2? I would do anything

      • Anything? How about buying a PS2?

      • LOL

      • I considering getting a PS2 tomorrow, even though I have a B/C PS3. MGS3 Subsistence is giving be crap, but I love it so much…

    • No more than retail game price, £40, for me.

  4. Good idea, and a step in the right direction for Sony. Personally not having backwards compatibility never really bothered me. But if this comes out, I’ll buy it. It’ll be cool to crank up some PS2 classics on my PS3.

  5. Backwards compatibility is a nice feature but I can’t remember the last time I’ve played a PS2 game on my PS3. I think I’d be more than happy sticking to the HD remakes if I didn’t have the feature anyway. What does everyone else think?

    • The only PS2 game I play on my PS3 is GT4 and once GT5 comes out, that will probably stop too

    • The one game I want more than any other PS2 to get a HD remake is Final Fantasy X.

  6. For me, that would only be useful so I could smooth the graphics on the PS2 games. I don’t particually need it though as I have 3 PS2s in the house :-)

  7. Interesting idea, shame about the price :-P

  8. Seriously, why would you bother with this? If you’re THAT desperate to play PS2 games, just buy a PS2. You can get one new with a copy of Buzz! for £39.99 from GAME.

    The lack of b/c is a total non-issue.

    • Really?! Nice, may phone them bitches up tomorrow :) Screw Buzz though.

  9. Ive got a launch 60gb, but would say that a good price would be about £40.
    Doubt we’ll ever see it though.

  10. I’m one of the few with a PS3 that has backwards compatibility. Not that I’ve played a PS2 game on it for ages.

    • I think it depends on what you need it for then. Personally I have a collection of all my PS2 games that I really wanted to keep, usually they are part of a series I have followed such as Resi, MGS, Silent Hill etc but they all fitted on my 64mb memory card without a problem so I think for me it would just be easier and probably cheaper just to buy a PS2 when I get my new PS3, unless of course this new gadget is only about £$20

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