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.
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)