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PlayStation 3 Secrets

The purpose of this webpage is to provide information (a majority are secret or are hard to find) on the PS3. If you think you know all there is to know about the PS3, read the following and you might learn a thing or two that you didn't know before. It is updated as new information is uncovered in the public, so visit often if you wish to keep up to date on the latest secrets. Please link to this webpage rather than copy the contents. And do remember that the ads support this page so visit them if they interest you. Note that this page is part of a collection of secrets to various hardware. Feel free to read other technology "SECRETS" by visiting the menu at the top of this page.

Table of Contents

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Clicking on a link in the Table of Contents takes you to the selected topic, and while there, if you click on the topic title, it will take you back to this Table of Contents.

PS3 Model Differences

The following chart describes the basic differences between various PS3 model numbers. The chart is broken up into two parts. The first part lists the prefix, while the second part lists the suffix. Combining prefix and suffix allows you to arrive at an actual PS3 model number. Note that although the harddrive capacity and memory card readers are missing in some models, you can upgrade or add the capability later. Unimportant cosmetic variations (like color, chrome trim and exact location of ports) are not included. Note that for OtherOS, it was disabled in firmware 3.21 and higher. In the chart below, combining the yellow parts produces an actual PS3 model number.

Fat Model
OtherOSPS2 ModeSA-CDWiFi
CECHA00 01 06 07 1260GBNoYesHardwareYesYes90nm/90nm200/3804Yes8/2006-
CECHB00 01 07 1220GBNoYesHardwareYesNo90nm/90nm200/3804No8/2006-
CECHC02 03 04 08 60GBNoYesSoftwareYesYes90nm/90nm200/3804Yes8/2006-
CECHE01 05 06 11 1280GBNoYesSoftwareYesYes90nm/90nm200/3804Yes8/2007
CECHG010203 04 05 06 07 08 11 1240GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/90nm160/2802No10/2007
CECHH00 010203 04 05 06 07 08 11 1240GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/90nm160/2802No10/2007
CECHJ00 02 03 0440GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/65nm130/2802No8/2008
CECHK01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 11 1280GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/65nm130/2802No8/2008
CECHL00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 11 1280GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/65nm130/2802No8/2008
CECHP00 01 03 04 05 06 07 12160GBNoYesNoNoYes65nm/65nm130/2802No10/2008
Slim Model
OtherOSPS2 ModeSA-CDWiFi
CECH-2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 11 12A=120GB
CECH-2100 010203 04 0506 07 12A=120GB
CECH-2500 010203 04 0506 070811 12A=160GB
CECH-3000 010203 04 0506 070811 12A=160GB
Slim Model
OtherOSPS2 ModeSA-CDWiFi
CECH-4000 01 04 05 070811 12A=16GB

Note that the PS3 model number (prefix) from above needs a two digit region number (suffix) appended at the end to designate a region. For the PS3 Slim, an additional letter (appendix) is added to the end of the model number to designate harddrive size. From the chart above you can see that CECHJ, CECHM, and CECHQ were only released to a few regions. They are extremely rare, so for console collectors they may be considered to be more valuable. The PS3 Slim models uses PSP model naming nomenclature, 10xx, 20xx, 30xx, so a second generation PS3 (Slim) is CECH-20xx. A first generation Japanese 60GB PS3 would thus be designated CECHA00, while the one in North America would be designated CECHA01. A second generation 120GB Japanese PS3 Slim would be designated CECH-2000A, while the 120GB North American Slim PS3 would be designated CECH-2001A. Both are 120GB models because starting with the PS3 Slim, the harddrive size is designated by an appended letter after the region code (in this case A=120GB, and B=250GB). Note that although globally some PS3 share the same model prefixes, they are actually different because of their special support for their country and SDTV region (NTSC or PAL), which the suffix code below delineates.

Code (Suffix)RegionFirst Release DateFirst Model ReleasedSDTV RegionBlu-ray RegionDVD RegionPS2 RegionPS1 Region
01North AmericaNov 17, 2006CECHA01NTSCA1 NTSCNTSC-U/CNTSC-US
02Australia / New ZealandMar 23/23, 2007CECHC02PALB4 PALPALPAL
03U.K. / IrelandMar 23, 2007CECHC03PALB2 PALPALPAL
04Europe / Middle East / AfricaMar 23/22/23, 2007CECHC04PALB2 PALPALPAL
05South KoreaJun 16, 2007CECHE05NTSCA3 NTSCNTSC-JNTSC-J
06Singapore / MalaysiaMar 07, 2007CECHA06NTSCA3 NTSCNTSC-JNTSC-J
08Russia / IndiaApr 20/27, 2007CECHC08PALC5 NTSC/PALPALPAL
11Mexico / BrazilAug 27, 2007CECHE11NTSCA4 NTSCNTSC-U/CNTSC-US

Blu-ray, DVD, PS3, PS2, and PlayStation (PSone) compatibility

The above PS3 Model chart also displays the compatibility of PS3 with the various video and games formats.

PS3 Game compatibility

PS3 games (on Blu-ray discs) are not region locked, but they are released and labelled with numerical regions codes (which seems to match DVD region codes). Any PS3 game from any region will play in any PS3. However, there is the special situation when you try to play back the game in Standard Definition. If the PS3 game only has Standard Definition and Enhanced Definition for either PAL (576i and 576p) or NTSC (480i and 480p), your PS3 must have the same Standard Definition and Enhanced Definition format support, or you won't be able to play it. This is not a problem if you play the game in High Definition (720p, 1080i, 1080p), but there exists the possibility to region lock (based on Blu-ray game region) games if the publisher decides to do so. All PS3 games have a serial number containing a four character prefix, followed by a five digit suffix. The following are the common prefix for PS3 games:

BCASFirst Party, Asia
BCJSFirst Party, Japan
BLASThird Party, Asia
BLJMThird Party, Japan
BLJSThird Party, Japan
BCUSFirst Party, US
BLUSThird Party, US
BCESFirst Party, Europe
BLESThird Party, Europe

The first letter indicates the storage format. Normally, it is B for Blu-ray disc format. Other formats may include S = DVD. The second letter indicates if the game is first party (C = Sony), or licensed from third party (L = others). The third letter indicates: A=Asia, J=Japan, U=United States, or E=Europe. The last letter indicates the type: D = Demo, S = Game, M = ?. Note that for some third party games, Sony may take it and repackage with appropriate material for other territories, thus the game become first party as well.

PS2 Game compatibility

For PS2 mode compatibility, PS3 models having the Graphics Synthesizer (GS) chip is required, and models having an extra Emotion Engine (EE) chip have even better compatibility with PS2 games. PS3 models having the extra EE chip uses PS2 hardware emulation, while those without uses PS2 software emulation. Later PS3 models that don't even have the Graphics Synthesizer chip meant no PS2 compatibility at all (hardware or software).

PS2 games are divided into four main regions (NTSC-J, NTSC-U/C, NTSC-C, PAL) and two formats (NTSC or PAL) locked. Note that the PS2 game discs can be single or double layer, although there are very few dual-layer PS2 games (like Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance). The PS3 supports both.

PS1 Game compatibility

All PS3 models have PS1 compatibility via software emulation. PS1 games (disc-based) are divided into three main region (NTSC-J, NTSC-US, PAL) and two formats (NTSC or PAL) locked. Most early PS (PSone) games are not protected, but later releases (like Metal Gear Solid Integral) have special marks that require special CD lens to read. The PS3 supports reading these protected discs. Note that PS games downloaded from the PlayStation Network store are not region nor format locked as long as you are able to pay (if not free) and download them from the store.

Movie compatibility

For Blu-ray video, the discs are divided into three (A, B, or C) main regions which must match the region of your PS3 for playback. The initial Blu-ray discs that were released supported region codes, but were not enforced, so a PS3 can play Blu-ray discs from any region (this might change in the future).

For DVD playback, the discs are divided into six (from 1 to 6; note 0, 7, and 8 are special cases) main regions and two formats (NTSC or PAL). Not only must your PS3 match the region, it must also support the format as well.

Compatibility Notes

Note that Blu-ray and DVD uses different region coding methods and country division, and they should not be confused with each other. Also note that the above table only applies if you have the latest firmware version installed, which can remove or add format or region lock for DVD playback. For example, the Hong Kong PS3 originally only played back NTSC Region 3 DVD, and with an update supported both NTSC and PAL Region 3 DVD playback. The situation may change, so provide feedback if you note otherwise.

As for model releases and dates, note that although the PS3 was not officially released in China, the majority of them are actually made there, so you can find all sorts of models in that country. The region codes for China designate what they should be if an official PS3 was released.

Promotional PS3 Models

Sometimes special promotions are created by Sony that introduce or bundle new color, games, or peripherals with a PS3. These promotional PS3 often have additional suffixes added to the model numbers. For example: CECHE01 MG. Although extra games or peripherals are included, the basic PS3 machine follows the same specs as the model prefix. So in this case, the example PS3 above would have the same specs as a CECHE PS3. The following is a chart listing the suffix for these special models. Note that multiple suffixes can be attached at the end. For example, CECHH-CWDM would indicate a Ceramic White CECHH PS3 that includes a Devil May Cry 4 game. If the PS3 does not have a color suffix, it is assumed to be Clear Black in color.

Code (Suffix)Description
ACAdvent Children included in a "Cloud Black" PS3
AMGEverybody's Golf 5 included in a CECHA PS3
BMGEverybody's Golf 5 included in a CECHB PS3
CWCeramic White PS3
DMDevil May Cry 4 included
FFFinal Fantasy III included
MGMetal Gear Solid 4 included
RGRyu ga Gotoku 3 included
SSSatin Silver PS3

Sometimes special promotional PS3 are released unique model numbers that are not just appended suffixes. Included in these special one-time offers are often free packaged games. The following lists these unique model numbers that don't follow a pattern.

Model NumberDescription
CEJH-10000Metal Gear Solid 4 in a Clear Black PS3
CEJH-10001Metal Gear Solid 4 in a Ceramic White PS3
CEJH-10002Metal Gear Solid 4 in a Satin Silver PS3
CEJH-10003Little Big Planet in a Clear Black PS3
CEJH-10004Little Big Planet in a Ceramic White PS3
CEJH-10005Little Big Planet in a Satin Silver PS3
CEJH-10008Final Fantasy XIII in a Ceramic White "Lightning Edition" 250GB PS3
CEJH-10009"Michael Jackson THIS IS IT" Blu-ray in a charcoal black PS3
CEJH-10010Torne in a Ceramic White PS3
CEJH-10011Yakuza in a 250GB PS3

Special PS3 Models

The PS3 also comes in three different flavors for developers and retailers.

PS3 Test Unit

Developers get a PS3 Test unit (Debugging Station) that allows it to run unsigned code. The machine is normally labelled Test below the PlayStation 3 logo, and it comes with a testkit. The PS3 model numbers for these Test machines are similar to the the ones for consumers, but instead of the CECH prefix, the model numbers have the DECH prefix. Unlike consumer units, a PS3 Test unit has an extra "Settings"->"Debug Settings" menu in the XMB (XrossMediaBar), which allows many options like downgrading to previous PS3 Test firmwares (available in PS3 Test firmware 2.00 and higher), changing the PS3 region, and treating a USB drive as a Blu-ray drive,. The PS3 Test unit is identical to the consumer PS3 unit hardware-wise, but the different software settings is tailored for allowing easy debugging of programs. By default it is missing Blu-ray movie decryption keys found in the retail PS3, but has decryption keys for running debug encrypted software. The PS3 Test, therefore, cannot decrypt and play retail Blu-ray movie discs, but can run retail PS3 games. In the DECHA models, PS2 games (any region, debug and retail) loading were disabled, but later firmwares allow it.

PS3 Test ModelDescription
DECHA00J/DECHA00ASimilar to CECHA00, for debugging PS3 software.
DECHA007J/DECHA007ASimilar to CECHA00, for debugging PS3 software.
DECHJ00J/DECHJ00ASimilar to CECHJ00, for debugging PS3 software.
DECH-2000APS3 Slim version.
DECH-2500ABigger harddrive.
DECH-S2500AFor shows.
DECH-4000ADebugging Station
DECH-S4000ADebugging Station for AV test

Note that an S prefix can be attached to end of the PS3 Test model number, which designates that the unit is made specifically for trade "S"hows, so the TEST logo is not next to the PlayStation 3 logo. In all other purposes though, it is identical to a PS3 Test unit. The A and J designate America or Japan variation.

PS3 Tool Unit

Developers also get a PS3 Tool unit (Reference Tool) that comes with an extra internal harddrive, 512MB of XDR RAM (256MB more than consumer unit), and a full devkit. This unit has extra hardware on board that listens to port 1000, and connecting to this port with a webbrowser opens up a system configuration page, which allows you to set the machine to emulate different models (like 20GB or 60GB model), amount of user memory (512MB XDR or 256MB XDR), and debug or system software mode. Early versions of this machine is large and squarish, and does not resemble consumer PS3s, while later versions do.

PS3 Tool ModelDescriptionRelease Date
DECR-1000/DECR-1000A2 400GB Harddrives
2 HDMI output
4 LAN ports (1 for Debugging)
Analog audio outputs
VGA output
DECR-1400J/DECR-1400ALater model that resembles a consumer PS3Released March 23, 2009
1 HDMI output
2 LAN ports (1 for Debugging)
512MB System RAM

PS3 Demonstration Unit

Retailers can obtain a PS3 Demonstration Unit for shop display that puts the machine in a special mode that allows playing PS3 games for only a limited time before rebooting. These Demonstration units can have their Demonstration firmware updated to newer versions by connecting to the internet. The PS3 Demonstration unit is identical (hardware-wise) to the consumer PS3 and the PS3 Test units, with the only difference in software installed and the included 120GB harddrive.

Although the PS3 Demonstration Unit is locked into demonstration mode, you can unlock this mode by entering a secret unlock code (those with firmware less than version 1.5 need not enter code). To unlock, navigate the XMB and highlight the Settings->Security Settings icon. Then press and hold these four buttons: L2, R2, Select, and Square. If the PS3 has firmware less than 1.5, the machine should be unlocked from demonstration mode. For firmware 1.5 and greater, you will be prompted to enter a four digit security code. Depending on the firmware installed (displayed on the corner of the screen), the codes are (NTSC and PAL PS3 may have different codes for a given firmware):

Firmware VersionSecurity Code

Note that the codes above are the default for a specific firmware and knowing the code also allows you to change it to something different. You can force the machine to go back to demonstration mode by pressing the four button combo again, or turning off and on the PS3. Note that Demonstration PS3 units have certain features disabled. For example, you are not allowed to access the PlayStation Store.

Early PS3 Models

Before the consumer PS3 was released on November 11, 2006, earlier models existed. These models were made for developers and also to test if the system was viable. The earlier models have a prefix of CEB (Cell Evaluation Board).

PS3 Tool Model NameCodenameModel numberDateCellSystem MemoryGPUVRAMGPU connectionDescription
Cell Evaluation SystemShreckCEB-1020Jan, 20052.4GHz DD1256MB XDRGeForce 6800 SLIPCI-Express x4Debugging machine and evaluation
PS3 Evaluation SystemCytologyCEB-2030Mar, 2005 - Dec, 20052.4GHz DD2512MB XDRGeForce 7800 GTX256bit 512MB GDDR3PCI-Express x4For software vendors
PS3 Evaluation SystemCytologyCEB-2050Mar, 2005 - Dec, 20053.2GHz DD3512MB XDRGeForce 7800 GTX256bit 512MB GDDR3PCI-Express x4
PS3 Evaluation SystemCEB-?Jan, 20063.2GHz DD3.1512MB XDRRSX prototype128bit 256MB GDDR3FlexIO
PS3 Reference ToolDECR-1000 ?Sep, 20063.2GHz512MB XDRRSX128bit 256MB GDDR3FlexIOBlu-ray drive

Announced, but not confirmed:
PS3 Tool Model NameCodenameModel numberDateCellSystem MemoryGPUVideo MemoryGPU connectionDescription
PS3 Evaluation SystemCytologyDEH-R103XApr, 20053.2GHz512MB XDRRSX256MB GDDR3FlexIOcontroller, bd-drive prototype
PS3 Evaluation SystemCytologyDEH-R104XMay, 20053.2GHz512MB XDRRSX256MB GDDR3FlexIOcontroller, bd-drive final

Early PS3 Test Models.
PS3 Test Model NameCodenameModel numberDateCellSystem MemoryGPUVideo MemoryGPU connectionDescription
PS3 Test PrototypeDEH-H1000AS-EThis unit was for trade shows
PS3 Test PrototypeDEH-H1001-DEarly prototype from late June, 2006.

Future PS3 Models

Every once and a while, new PS3 models are released by Sony. If you wish to know ahead of time what the new models are, you can visit:

Enter for Grantee Code: AK8
Enter for Product Code: CEC

You should get a listing of the products released by Sony pertaining to the PS3. Check the latest dates to verify rumors of upcoming products. Although they are mainly for peripherals, you may need to leave out the CEC and go through all the list (unfortunately a lot of them) to pinpoint down the products models for PS3. This is how the PSP rumors were confirmed, by enter PSP into the Product Code and leaving AK8 as the Grantee Code.

PS3 Audio

The PS3 supports many different audio formats, either disc based, network streaming, or via fixed and removable flash storage like the internal harddrive and external memory cards. In addition, because most of the advanced audio support is done via software on the Cell, the feature list is constantly changing. The following information is based on the latest firmware at the time of this writing. Feel free to come back for updates to the compatibility charts that follows. Also, because of limited analog output options for surround sound (the AV Multi analog cable only has stereo left and right channels), you need to purchase an Audio (and/or Video) Receiver that support "HDMI in" to enjoy 5.1 or 7.1 surround channels. TOSLINK (optical digital) AV Receivers are not recommended because it has a lower bandwidth and it is also an unprotected link, restricting output of high bandwidth and protected audio. Basic HDMI 1.1 that has 7.1 analog outputs for speakers (and a passthrough HDMI for the video to your HDTV) is recommended. Because of the various ways to connect your speakers to the PS3, how you choose the connection determines the quality of the audio output. Analog storage of music became obsolete with the introduction of the Compact Disc (CD). Now all retail music is stored digitally. Because of this, there are three stages to get audio (in digital form) to your speakers (in analog form).

StageProcessResultant FormatPS3 ConnectionConnection Type
1Obtain digital audio (encoded and compressed) from storage deviceBitstreamHDMI, TOSLINKDigital
2Decode and uncompress digital audioLinear PCMHDMI, TOSLINKDigital
3Convert digital audio (decoded and uncompressed) to Analog audioAnalogAV Multi CableAnalog

Digital versus Analog

The PS3 can do all of the stages above, but depending on the connection, it may skip some of the later stages if you have the right equipment that can handle it. The three main audio output options on the PS3 are the HDMI, TOSLINK (optical digital), and AV Multi cable. HDMI and TOSLINK are digital connections, whereas the AV Multi cable is analog. Both HDMI and TOSLINK can support more than two channels of audio (up to 7.1 for HDMI and 5.1 for TOSLINK), while the AV Multi cable can only support two analog channels (left and right) for connecting directly to the two RCA jacks that lead to your speakers (or amplifier/receiver).

Bitstream versus Linear PCM

The PS3 provides options for either "Bitstream" or "Linear PCM" when outputting the audio signal. This option is located in the "Settings->BD/DVD Settings->BD/DVD Audio Output Format(HDMI)" and "Settings->BD/DVD Settings->BD Audio Output Format (Optical)" settings of your XMB. Linear PCM is audio data that is not encoded (nor compressed) and is in it's pure digital form, ready for conversion into analog for the speakers. A regular CD stores all its songs in Linear PCM form. Most audio starting with the DVD store digital data encoded and compressed (like Dolby Digital or Digital Surround). If "Bitstream" option is selected, the PS3 will take this encoded and compressed audio and send it untouched to the HDMI or TOSLINK cable for your external decoder to decode. In other words, the receiver at the other end of the HDMI or TOSLINK must have special chips that can decode and uncompress formats like Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround, and then convert the resultant Linear PCM to analog (via a DAC) for the speakers connected to the external decoder. If "Linear PCM" option is selected, the PS3 will actually decode the audio into Linear PCM first, before sending it to the HDMI or TOSLINK. In this case the receiver on the other end of the HDMI or TOSLINK only needs to convert the Linear PCM to analog for the speakers connected to it. Because of the current bandwidth limitations of TOSLINK, choosing Linear PCM (the decoded and uncompressed signal) on this connection limits you to only two channels of audio. For multichannel (like 5.1) over TOSLINK, you must use "bitstream", which uses smaller bandwidth of compressed and encoded data.

Audio Storage Formats

As disc based storage medium became popular it was feasible to store audio digitally. The first digital format was basically the CD (red book), which stored 44.1kHz of Linear PCM (plain uncompressed and unencoded 16bit digital). In order to store multiple channels (up to 7.1) efficiently, many formats that took advantage of compression and encoding were invented. The DVD introduced 48kHz sample rate, and many types of encoding. The following table describes the various audio formats (those in pink are not supported by PS3).

Storage TypeAudio FormatStorage FormatCompression FormatChannelsBitsSampling frequencyBitrateProtection
Blu-ray DiscLinear PCMLinear PCMNone7.11648kHz4.6Mbit/sAACS
Blu-ray DiscDolby TrueHDDolby TrueHDMLP (Lossless)7.1 (max 14)up to 2496kHz (max 192kHz)up to 18Mbit/sAACS
Blu-ray DiscDolby Digital PlusE-AC-3Perceptual Coding (Lossy)7.1~20 (16 - 24)48kHzup to 1.7Mbit/sAACS
Blu-ray DiscDolby DigitalAC-3Perceptual Coding (Lossy)5.1~20 (16 - 24)48kHz640kbit/sAACS
Blu-ray Discdts-HD Master AudioLossless8up to 2496kHzup to 25.4Mbit/sAACS
Blu-ray Discdts-HD HR Audio8up to 2496kHzup to 6Mbit/sAACS
Blu-ray Discdts Digital SurroundCoherent AcousticsPerceptual Coding (Lossy)5.1~20 (16 - 24)48kHz1.509Mbit/s, 754kbit/sAACS
DVD DiscDolby DigitalAC-3Perceptual Coding (Lossy)5.1~20 (16 - 24)48kHz448kbit/s, 384kbit/sCSS
DVD Discdts Digital SurroundCoherent AcousticsPerceptual Coding (Lossy)5.1~20 (16 - 24)48kHz1.509Mbit/s, 754kbit/sCSS
SACD DiscSACDDSDDST (Lossless)2, 5.112.8224MHzPSP
DSD DiscDirect Stream DigitalDSF212.8224MHzNone
DVD DiscDVD-AudioLinear PCMMLP (Lossless)216, 20, 2444.1kHz - 192kHz9.6Mbit/sCPPM
DVD DiscDVD-AudioLinear PCMMLP (Lossless)5.116, 20, 2444.1kHz - 96kHz9.6Mbit/sCPPM
CD Discdts 5.1 Music DiscDTSPerceptual Coding (Lossy)5.11644.1kHz1.411Mbit/sNone
CD DiscHDCDLinear PCMNone22048kHzNone
CD DiscCDLinear PCMNone21644.1kHz1.411Mbit/sNone
VirtualAAC488kHz - 96kHz
VirtualMP35.116kHz - 48kHz320kbit/s
VirtualWMV (VC-1)

"Bitstream"ing of Dolby TrueHD audio is supported on the Slim PS3 (CECH-20xx models and higher). The Fat PS3 must decode the signal internally and output LPCM via the HDMI cable, and it is possible to remap existing channels to the extra rear two channels to keep 7.1 output (Firmware 2.40 and higher). TOSLINK is obviously not supported because of bandwidth issues.

"Bitstream"ing of dts-HD Master Audio is supported on the Slim PS3 also, while the Fat PS3 can, again, only output "Linear PCM" via the HDMI cable.

dts-HD High Resolution Audio (dts-HD HRA) is a lossy format and is supported in the PS3. However decoding is supported for "Linear PCM" in the PS3. dts-HD HRA is dts Digital Surround (the Core) plus any extra frequencies or channels up to 7.1. If selecting "Linear PCM", TOSLINK can only output stereo channels.

HDCD support in PS3

HDCD support is provided via the "bitstream" option. Note that because there is no specific CD option for turning on or off "bitstream", you must trick the PS3 into doing it. Since the CD is already in Linear PCM, the PS3 will normally just output the data (expecting it to be already decoded). HDCD has hidden bits in the Linear PCM that will trigger the external decoder to process the extra 4 bits. So as long as you choose HDMI or TOSLINK, and you use an external decoder that accepts HDCD, you should hear 20bits instead of plain 16bits.

dts 5.1 Music Disc support in PS3

dts 5.1 Music Disc (dts-CD) is supported if 44.1kHz is selected as the only output frequency, and you use an external decoder. Choosing 44.1kHz can be done via the "Music Settings" and "Sound Settings" inside the "Settings" menu of the XMB. The PS3 normally treats all CDs as unencoded Linear PCM and will just take the Linear PCM untouched from the CD and send it down the HDMI or TOSLINK, or convert to analog first before sending it down the AV Multi cable. Because the Linear PCM on the dts-CD is actually encoded 5.1 channels (or 6.1), you must trick the PS3 into sending the data untouched to an external dts-CD decoder via HDMI or TOSLINK (NOT the analog AV Multi). To accomplish this, you must turn off upconversion (48kHz, 88.2kHz and 176kHz must not be selected), otherwise, your signal will sound like FM noise.

DVD-Audio support in PS3

DVD-Audio is not supported in the PS3. However, if the DVD-Audio has a DVD-Video section, the PS3 can play the Dolby Digital, dts Digital Surround, or Linear PCM from it. Note that HDMI 1.2 and higher supports DVD-Audio, but Sony doesn't support it because they have a competing SACD format.

Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) support in PS3

The PS3 does support SACD (SA-CD) in models CECHF and lower. This is an important feature that unfortunately got removed in some of the later models (CECHG and higher). SACD is basically a DVD-like density disc containing high definition audio. This audio can be in either stereo channel or 5.1 channel, or both. SACD uses DSD (Direct Stream Digital) audio format, which is basically 1-bit encoding at an extremely high bitrate (2.8224MHz) and is compressed in lossless DST (Direct Stream Transfer) format (used especially in 5.1 multichannel). Many SACD discs are now usually sold as a "hybrid SACD" containing two layers (one DVD layer and one CD layer both on the same side). Do not confuse "hybrid SACD" with "DualDisc" (this format has the two layers, but on opposite sides of the disc). A "hybrid SACD" has the DVD-like density layer containing the SACD portion, while the CD layer contains the regular CD portion (for backwards compatibility with normal CD players). The SACD portion contains both high definition 5.1 channel and high definition stereo channel versions of the songs, while the CD portion contains only the regular stereo channel version of the songs. So if you pop in a hybrid SACD into a PS3, you should see three disc icons: one for regular CD; one for stereo channel SACD; and one for 5.1 channel SACD (note some multichannel SACD can come with less than 5.1 channels).

SACD over HDMI connection

Note that to play back 5.1 channel SACD (lossless), you need to use the HDMI interface (which has multiple pins for decoded multiple Linear PCM channels). You can get maximum 176kHz stereo channel or 5.1 channel Linear PCM output using HDMI. Note that some receivers have limited bandwidth and may downsample to 88.2kHz on multichannel 5.1. Unfortunately, the PS3 is unable to bitstream DSD directly to your AV receiver via HDMI, and does the conversion to Linear PCM for all channels before sending it over the HDMI. Even though HDMI version 1.2 allows for DSD (uncompressed from DST) bitstream transfers (and the PS3 can support HDMI 1.3a), the HDMI chip in the early PS3s (the only models that support SACD) don't have the DSD streaming capability built inside. Neither does it have the capability to bitstream the lossless compressed multichannel DST signal untouched (introduced in HDMI 1.3a).

SACD over TOSLINK (Optical Digital) connection

The PS3 supports the option for TOSLINK output of SACD audio, however only in stereo channels. The TOSLINK is not fast enough for all 5.1 decoded channels. In an earlier firmware (pre-2.01), choosing TOSLINK will force the PS3 to re-encode the decoded SACD 5.1 channels into DTS 5.1 (lossy) for output (via bitstream) to your external DTS 5.1 decoder. In these earlier firmware, you can avoid the lossy conversion over TOSLINK by deselecting "DTS 5.1 ch." in the TOSLINK "Sound Settings". However, you are then relegated to only two channels of Linear PCM over TOSLINK and PS3 will downsample to 44.1kHz for copy protection measures. Note that conversion to dts 5.1 was REMOVED in firmware 2.01. Downsampling to stereo 44.1kHz is the only option supported in current firmwares.

SACD over AV Multi cable connection

If you choose the AV Multi cable for output, you can only get stereo channels, but they can be up to 176kHz. The PS3 will convert first to Linear PCM and then to analog for your two channel AV Multi cable.

DSD Disc

The PS3 supports DSD Disc format, which is essentially a DVD-Rom with a subfolder containing DSF (DSD) files that are stored in a 1-bit format similarly to SACD. Although the sampling frequency is 2.8224MHz, when output, the PS3 normally converts it to 16-bit PCM with a max of 176kHz. Note that this DSD Disc is different from the DSD-CD, which is just a down-converted DSD source to regular CD "Red Book" format (44.1 kHz, 16-bit PCM) that can be played in any standard CD player.

Audio Compatibility Chart

PS3 CompatiblityBitstream (HDMI)LPCM (HDMI)Bitstream (TOSLINK)LPCM (TOSLINK)AV Multi
Linear PCM 7.1YesYesNoNoYes (Stereo)
Dolby TrueHD 7.1Yes (Slim only)YesNoYes (Stereo 44.1kHz)Yes (Stereo)
Dolby TrueHD 5.1Yes (Slim only)YesNoYes (Stereo 44.1kHz)Yes (Stereo)
Dolby Digital PlusYesYesYesYes (Stereo)Yes (Stereo)
Dolby DigitalYesYesYesYes (Stereo)Yes (Stereo)
dts-HD MA (7.1)Yes (Slim only)Yes (5.1)NoYes (Stereo)Yes (Stereo)
dts-HD HRA (7.1)Yes (Slim only)YesNoYes (Stereo)Yes (Stereo)
dts Digital SurroundYesYesYesYes (Stereo)Yes (Stereo)
SA-CD 5.1NoYes (176kHz PCM)NoYes (Stereo 44.1kHz)Yes (Stereo)
SA-CD StereoNoYes (176kHz PCM)Yes (Stereo 44.1kHz)Yes (Stereo 44.1kHz)Yes

For dts, backward compatibility is built into format. The dts Digital Surround (5.1) is the basic core of dts, which is 48kHz at 5.1 channels. dts-HD High Resolution Audio is lossy, but provides 24bit/96kHz for 8 (7.1) channels. dts-HD Master Audio is the only lossless version of dts at 8 (7.1) channels. These two dts-HD formats both contain the basic dts Digital Surround (core 5.1) as a fallback for older decoders. Therefore, in the chart above, when playing dts HD HRA or dts HD MA audio formats via bitstream, you may end up with the fallback core dts Digital Surround via TOSLINK because of bandwidth limitations. Also, notice that for TOSLINK (optical digital), selecting Linear PCM will result in only stereo (2) channels (even if the original audio format was lossy like Dolby Digital and dts Digital Surround). Decoded and uncompressed 5.1 channel LPCM data from lossy Dolby Digital and dts Digital Surround consume too much bandwidth for the TOSLINK to handle. In the latest firmware (and confirmed to work at least on the PS3 Slim models), lossless LCPM BD audio is now converted to dts over optical when the PS3 is set to "Bitstream (Mixed).

For Dolby Digital, selecting bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD will force the PS3 to output regular Dolby Digital at 640kbps on the Fat PS3, while the Slim PS3 will output the bitsteam fine.

PS3 Video

The PS3 has many display options when playing back a game or video via the two video output ports: HDMI and AV Multi. Each supports carrying a variety of signals, but only HDMI carry the clearer digital signal, while the AV Multi only carry analog signals. Note that the other end of the HDMI or AV Multi cable connected to the actual display can have different type of connection plug(s) depending on the cable you buy. The following is a breakdown of the different signals and max resolutions using different cables and connection types.

Connection to PS3Connection to DisplayConnection TypeSignals CarriedMaximum ResolutionNotes
HDMIHDMIDigitalRGB or YCbCr1920x1080pDisplay requires HDCP support
HDMIDVI-DDigitalRGB1920x1080pDisplay requires HDCP support
AV MultiComponentAnalogYPbPr1920x1080p
AV MultiD5-TerminalAnalogYPbPr1920x1080pMainly used in Japan
AV MultiSCARTAnalogCVBS, Y/C, or RGBS (Composite Sync)720x480p (576p)Mainly used in Europe
AV MultiD-SubAnalogVGA (Sync on Green)720x480p (576p)Mainly used in Sony monitors
AV MultiD-SubAnalogVGA (RGBHV)720x480p (576p)Not Supported
AV MultiS-VideoAnalogY/C720x480i (576i)
AV MultiCompositeAnalogCVBS720x480i (576i)

Note that there are different D-Terminal signals (like D1-D5) that support different resolutions (the lower the number the lower the resolution). A specific D-Terminal numbered device supports all resolutions of a lower number D-Terminal signal. A D5-Terminal device can also support resolutions of D4-Terminal signal (and all resolutions below it). The following chart describes the various resolutions available via a D-Terminal cable connection.

D-Terminal SignalMax Resolution

Note that in PAL PS3, if you are outputing to a SDTV display, the sync is 50Hz. NTSC games and movies (at 60Hz) will have frames skipped to match 50Hz, so you may see motion skipping.
Previous generation consoles (like the PS2) used the Standard Definition TV (SDTV) primarily, but as display technology got improved in computers, it exceeded the capability of TV. In those days, SCART RBG had the most clear display, however if SCART RGB is connected to the SDTV, playing back video discs (like DVD and Blu-ray) will force the PS2 into component video output mode (YPbPr) and MacroVision protection will be inserted into the signal (the end result of seeing YPbPr input on RGB displays is green tinted imagery). Nowadays, High Definition TV (HDTV) were created that allowed the TV to catch up with current display technologies. The main improvements in HDTV are: higher resolution, more color depth, and larger color space.

These improvements are easier to understand when you know the technology used in the PS3 that handles displays. The PS3 normally uses a graphics chip (called the RSX) that has inside of it a memory buffer to hold data for all the colored dots that represent a picture on a screen. This information is sent to the video output, and the memory buffer is again filled with data for the next picture to be sent. Sending these pictures 60 times a second allows you to have video or games with 60 frames per second. Each colored dot is actually called a pixel, and each pixel value is represented in RGB. RGB stands for the primary colors of Red Green Blue. Combining different intensities of these primary colors allow you to reproduce different colors. Most LCD displays have a Red LED, Blue LED, and Green LED for each pixel to light it in any color. In the PS3, current technology use 8 bits to represent 256 (0-255) possible data values of brightness intensities for each of the R, G, and B component in a pixel. Therefore, in a pixel, the maximum brightness value for R, G, or B is 255, and the lowest is 0. Since each of the R, G, and B takes up 8 bits, the total bits needed to represent a dot (pixel) on the screen is 24 bits.

Given the above information, a "color range" would be defined by the possible colors that can be output from the three LEDs of RGB. LEDs that support the brightest intensity (value 255) and look the darkest when off (value 0), would have a larger color range or color gamut than low quality LEDs. A "color space" standard would define what those light intensities are, how the color should look, and how bright or dark they should be for given values of 0-255 in each of the RGB. Devices that support the standard must look the same when given same color values from RGB. In this case, the PS3 normally supports the sRGB color space standard, which is compatible with BT.601 (SDTV) and BT.709 (HDTV) color space standards. Similarly, the "color depth" would be defined as number of bits to represent each dot or pixel, and normally in the PS3 it is 24 bits per pixel (8 bits for each primary value of RGB). The "resolution" would be defined as the total dots going across and total dots going down for a screenful of data sent out of the RSX, for example 1280x720 for 1280 dots across and 720 dots down.

Besides RGB, another common video display technology you should be aware of is YPbPr and YCbCr. RGB video display technology divides colors into Red, Green, and Blue primary colors and normally stores and sends these data separately as R, G, and B. YCbCr divides colors into Luma (Y) and Chroma (CrCb) and sends these separately as Y, Cr, and Cb. Y is the brightness (from black to grey to white), while Cr and Cb subtracts red and blue elements from Y to get the final correct pixel color. It is possible to convert between RGB and YCbCr. YCbCr and YPbPr differ mainly in that YCbCr is digital and YPbPr is analog. When you use analog Component cables through AV-Multi, the green plug carries the Y (brightness), the blue plug carries the Pb (subtracts blue from Y signal), and the red plug carries the Pr (subtracts red from Y signal).

The PS3 can output two types of HDMI signals to the display: digital RGB or digital YCbCr. When playing games or using the XMB, you will always be using digital RGB because the RSX manipulates the data in RGB. Blu-ray, DVD, and AVCHD stores video data in digital YCbCr, so when you play back these content using a HDMI connection, you can select (via options) whether you want the PS3 to convert to RGB first then output, or just output YCbCr directly. If your display is not using HDMI, then the image data (game, XMB, or video) are further converted to YPbPr (analog component), RGBS (analog RGB with composite sync), CVBS (composite), or Y/C (S-video) depending on your connection type.

Note that "standard" VGA (carries analog RGBHV signals) common in computer displays is not supported by the PS3. VGA (uses 15-pin D-Sub connector) is an analog format which requires separate Red, Blue, Green, H-Sync (Horizontal) and V-Sync (Vertical) signal lines. PS3 does support a special "sync on green" variation supported on many Sony monitors where the horizontal and vertical sync is actually embedded in the Green signal line.

Supported PS3 Video FormatsExtension
MPEG-1.mpg .mpeg
MPEG-2 PS.m2v
MPEG-2 TS.m2v
MPEG-4 SP.mp4
AVCHD.mts .m2ts

PS3 Resolution (SD to Full HD)

The PlayStation 3 has support for "Full HD" (Full High Definition), which is generally defined as supporting the maximum resolution of 1920x1080p. The "p" signifies progressive, rather than "i" for interlaced. You can find out more about this at the HDTV resolutions page. Progressive means each image (picture sent out of RSX) is shown from top to bottom all at once rather than interleaving odd and even lines during each screen cycle (field). Previous television standards use SD (Standard Definition) of NTSC and PAL. Below is a video showing the PS3 displaying in "Full HD".

These are the resolutions supported by the PS3:
Display DefinitionResolution (NTSC PS3)Resolution (PAL PS3)
Full High Definition (HDTV)1920x1080p1920x1080p
High Definition (HDTV)1920x1080i1920x1080i
High Definition (HDTV)1280x720p1280x720p
Standard Definition (SDTV)720x480p720x576p
Standard Definition (SDTV)720x480i720x576i

It is important that you get a display that has the highest resolution possible (1920x1080p). Because your HDTV will scale and stretch any signal that is not native to its display size, you should also purchase games or video that can be output in the resolution of your display. Many PS3 games these days are able to software scale and stretch so the signal matches 1920x1080p, but the internal rendering resolution is actually lower. In many cases, the buffer is rendered in multiple passes before it gets passed to the HDTV. Each pass may be software scaled and stretched, or not, so you may get blocky and non-blocky images together on your display.

The standard software development kit from Sony given to game developers provide the following basic resolutions that can be scaled and stretched to 1920x1080p via API calls:

Note that the developer can always directly render to the buffer at a higher resolution in separate passes to provide better details like for example the Heads-Up Display and detailed photos and images inside the game.

PS3 Color Space (sRGB to x.v.Color)

sRGB, BT.601, and BT.709

A color space standard defines a specific range of colors, and how they should look from devices like HDTVs. Standard Definition television uses BT.601 color space standard, HDTV uses BT.709 (compatible with BT.601) color space standard, and computer displays uses sRGB (compatible with BT.709) color space standard. The PS3 supports all three standards, and uses different color space standards in different scenarios. The PS3 RSX buffer stores images in digital RGB format, in the sRGB color space. Blu-ray and DVD movies are stored in YCbCr format on disc and is output in YCbCr (BT.601 or BT.709 color space) or converted first to RGB (sRGB color space) depending on your setup options.

As previously mentioned, the RSX manipulates values of 0-255 for each of the primary colors of RGB. In television, because of the limitation of early analog signals (inclusive of converting digital to analog), using the full range of values in 8 bits (0-255) to represent each of the RGB primary colors left problems in the display. To compensate for these problems, the full range of values was limited to 16-235 instead of 0-255. So video content (like DVDs) and displays (like TVs) would treat all values lower than 16 as 16, and higher than 235 as 235. The darkest primary color value you get would be value 16, and the brightest primary color value you get would be 235. This SDTV standard became BT.601, which was then expanded upon into BT.709 in HDTV. The BT.709 standard got carried over into sRGB color standard used in PCs and computer displays. This meant a primary color value of 123 in BT.709 HDTV display should look the same as a primary color value of 123 in sRGB computer displays. However, in sRGB color space, values lower than 16 and values higher than 235 were valid colors, unlike in BT.601 and BT.709. sRGB color space content retained these values because computer displays (using analog RGBHV in VGA) were better than TV displays at the time (1998) when sRGB color space standard was defined from BT.709. This meant darker and lighter primary color values on computer monitors were viewable, while analog TVs couldn't handle them. It should also be noted that analog RGBHV used in VGA computer displays were also better than TV because all the primary elements were separated from each other, like the Horizontal Sync (H) and Vertical Sync (V).

RGB Limited/Full Option when using HDMI connection

If you are using a HDMI connection, the digital signal is better than the analog RGBHV in VGA (the PS3 does not support RGBHV, nor VGA connections). Because of the digital HDMI connection, analog problems associated with values less than 16 and values greater than 235 in TV do not exist. This meant you can output the full 0-255 primary color values to your HDTV untouched if it supports HDMI 1.3, and you also turn on RGB Full option in the PS3. The RGB Limited option was created to allow the PS3 to output to earlier HDTV displays that followed BT.709 in HDMI 1.2 protocol, which do not or could not support displaying 0-15 and 236-255 primary color values. Since these earlier BT.709 HDTV displays would not normally handle 0-15 and 236-255 values anyways, the PS3 scales or cuts out those values in the content before passing them to the HDTV. This is especially important for compatibility with PS3 Games and XMB, as the RSX sRGB color space had 0-255 primary color values, which would cause problems in these displays.

Super White option when using HDMI connection

The Super White On setting forces the PS3 to not scale or clip the video (DVD, Blu-ray, or AVCHD) primary color values to 16-235, but to pass 0-255 on to the display, when the PS3 is using YCbCr over HDMI. Normally, video content are supposed to contain only 16-235 for their primary color values. However, in certain cases the content will contain Super White signals (values 236-255) to highlight special areas of the display so they are super bright (like in menus). In certain cases values 0-15 (sometimes called Blacker than Black) will also exist on the DVD (for blackness calibration). These signals will normally not be passed to the display unless you turn on Super White on the PS3, and your HDTV can handle 0-255 YCbCr content (normally HDMI 1.3 compliant displays). Again, because the PS3 is using a digital connection via HDMI, analog problems associated with these out of bound values on old TV do not exist, so turning this option on is possible for HDTVs that support 0-255 YCbCr primary color values. When using HDMI Full RGB to play back video content (which will convert YCbCr content from disc or AVCHD to Full RGB), the Super White option has no effect (because this is not a YCbCr connection), but note that the 0-15 Blacker than Black (BTB) and 236-255 Super White (SW) content from the disc or AVCHD are ignored regardless. This may be a bug in firmware because what this means is that the only way to get BTB or SW content when playing back video from disc or AVCHD is to use YCbCr with Super White on. HDMI RGB connection with RGB Full ignores BTB and SW video content during conversion, and remaps 16-235 from the YCbCr video to Full RGB 0-255.

The following is a summary of the RGB Full/Limited and Super White options on the PS3.
HDMI TypeConnection Type0-1516-235236-255PS3 Application
RGBRGB FullRGB (0-255)PS3 Games, XMB
RGBRGB LimitedRGB (0-255) remapped to RGB (16-235)PS3 Games, XMB
RGBRGB FullYCbCr (16-235) remapped to RGB (0-255)Blu-ray, DVD, AVCHD
RGBRGB LimitedYCbCr (16-235) to RGB (16-235)Blu-ray, DVD, AVCHD
YCbCrSuper White OnBTB (0-15)YCbCr (16-235)SW (236-255)Blu-ray, DVD, AVCHD
YCbCrSuper White OffYCbCr (16-235)Blu-ray, DVD, AVCHD

Assuming you use a HDMI 1.3 connection, and the HDTV supports HDMI 1.3 with Full RGB, the following optimum settings should be made. If you are using the PS3 for games or XMB, you should use RGB Full. If you are playing back video, you have the option of using YCbCr or RGB, but you should choose YCbCr with Super White On. Many old equipment like AV receivers and HDTV may not support the newer HDMI 1.3 protocol that allows Full RGB, and they may miss up your calibration. Normally when playing back DVD on a PC application window, the darkest black background of the video should be a dark grey tint because PC's sRGB allows darker 0-15 primary values. If you try to calibrate the monitor so that the DVD video's darkest black is the blackest black, you won't see many darker colors in PC programs. And this is related to the problem with old HDTVs and especially old SDTVs. Old CRT TV technology had the darkest black the same color as the beam hitting the phosphor at the lowest value (which happens to be a dark grey color). HDTV emulated this color with the BT.709 color space, but many HDTV manufacturers set the blackest black to even darker values so the videos look nicer. This is why on many older HDTVs, PS3 games on PS3 RGB Limited setting looks better because those older HDTVs were calibrated with darker blacks to make DVDs look better. Forcing the PS3 games to have a reduced color gamut of 16-235 will match the color of these older HDTV displays. In these older HDTVs, setting PS3 Full RGB for games will end up with many shades of dark colors indistinguishable (similar to if you tried to run a PC application on a PC monitor adjusted for the darkest black of a DVD movie). So you should not calibrate your HDTVs darkness for video (and miss out on 0-15 and 236-255), but calibrate your HDTVs darkness for PS3 games and XMB (and get full 0-255). Perhaps in the future when there is an option for passing BTB and SW video data when in RGB Full mode, you won't need to use YCrCb output anymore and videos, games, and XMB can coexist in the same sRGB color space without color remapping.


Because HDMI Full RGB (and thus sRGB) had more bits left over for defining the color space (the inclusion of 0-15 and 235-255 primary color values), sRGB actually had a wider color range than BT.601 (SDTV) and BT.709 (HDTV). x.v.Color (or xvYCC) was created to allow YCbCr to catch up with Full RGB (sRGB) and use the data values from 0-15 and 236-255 to expand the color gamut and color space for video content when using the digital HDMI.

In order to utilize this larger color space, the storage medium (AVCHD), processor (PS3) and display (HDTV) all must be able to support x.v.Color. x.v.Color uses special mathematics defined in values 0-15 and 236-255 to expand the color space, not to mention the primary color values are no longer compatible with sRGB, BT.601, nor BT.709, as they point to brighter and darker ranges. To incorporate this wider color space, the HDTV must have better individual LEDs with the lowest darkness and highest brightness that fall within x.v.Color guidelines.

The following chart describes the x.v.Color color space specification and compares it with other standards.

TypeVisible CoverageWasted CoverageDescription
BT.60135%0%Current TV Standard
BT.70935%0%Current HDTV Standard
Standard RGB (sRGB)35%0%Current PC Standard
Adobe RGB (aRGB)50%0%Used in Photography
x.v.Color63% ??Next Generation HDTV
Adobe Wide Gamut RGB77.6%8%Used in Photography
CIE-LAB100%0%Total possible for human eyes

Note that the main purpose of x.v.Color is not complete coverage of CIE-LAB, but complete coverage of another standard called Munsell Color System (which was first used for describing paint colors). In that system, sRGB only covers about 55%, while x.v.Color has 100% coverage. Therefore, the above 63% of x.v.Color is a calculated figure. x.v.Color is not supported in DVD discs, and is currently not supported in Blu-ray discs either. x.v.Color is currently supported in AVCHD videos. x.v.Color won't be supported in PS3 games and XMB unless the larger x.v.Color color space is defined as a new standard for HDMI RGB (note that it won't be called sRGB color space anymore) and Deep Color is also supported (you can't use the special mathematics of 0-15 and 236-255 to expand the color gamut if Full RGB is using them for regular color values).

PS3 Color depth (True Color to Deep Color)

The number of bits used on the PS3 to display a single pixel of color is 24 bits, with 8 bits used for each of the Red, Green, and Blue primary colors. This is the same color depth used in computer displays and another name for it is True Color. If you have a HDMI RGB connection, Deep Color expands the number of bits per pixel to 30 bits total (10 bits per primary color), 36 bits total (12 bits per primary color), or 48 bits total (16 bits per primary color). The increase in bits provide the PS3 with the ability to use more colors in a given color space standard, allowing gradual transitions between two similar colors, lessening banding effects.

The following chart describes the various Deep Color specifications compared to previous standards.

TypeTotal Bits Per PixelBits Per Primary (RGB)Primary RGB ValuesMax ColorsDescription
High Color16 bits5 bits3232768Previous PC standard
True Color24 bits8 bits25616,777,216Current PS3/PC standard
Deep Color30 bits10 bits10241,073,741,824Next Generation HDTV
Deep Color36 bits12 bits409668,719,476,736Next Generation HDTV
Deep Color48 bits16 bits65536281,474,976,710,656Next Generation HDTV

HDTVs have display controllers that can manipulate the sending of brightness voltage to the LEDs in incremental values. For 8 bit controllers you can send 256 distinct voltages (valued from 0 to 255) to the LED, with 255 representing the maximum voltage possible, and 0 representing the lowest possible. To support Deep Color, new 10, 12, or 16 bit controllers would need to be implemented so that they support incremental voltage values to the LEDs ranging from 0-1023 for 30 bit per pixel displays, 0-4095 for 36 bits per pixel displays, and 0-65535 for 48 bits per pixel displays. Note that you also need a PS3 game or XMB that outputs more than 24 bits per pixel (Life with PlayStation is the only one currently) in digital RGB via HDMI, as DVD, Blu-ray, and AVCHD currently do not support Deep Color. It may be possible that future Blu-ray and AVCHD specs support Deep Color content via YCbCr directly, or converted to Deep Color digital RGB for display. When it comes to lcd tvs you may wish to investigate what the situation is.

Note that when you use Deep Color, it does not necessarily mean you are expanding the color range defined by sRGB. Increasing the RGB primary bit depth to 16 bits Deep Color (48 bits per pixel) only rescales sRGB color space's normal primary color values of 0-255 to 0-65536, allowing more granularity in-between the min max color range values. In this case, a primary value of 255 in 24 bits per pixel True Color would be the same as a primary value of 65536 in 48 bits per pixel Deep Color. Deep Color do not affect RGB Full/Limited and Super White display options, as those options pertain to 24 bits per pixel True Color mode only.

x.v.Color together with Deep Color

Having a bigger color space of x.v.Color but only 24 bits (8 bits per primary color) to represent all the fine granularity in the wider range of colors actually creates a worse picture because banding would be more prominent (each RGB LED component still lights up in 256 value increments, but now with a wider range of intensity or brightness). To keep the color banding down, Deep Color support (with the greater number color granularity possible using more bits) is usually included along with x.v.Color in HDTV displays. Similarly, if you have Deep Color but a normal BT.709 color space display (not x.v.Color) the technology may have been wasted. To give an example, in a 48 bit per pixel Deep Color display (16 bit per primary), if the LEDs do not have a wide enough range of brightness (x.v.Color), it would be difficult if not impossible to manipulate micro LED voltages for 65536 possible voltage increments (Deep Color). In other words, the longer the string (x.v.Color color space), the easier it is to chop it up into many tiny pieces (65536 pieces for 48 bit per pixel Deep Color).

PlayStation 3 Hardware

The PS3 is very similar to the PC (Personal Computer) in that the many of its internal parts are replaceable. Although not as flexible as the PC, you can upgrade certain components of a PS3 with more stable, power efficient, better versions as long as you know what parts are compatible. In particular, the harddrive, Blu-ray lens, heatsink fan, power supply, and thermal compound are commonly replaced by the advanced tinkerer.

Hardware Faults

Like all electronics, certain parts are due to fail under bad conditions. When the PS3 detects these hardware faults, it has a few methods of providing the user hints on what is wrong.

Yellow Light of Death

The "Yellow Light of Death" or YLOD is the common phrase people use to describe the following sequence when they try to turn on their PS3:

The sequence above may vary a bit but you do see the flashing yellow light (sometimes shows up as orange) that normally you would not see when operating your PS3. The YLOD is a general hardware fault that can mean a lot of things. However, one of the problems is cracked solder that leads the PS3 to think one of its internal chips is not connected or is broken somehow. Cracked solder can happen when the chips get too hot (RSX most likely) and leads the motherboard to start bending, which may crack the solder. Changing the power supply (lower the average wattage going to the chips to lower the heat) and better thermal compound (heat dissipates faster to the heatsink) may prevent this error from occurring. However, if your PS3 has already had the YLOD, then you can reflow your motherboard every few months to keep it working (but it is not a permanent fix as the YLOD usually comes back).

Red Screen of Death

The "Red Screen of Death" usually happens in later PS3 Fat models right after you have turned on the PS3. It can happen right after the PS3 logo and wave animation appears. It is a mysterious error that seem to be software related during the checking process (perhaps some corruption in nand flash or harddrive block). When the error occurs, the screen turns red, and you see a message:

A serious error has occurred. Contact technical support for assistance.

This message is stated in eight different languages.

PS3 Motherboard

Different PS3 models usually indicate major changes (like CECHC and CECHE removing the PS2 Emotion Engine and substituted it with software based emulation.) For the CECHG and later models, PS2 hardware were completely removed, so hardware allowing even PS2 software emulation was taken out. However, what is not usually known is that even within each model there are about three or four revisions of the motherboard. You can tell which revision you have by looking at the serial number of your PS3 motherboard. These PS3 motherboard serial numbers (or more accurately called Sony part numbers) are a limited set and never change. The following is a list of all known PS3 motherboard serial numbers. Note that this is not the same as the PS3 serial number found on the back of your PS3 case, which is unique per PS3 in a format like: XX-XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXX-CECHXXX (for Fat PS3).

PS3 ModelMotherboard Serial NumberNotes

PS3 Motherboard Images


The architecture of the PS3 motherboard divides the main pieces of the system into 256MB XDR memory, Cell, RSX, and 256MB GDDR3. The HDMI display is connected to the 256MB GDDR3 (the video memory). The communication path also lines up in that order. Therefore, communication with the 256MB XDR memory must go through Cell, and communication with the GDDR3 must go through the RSX. More info on each of these components follows.

Main System Memory

The PS3 has 256MB of 64 bit bus Rambus XDR main system memory. Some models use four 64MB Samsung chips, while other models uses four 64MB Elpida chips. Note that another 256MB of GDDR3 memory is located inside the RSX chip using four 64MB Samsung chips. The earlier models with hardware PS2 compatibility also contained an extra 32MB of RDRAM using two 16MB Samsung chips.

The PS3 operating system (XMB) uses up 43MB of XDR memory (confirmed) in the latest firmware versions, leaving around 213MB for games. Note that available memory seem to increase with each firmware release. It is rumored a 24MB version is available for many first-party developers currently. In earlier firmware versions, more XDR memory were reserved, and not only that, additional GDDR3 memory were also reserved by the OS. Games compiled using earlier SDKs (with matching earlier OS restrictions) will run expecting less free available memory than games compiled using later SDKs.

PS3 SDK VersionReserved XDRReserved GDDR3TotalDate
56MB32MB88MBDec, 2006
1.6052MB32MB84MBMay, 2007
2.2043MBMBMBMar, 2008

Note that PS3 games that need special features from the system would need extra memory allocated. The following is a typical breakdown of the memory requirements from SDK 1.60.
FeatureMemory required
Message Dialog0MB
On-Screen Keyboard7MB
Remote Play8MB
HDD access5MB
Network features8MB
Friends list features24MB
Video Chat26MB
Voice Chat8MB
In-game mic setup8MB
In-game webbrowser40MB+

A sample of the Memory chips in different PS3 models:
TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
Rambus XDR64MB400MHzElpidaEDX5116ACSE-3C-E256MB total (4 chips) for PS3 System Memory (Initial Models)
Rambus XDR64MB400MHzSamsungK4Y50164UC-JCB3256MB total (4 chips) for PS3 System Memory (Initial Models)
Rambus XDR64MB400MHzSamsungK4Y50164UE-JCB3256MB total (4 chips) for PS3 System Memory (CECHG,CECHK)
Rambus XDR64MB400MHzElpidaX5116ADSE-3C-E256MB total (4 chips) for PS3 System Memory (CECH-20xx)
Rambus XDR128MB400MHzElpidaX1032BASE-3C-F256MB total (2 chips) for PS3 System Memory (CECH-21xx and later)
GDDR364MB700MHzSamsungK4J52324QC-SC14256MB total (4 chips) for PS3 Graphics Memory
RDRAM16MB800MHz54-pinSamsungK4R271669F32MB total (2 chips) for Hardware PS2 Compatibility System Memory

Cell Broadband Engine

The Cell CPU has one 3.2Ghz PPE (Power Processor Element) with two threads and eight 3.2Ghz SPE (Synergistic Processing Elements).

A small sampling of the serial numbers by model number.

PS3 ModelCELL SerialDie TechDie Size

The PPE is a general purpose CPU, while the eight SPE are geared towards processing data in parallel. One SPE is disabled to increase yield, so the PS3 can have at most 9 threads runnings at the same time (2 from PPE and 7 from SPE). Note that one SPE is reserved for the hypervisor, so PS3 programs can take advantage of 8 threads. Both the PPE and SPE of the Cell are 64 bit, and manipulate data in Big Endian. The Cell was introduced at 90nm. Later, PS3 model numbers starting with CECHG uses the 65nm version, while the PS3 Slim (CECH-20xx) used the 45nm version.

RSX - Reality Synthesizer

The RSX is a graphical processor unit (GPU) based off of the nVidia 7800GTX graphics processor, and is a G70/G71 hybrid with some modifications. The RSX has separate vertex and pixel shader pipelines.

The following is a small sample of serial numbers of the RSX by model number.

PS3 ModelRSX SerialDie TechDie Size

The following are relevant facts about the RSX... More features are revealed in the following chart delineating the differences between the RSX and the nVidia 7800 GTX.

DifferenceRSXnVidia 7800GTX
GDDR3 Memory bus width128bit256bit
Post Transform and Lighting Cache63 max vertices45 max vertices
Total Texture Cache Per Quad of Pixel Pipes (L1 and L2)96kB48kB
CPU interfaceFlexIOPCI-Express 16x

Other RSX features/differences include:

Note that the cache (Post Transform and Lighting Vertext Cache) is located between the vector shader and the triangle setup.

A sample flow of data inside the RSX would see them first processed by 8 vertex shaders. The output are then sent to the 24 active pixel shaders, which can involve the 24 active texture units. Finally, the data is passed to the 8 Raster Operation Pipeline units (ROPs), and on out to the GDDR3. Note that the pixel shaders are grouped into groups of four (called Quads). There are 7 Quads, with 1 redundant, leaving 6 Quads active, which provides us with the 24 active pixel shaders listed above (6 times 4 equals 24). Since each Quad has 96kB of L1 and L2 cache, the total RSX texture cache is 576kB. General RSX features include 2x and 4x hardware anti-aliasing, and support for Shader Model 3.0.

Although the RSX has 256MB of GDDR3 RAM, not all of it is useable. The last 4MB is reserved for keeping track of the RSX internal state and issued commands. The 4MB of GPU Data contains RAMIN, RAMHT, RAMFC, DMA Objects, Graphic Objects, and the Graphic Context. The following is a breakdown of the address within 256MB of the RSX.

Address RangeSizeComment
0000000-FBFFFFF252 MBFramebuffer
FF80000-FFFFFFF512KBRAMIN: Instance Memory
FF90000-FF93FFF16KBRAMHT: Hash Table
FFD0000-FFDFFFF64KBGraphic Objects
FFE0000-FFFFFFF128KBGRAPH: Graphic Context

RSX Libraries

The RSX is dedicated to 3D graphics, and developers are able to use different API libraries to access its features. The easiest way is to use high level PSGL, which is basicially OpenGL|ES with programmable pipeline added in. At a lower level developers can use LibGCM, which is an API that talks to the RSX at a lower level. PSGL is actually implemented on top of LibGCM. For the advanced programmer, you can program the RSX by sending commands to it directly using C or assembly. This can be done by setting up commands (via FIFO Context) and DMA Objects and issuing them to the RSX via DMA calls.

Speed, Bandwidth, and Latency

Because of the aforementioned layout of the communication path between the different chips, and the latency and bandwidth differences between the various components, there are different access speeds depending on the direction of the access in relation to the source and destination. The following is a chart showing the speed of reads and writes to the GDDR3 and XDR memory from the viewpoint of the Cell and RSX. Note that these are measured speeds (rather than calculated speeds) and they should be worse if RSX and GDDR3 access are involved because these figures were measured when the RSX was clocked at 550Mhz and the GDDR3 memory was clocked at 700Mhz. The shipped PS3 has the RSX clocked in at 500Mhz (front and back end, although the pixel shaders run separately inside at 550Mhz). In addition, the GDDR3 memory was also clocked lower at 650Mhz.

Processor256MB XDR256MB GDDR3
Cell Read16.8GB/s16MB/s
Cell Write24.9GB/s4GB/s
RSX Read15.5GB/s22.4GB/s
RSX Write10.6GB/s22.4GB/s

Because of the VERY slow Cell Read speed from the 256MB GDDR3 memory, it is more efficient for the Cell to work in XDR and then have the RSX pull data from XDR and write to GDDR3 for output to the HDMI display. This is why extra texture lookup instructions were included in the RSX to allow loading data from XDR memory (as opposed to the local GDDR3 memory).

PS3 Flash memory

The PS3 has 256 megabytes of flash memory to store firmware, using two NAND 128MB Samsung flash chips. The installed firmware data is interleaved between the two flash chips for speed. To prevent errors, Error Correcting Code Checksum (ECC) is added/used on the data in the PS3 flash chips. In newer PS3, a single 16MB Spansion flash chip is used.

TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
NAND Flash128MB30ns3.3V48-pinSamsungK9F1G08U0A-PIB0256MB total (2 chips) for older model PS3 flash memory
Flash16MB80ns3V56-pin, 100nmSpansionS29GL128N90TFIR216MB total (1 chip) for newer model PS3 flash memory
Flash16MB80ns3V56-pin, 100nmSamsungK8Q2815UQB-P14B16MB total (1 chip) for CECHL PS3 flash memory

Because of the smaller flash chips in later versions, newer firmware versions allow for the firmware data to be partially stored on the harddrive (instead of totally inside the flash), making the flash purely responsible for holding data involved in the critical booting up process. This allows for cheaper flash chips, while using the harddrive for later bootup stages. Below is a layout of the directories inside the earlier flash versions:

  • data
  • ps1emu
  • ps2emu
  • sys
  • external
  • internal
  • vsh

Obviously, PS1 and PS2 emulation code on PS3 would reside in ps1emu and ps2emu. Most of the executable files have extension .sprx and are encrypted, (most likely decrypted using the SPE of the CELL). There are four main flash partitions: flash0, flash1, flash2, and flash3. Most of the data is in flash0 and flash1.

PS3 Firmware versions

The PS3 firmware is updated frequently. The following is a brief description of each version.

FirmwareRelease DateComment
1.00Nov 11, 2006Original Japanese PS3 firmware
1.02NAIncluded in many PS3 launch games
1.10Nov 12, 2006ATRAC audio, PSN support, Chinese language in browser
1.11Nov 28, 2006Account management option
1.30Dec 06, 2006BD remote support, backup and restore PS3 system
1.31Dec 13, 2006PS2 games needing harddrive now supported
1.32Dec 21, 2006Online gaming functions updated
1.50Jan 23, 2007AOSS wireless support, Korean input
1.51Feb 02, 2007PS3 gaming support updated
1.54Mar 01, 2007USB camera support updated
1.55NAIncluded in PS3
1.60Mar 22, 2007Background downloading, Folding@Home, WMA audio, MJPEG, AVCHD
1.70Apr 19, 2007PSN downloaded PlayStation game support
1.80May 24, 2007DLNA, Internet Remote Play, USB printer, RGB Full, Super White, x.v.Color
1.81Jun 14, 2007PS2 online gaming improved
1.82Jul 05, 2007AVC High Profile (H.264/MPEG-4)
1.90Jul 13, 2007Custom background pic, emoticons, audio CD upsampling
1.92Sep 04, 2007PS2 gaming support updated
1.93Sep 13, 2007Networking updated
1.94NAIncluded in "Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction"
2.00Nov 08, 2007Playlists, Information Board, Canon printers, PlayStation Eye support
2.01Nov 20, 2007Stability in PS3 games, Information Board, and PS2 games.
2.10Dec 17, 2007DivX, VC-1 (WMV), Blu-ray Disc Profile 1.1 support
2.15NAPS3 Test units only
2.16NAIncluded in "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue"
2.17Mar 13, 2008PS3 gaming support updated
2.20Mar 25, 2008Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0 support, DivX subtitles, BD-R version 1.2 discs
2.30Apr 15, 2008New PlayStation Store, LPCM DTS-HD MA and DTS-HD HRA support
2.35May 14, 2008PS3 gaming support updated
2.36Jun 17, 2008PlayStation gaming support updated
2.40Jul 02, 2008In-game XMB, Trophies, System Clock, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, DTS-ES Matrix
2.41Jul 08, 2008Stability updated
2.42Jul 30, 2008PS2 and PS3 gaming support updated
2.43Sep 17, 2008Video rental in Japan
2.50Oct 12, 2008Auto-off for Wireless Controller, Network Printers, HP Printers, Flash 9
2.51Oct 27, 2008PS3 Test units only
2.52Nov 05, 2008PS3 gaming support updated
2.53Dec 02, 2008Full Screen Flash
2.60Jan 21, 2009Picture Gallery, DivX 3.11
2.70Apr 02, 2009Text Chat, Copy and Paste Text
2.76May 15, 2009Security related
2.80Jun 23, 2009Increased Message Size (64 chars), Faster XMB, Security related (Remote Play)
3.00Sep 01, 2009Redesigned XMB
3.01Sep 14, 2009Freeze fixes.
3.10Nov 18, 2009Facebook support, photo grid view.
3.15Dec 10, 2009Minis game support. PS3 to PS3 data transfer.
3.21Apr 01, 20103D output support. Linux and OtherOS support disabled.
3.30Apr 21, 20103D gaming support. Adobe Flash upgraded. Lower memory footprint
3.40Jun 01, 2010Deep Color output Setting (12 or 8 bits primary). PlayStation Move. PlayStation Plus features.
3.41Jul 27, 2010Recommended products listed in PlayStation Store. 15 seconds store downloaded preview clips.
3.42Sep 06, 2010Disable USB Jailbreak dongles.
3.50Sep 21, 2010Blu-ray 3D. Facebook. Grief Reporting.
3.55Dec 07, 2010More security patches to disable jailbreak.
3.56Jan 26, 2011Security Patch.

The firmware updates for consumer PS3 units are located in a file named PS3UPDAT.PUP. The firmware data can be downloaded manually from the internet (location: http://www.jp.playstation.com/ps3/update/ ), or automatically by the PS3 if an internet connection is enabled. If you are updating manually, place the PS3UPDAT.PUP in location /PS3/UPDATE/PS3UPDAT.PUP of the memory stick or USB storage device so the PS3 can find it. Note that you need to do this each time you upgrade your harddrive in the newer PS3 models (because the firmware is partially stored on the harddrive and changing harddrives require system files from firmware update file to be re-written on to the harddrive). If this is the case, the PS3 will request this PS3UPDAT.PUP before formatting your new harddrive, and when you have done so, press "SELECT" and "START" buttons on the controller to tell the PS3 to start reading the firmware file.

The PS3UPDAT.PUP file is signed and packed in SCE format and the files and structures are in Big Endian. When unpacked, there are firmware update .pkg and files for many chips like the SYSCON (System Controller), FLASH, Blu-Ray controller, and Bluetooth. Other files include the System Manager configuration file (DEFAULT.SPP) normally managed by the SPL (Secure Profile Loader), and permissions related ACL (Access Control List) files. One of the most important file is CORE_OS_PACKAGE.pkg (which which is zlib compressed and then encrypted in that order) contains a copy of major files located in one of the FLASH regions (files like lv1.self and isoldr). Note that decrypted and uncompressed .pkg files can themselves have a second layer of encryption and most are signed. There is a process called Update Manager (process 6) from the Hypervisor that handles the decryption and then decompression of PS3UPDAT.PUP files. Files finally stored into the FLASH regions have their associated SHA-1 hash value stored in the SYSCON EEPROM for authentication and verification purposes.

Note that starting with firmware 3.40, the PS3 is able to download patches to previous firmware, rather than download the whole new firmware. The patch file is named PS3PATCH.PUP, and contains only files that are changed from the previous firmware version. This saves on download time. You cannot upgrade a harddrive with only a PS3PATCH.PUP in the removable media (for PS3 that contain 16MB of flash), as this patch file does not contain everything needed to boot up the PS3.

The consumer PS3 units checks on the internet for new firmware versions and their location via this address:


If your machine is not a United States PS3, substitute the two "us" in the address above with one of the following:

The Demonstration PS3 Units checks on the internet for new firmware versions and their location via this address:



The following chart describes what features were included in each HDMI protocol revision. Each newer revision is required to support all "mandatory" features of previous versions. DVD Audio, introduced as an "optional" feature of HDMI 1.1, is not supported in the PS3. Although early PS3 models support the "optional" SACD feature in HDMI 1.2, it does not send the DSD undecoded, but always decodes it first to Linear PCM. Some optional HDMI 1.3 features, like Deep Color and xvYCC, are included in the PS3, while bitstream transmission of Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio were left out.

The early first generation Fat PS3 uses the Silicon Image Vastlane SiI9132CBU, which implements HDMI 1.3a mandatory protocols and the optional deep color and xvYCC features. The SiI9132 did not implement the optional bitstream transmission of Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio, which is why for these two audio modes, the PS3 must do the transcoding itself and output LPCM (which even basic HDMI 1.0 protocol can handle). The paired receiving end chip with same feature set should be a SiI9133. The first Silicon Image chip that supported bitstream Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio is the SiI9134 (with receiving end of SiI9135). In later models of the Fat PS3 (CECHL), Panasonic manufactures the HDMI 1.3a protocol chip (Panasonic MN864709), but it contains the same bitstream limitations.

The Slim PS3 has an upgraded HDMI 1.3c protocol chip (Panasonic MN8647091), and this time bitstream of Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD MA is finally implemented, so you can use your Audio Video Receiver to decode the audio signal. In addition, HDMI CEC (Bravia Sync) is now fully supported.

Note that although HDMI CEC wiring is mandatory via HDMI 1.0 (a pin on the port is dedicated to CEC), actual implementation support for the CEC specification protocol (introduced in HDMI 1.2a) is optional. That is why the PS3 Fat did not have a CEC Controller chip attached to that pin, so all HDMI-CEC commands are ignored. The PS3 Slim does have a CEC Controller implemented inside the Panasonic HDMI chip, so it does support HDMI-CEC (Bravia Sync).

HDMI versionRelease DateMandatory FeaturesFatSlimOptional FeaturesFatSlim
1.0Dec 09, 20021920x1200p 24bits (60Hz)
Basic CEC Port
1.1May 20, 2004YesYesDVD AudioNoNo
1.2Aug 09, 2005YesYesSuper Audio CD (DSD bitstream)Yes*No
1.2aDec 14, 2005YesYesFull CEC SpecificationNoYes
1.3Jun 22, 20062560x1600p 24bits (75Hz)YesYesDeep Color (30,36,48bpp)YesYes
2560x1600p 30bits (60Hz)YesYes
1920x1200p 36bits (75Hz)YesYes
1920x1200p 48bits (60Hz)YesYes
xvYCC (x.v.Color)YesYes
Bitstream Dolby TrueHDNoYes
Bitstream dts-HD MANoYes
1.3aNov 10, 2006Compliance testing releaseYesYesCEC Modifications
Super Audio CD (DST bitstream)
1.3bMar 26, 2007Compliance testing releaseNoYes
1.3b1Nov 09, 2007Compliance testing releaseNoYes
1.3cAug 25, 2008Compliance testing releaseNoYes
1.4May 28, 20094096x2160p 24bits (24Hz)
3840x2160p 24bits (30Hz)
HDMI Ethernet
3D Over HDMI
Audio Return Channel
Automotive Connection System
Extra color spaces
Micro HDMI Connector
NoNo4096x2160p 30bits (24Hz)
4096x2160p 36bits (24Hz)
1920x1200p 48bits (60Hz)

* The Super Audio CD support was not included in all first generation Fat models, only earlier models. Also, although HDMI 1.2 allows for SACD support, these early Fat PS3 models decodes the DSD before sending it down the HDMI, so only HDMI 1.0 features are used, and the DSD signal is never bitstreamed.

PS3 Harddrive

The PS3 uses a SATA (SATA-150) controller that has a transfer speed of 1.5 Gb/s. For compatibility, if you have a SATA-300 (sometimes called SATA-II or SATA2) harddrive, you should set the harddrive via jumper to use the slower SATA-150 speed, instead of default 3 Gb/s of SATA-300. Note that all the PS3 models come with 5400RPM drives. You can purchase 7200RPM drives, but the speed increase are insignificant when price is taken into consideration. The file system of the internal PS3 harddrive is encrypted (256-bit AES-CBC encryption), and GameOS formats it to the proprietary Cell File System (CFS), which is very similar to UFS2 (with Sony's added encryption layer).

PS3 ModelManufacturerModelSizeSeekCacheTransfer SpeedComments
CECHASeagateMomentus ST96812AS60GB12.5ms8MB42Mb/sSATA-150
CECHBSeagateLD25 Series ST920217AS20GB16ms2MB57Mb/sSATA-150
CECHCSeagateMomentus ST96812AS60GB12.5ms8MB42Mb/sSATA-150
CECHESeagateMomentus ST980811AS80GB8MBSATA-150
CECHGSeagateLD25 Series ST9402115AS40GB16ms2MBSATA-150
CECHHSeagateLD25 Series ST9402115AS40GB16ms2MBSATA-150
HitachiTravelstar 5K160 HTS541640J9SA0040GB11ms8MB67Mb/sSATA-150
CECHKFujitsuMHZ2080BH80GB12ms8MB300Mb/sSATA-300, PMR
CECHLFujitsuMHZ2080BH80GB12ms8MB300Mb/sSATA-300, PMR
HitachiTravelstar 5K250 HTS542580K9SA0080GB11ms8MB83Mb/sSATA-150
CECHPFujitsuMHZ2160BH160GB12ms8MB300Mb/sSATA-300 PMR
ToshibaMK1652GSX160GB12ms8MB100Mb/sSATA-300 PMR
CECHQFujitsuMHZ2160BH160GB12ms8MB300Mb/sSATA-300 PMR
CECH-20xxToshibaMK1255GSX120GB12ms8MB300Mb/sSATA-300 PMR
Hitachi5K500 HTS545012B9SA00120GB11ms8MB83Mb/sSATA-150

You can upgrade the size of your SATA harddrive. However, you must find a 2.5" SATA drive that is 9.5mm or lower in height or it won't fit in the internal drive bay of the PS3. The maximum size of the internal harddrive that the PS3 supports is 1TB (TeraBytes). It is possible to use eSATA to hook up an externally cased 3.5" harddrive, but it would need to be powered separately, and the drive would sit outside of the PS3 (the 1TB limit still applies).

The PS3 also supports external harddrives (via the USB port) using the FAT32 file system format. You can format it to any size up to 8TB, which is the theoretical drive size limit of FAT32. There have been verified success of 2TB external harddrives working with the PS3. The whole drive needs to be formatted into a single 2TB FAT32 partition using special software tools like fat32format.exe that can handle large drives. Note that FAT32 supports a maximum file size of 4GB.

PS3 Blu-ray Drive

The Blu-ray drive in the PS3 supports dual-layer Blu-ray discs. One layer can store 25GB, so a dual-layer disc can store 50GB. The filesystem is UDF V2.5 (called DISCFS). There is a mandatory AACS encryption (using 128-bit AES) on all Blu-ray movie discs, and data is stored in the AACS folder of the Blu-ray disc. In addition, the Blu-ray disc supports BD-ROM Mark and BD+ encryption systems. The BD-ROM Mark stores decryption keys on the disc that are not readable or writeable by ordinary means (analog). These marks are created by special duplication machines, and normal Blu-ray recorders for consumers (that can create BD-R and BD-RE discs) are not able to make these marks. A regular consumer Blu-ray drive (like in the PS3) has special hardware that can only read, and not write, the BD-ROM mark. BD+ allows new encryption codes to be stored on a per Blu-ray disc basis (located in BDSVM folder on the disc, and the acronym stands for Blu-ray Disc Secure Virtual Machine), thus the Blu-ray drive could run new code off of the disc and remove the code when the disc is ejected. BD+ can also be used to upgrade and patch cracked firmware. The BD+ code resembles the 32 bit DLX instruction set in big endian, and is run/interpreted by a virtual machine running in the Blu-ray drive.

The Blu-ray drive speed is as follows:

AACS protection for Blu-ray movies

AACS protects Blu-ray movies by having the Blu-ray disc store 4 pieces of information, a set of media keys, a volume id key, an encrypted title key, and the encrypted movie file(s). The Blu-ray player stores 2 pieces of information, a device key (and associated sequence keys), and a host private key (certificate). To decrypt, first the media keys from the disc is merged with the Blu-ray device key (and associated sequence keys). The result is a processing key. The disc volume id key (stored as a BD-ROM mark on the Blu-ray disc) is obtained after providing the Blu-ray drive's host private key to the special BD-ROM mark reader also in the Blu-ray drive. The processing key and disc volume id key is then processed using AES algorithm to obtain the Volume unique key. Having the Volume unique key allows decryption of the disc's encrypted title key, which results in the unencrypted title key. The unencrypted title key can decrypt the disc's encrypted movie.

Regular protection for Blu-ray games

Blu-ray games (PS3 games) do not use AACS. Each PS3 Blu-ray game normally includes a firmware update file (PS3UPDAT.PUP) to update a PS3 that does not have internet access. The version is normally the minimum PS3 firmware version needed to run the Blu-ray game.

The directory layout on Blu-ray games are as follows:

Blu-ray Daughterboard

The Blu-ray drive's controller board is coupled with the PS3 it came in, so you cannot swap Blu-ray drives (along with its controller) into another PS3 without having the identification numbers corrected on the controller of the drive (and/or motherboard of the PS3). You can, however, remove just the drive (without controller) and swap it into another PS3 without problems as long as the drives are similar. The following are the Blu-ray daughterboard serial numbers matched with the motherboard model.

Blu-ray Chips

The drive controller contains a BGA-sized 2MB flash memory chip for Blu-ray drive firmware code, with the contents encrypted. In addition to this, there is a 8MB SDRAM working memory chip. Each drive contains a unique identification number, possibly stored in the SPI Serial Interface NOR Macronix flash chip. This chip or the flash chip probably stores the device key (and associated sequence keys), and the host private key.
The Blu-ray drive is controlled by the Sony CXD5065 Digital Signal Processor chip and the Sony CXA2720 Front End Processor chip. Motors are driven by Rohm BA5888FP and Rohm BD7956FS.
TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
Flash2MB3VSpansionS99-50111-001PS3 Blu-ray firmware chip
Flash1MBSpansionS29AL008DPS3 Blu-ray firmware chip (CECHJ and later models)
SDRAM8MB133MHzSamsungK4S641632K-UC75PS3 Blu-ray working memory chip
SDRAM8MBESMTM12L64164A-7TGPS3 Blu-ray working memory chip (CECHJ and later models)
NOR Flash128KB85MHzMacronixMX25L1005MC-12GPS3 Blu-ray flash chip

Blu-ray Lens

Note that the lens in the Blu-ray drive went through various evolutions as newer PS3 models were released. Many of the initial 40GB models (CECHG) used a cheaper version of Blu-ray lens, which had a high failure rate, requiring replacement.

Blu-ray lens modelDescriptionPS3 models
KEM-400AAAThe original with single lens (includes mount)CECHA-CECHE
KES-400AAASingle lens using cheaper parts.CECHG
KEM-410ACAThere are two lens, one for CD/DVD, and another one for Blu-ray (includes mount)CECHH
KES-410ACAThere are two lens, one for CD/DVD, and another one for Blu-ray.CECHH
KES-450ACAThere are two lens, one for CD/DVD, and another one for Blu-ray.CECH-20xx

PS3 Wireless Modules

The PS3 contains two wireless technologies, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0. It is not possible for both to be used at the same time, so the PS3 alternates between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication at a very fast frequency using time division multiplexing. Both wireless capabilities are powered by the Marvell 88W8580 chip. In models CECHL and later, this wireless module became part of the motherboard, and is no longer on a separate daughterboard.


The Wi-Fi module uses two internal antennas and allows the PS3 to communicate with access points and Wi-Fi devices like the Sony PSP. The Wi-Fi module contains a 16MB ISSI SDRAM memory chip, and a 64KB SPI Serial Interface NOR Macronix flash chip.

TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
NOR Flash64KB85MHz3V8-pinMacronixMX25L512MC-12GPS3 Wi-Fi firmware chip
SDRAM16MB166MHz, 6ns3.3V90-ballISSIIS42S32400B-6BLPS3 Wi-Fi working memory chip
RAM16MBNanyaNT5SV8M16FS-6KPS3 Wi-Fi working memory chip (CECHJ and later models)


The Bluetooth in the PS3 supports a maximum of eight devices concurrently. With the PS3 console using up one master slot, it leaves seven empty slots for connecting with Bluetooth devices (like Sixaxis and Dualshock3 controllers). The Bluetooth is version 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), supporting a maximum of 2.1 megabits per second data transfer rate. The Bluetooth controller contains 1MB of NOR flash memory using a Spansion chip and another 1MB of NOR flash memory using a SST chip.

TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
NOR Flash1MB3.3VSpansionS99AL008D002PS3 Bluetooth flash chip
NOR Flash1MB70ns3VSSTSST39VF800A-70-4I-M1QEPS3 Bluetooth flash chip

PS3 Flash Memory Card Module

Earlier PS3 models have a flash memory card module, allowing the usage of Memory Stick cards, SD cards, and Compact Flash cards. The controller has a 128KB SST flash chip.

TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
Flash128KB70nsSSTSST39VF010-70-4C-WHEPS3 Flash Memory Card Firmware chip

You can read and store data from various directories on the flash memory cards when inserted into the PS3:

/PS3/UPDATE/PS3PUP.DATSystem Update File
/PS3/PHOTO/Photo files and folders
/PS3/MUSIC/Music files and folders
/PS3/VIDEO/Video files and folders
/PS3/OTHEROS/OTHEROS.SELFLinux and other OS install files
/PS3/EXPORTS/PSV/*.PSVGame saves backup
/PS3/SAVEDATA/Game saves

PS3 Heatsink

The PS3 uses Furukawa Electric heatsinks to cool the Cell and RSX chips. As the PS3 went through various hardware revisions, the cooling technology was also updated. In summary, models CECHA to CECHC used five copper heatpipes to cool the chips. CECHE to CECHG used 2 copper heatpipes. From CECHH and later models, no heatpipes were used, although Cell and RSX aluminum heatsink cooling was introduced. Variations (merged block and separate blocks) of this aluminum heatsink started with CECHL. The primary objective of these changes were to lower the weight, parts count, and cost of the PS3.

Starting with the PS3 Slim CECH-20xx models, one heatpipe is used, with similar separate heatsinks.

The following is the weight of the heatsink (including fan) in various models of the PS3:
PS3 ModelWeight (including fan)HeatpipesHeatsinkFan Blades
CECH-20xx545g117 (95mm)
CECH-21xx408g117 (95mm)

Thermal Paste

The PS3 uses thermal paste between the heatsink and the CELL/RSX that sometimes is not of high quality. You can substitute it with higher grade thermal paste like Arctic Silver. It is recommended that you change the paste before your PS3 gets the "Yellow Light of Death", especially if your warrantee has already expired. Doing this will extend the life of your PS3.

Fan Blades

Note that the fan used in the PS3 had also evolved through time and space. The early launch models in asia contained 17 fan blades and operated at 1.7A. The US and European units came with either 15 fan blades or 19 fan blades that operated at 2.6A. The 19 fan blades model has better bearings and can move more air at a lower RPM. For the PS3 Slim, 17 fan blades are the standard, and are extremely large at 95mm. It is recommended that you replace your fan blades with those using the best bearings and with the most blades so that your PS3 is quiet.

PS3 Power Supply

Almost all the PS3 models have a built in universal power supply, and supports multivoltage. What this means is that even though a specific voltage is written on the outside of the PS3, the PS3 can actually be plugged into any voltage anywhere in the world and work (as long as you have the correct cable). With only three exceptions (CECHC PS3 models with power supply APS-227, and CECHG PS3 models with LSEB* power supply), if you opened up the PS3, the supported voltages should be stated (on the power supply) as 100V-240V, which is the range for all power outlets in the world.

Here is a sample of some power supply model numbers:
ModelSony Part NumberPower Input (AC)Power Output (DC)PinsWeightFound InCompatibility
ZSSR539IA1-474-036-11100V-240V 6.0A12V 32A5V 3A5815gCECHA, CECHBA B
APS-2261-474-037-11100V-240V 4.8-2.0A12V 32A5V 3A5770gCECHAA B
APS-2271-474-046-11220V-240V 2.2A12V 32A5V 3A5900gCECHCC
APS-2311-474-073-11100V-240V 3.5-1.5A12V 23.5A5V 0.6A5700gCECHGA B E G
LSEB1226B11-474-074-11220V-240V 1.7-1.6A12V 23.5A5V 0.6A5CECHGG
LSEB1254A11-474-081-11220V-240V 1.7-1.6A12V 23.5A5V 0.6A5CECHGG
EADP-300AB1-474-084-11100V-240V 3.6-1.5A12V 23.5A5V 0.6A3CECHHH
APS-2391-474-087-11100V-240V 3.5-1.5A12V 23.5A5V 0.6A3CECHH,CECHK,H K
EADP-260AB1-474-104-11100V-240V 3.3-1.4A12V 21.5A5V 0.6A3CECHKH K (Some L)
APS-2401-474-126-11100V-240V 3.3-1.4A12V 21A5.5V 0.9A4CECHLL P
EADP-260BB1-474-129-11100V-240V 3.3-1.4A12V 21A5.5V 0.9A4L P
EADP-220BB1-474-175-11100V-240V 3.2-1.2A12V 18A5.5V 0.9A4442gCECH-20xx20xx
APS-250? 1-474-177-11
100V-240V 2.7-1.2A12V 18A5.5V 0.9A4CECH-20xx20xx
APS-2701-474-216-11100V-240V 2.5-1.1A12V 16A5.5V 0.9A4384gCECH-25xx25xx, ?
EADP-200DB? 1-474-217-11100V-240V 2.6-1.0A12V 16A5.5V 0.9A4412gCECH-21xx21xx, 25xx, ?
EADP-185AB100V-240V 2.1-0.8A12V 13A5.5V 0.9A?382gCECH-30xx30xx, ?

As seen from the above chart, the PS3 takes 100V-240V AC (Alternating Current) at various amps (A) from your power socket, and converts this to two DC (Direct Current) voltages of 12V, and 5V (or 5.5V for later PS3 models) at various amps. The earliest batch of PS3 had the ZSSR539IA power supply, which as you can see in the above table draws a lot of amps from your power outlet. You can replace it with newer compatible power supply models that draw less power, and also produce less heat. Less heat means less bending of the motherboard, less cracking of the solder, less fan noise, lower electricity bills, and no "Yellow Light of Death." In fact, for most models of the PS3, you can find a better power supply to replace the original. One of the main compatibility criteria is the number of pins on the power supply. It must match the number of pins on your connector cable. The second criteria is to try to find the lowest input amp and lowest output amp that works with your PS3 (for APS, the higher model numbers are better; for EADP, the lower model numbers are better). WARNING: if you decide to replace your power supply, you do it at your own risk! If you don't know what you are doing, you may fry your motherboard. Also, do not trust the outside label if you wish to test your PS3 in different countries. It is the voltage listed on the power supply INSIDE the PS3 that counts. If the power supply is NOT APS-227, nor LSEB1226B1/LSEB1254A1, you can plug your PS3 anywhere in the world. If it IS APS-227 (CECHC PS3 models) or LSEB1226B1 (some CECHG PS3 models), only plug it in countries supporting 220V-240V, or swap them with multivoltage power supplies listed above. Sony sources power supplies from many vendors. EADP* models are made by Delta Electronics and LSEB* models are made by Panasonic.

For those that are not aware: Volts * Amps = Total Watts used.
You are billed for total watts used over time by your local power provider. The PS3 will draw more Amp from lower voltage power outlets compared to higher voltage ones, so total wattage used is similar over the world.

A sample breakdown of the CECHJ and later models finds a 261W Delta EADP-260AB power supply. It is fanless and all capacitors inside are made by Japanese companies: Chemi-Con, Rubycon, and Nichicon.

Note that for PS3 Slim models (CECH-20xx and up), there is no ground wiring support. However, most power supplies have a fuse inside to protect against surges. If in the event of a lightning or similar situation, the fuse should break first, preventing power from reaching your PS3. In that case, you can always first open up your power supply and look for the label T5AH AC250. The fuse (a cylinder shaped rod) is removable near that label. Just replace it with a fuse with similar label (sometimes T4AH or T6AH depending on the power supply).

Average PS3 Power Consumption

The following table shows the average wattage power consumption of various PS3 models tested by people on the internet. Note that for comparison between different models, it may be highly inaccurate because the fan speed affects wattage used. Those that live in warmer climate would have the fan speed on a higher level, thus increasing wattage used. In addition, without knowing which power supplies are used in each model, fair comparisons of power draws of different PS3 models is difficult, if not impossible. However, you can use the below data for comparison of wattage used during differing activity within a specific model.

PS3 ModelStandbyIdleBlu-rayGame Playing
CECHJ92W97W115W (Wipeout HD 1080p)
CECHK12W90W95W114W (Wipeout HD 1080p)

PS3 Peripherals

Many PS3 specific peripherals have a CECHZ prefix. Also listed are peripherals that are compatible with the PS3 (like the PlayStation Eye).

Model NumberNameDescription
DECR-1010: developer model
CBEH-1010: prototype
DC 3.7V, 30mA
The standard gamepad that came with the earlier PlayStation 3. Earlier prototype and the developer versions have the PS button that can light up.
It has a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer (Hokuriku HAAM0325B) to detect XYZ velocity, and a MEMS Piezoelectric vibrating gyroscope (Murata ENC-03R) to detect yaw (z-axis). Pitch (x-axis) and Roll (y-axis) are calculated from gravity detection in the accelerometer.
You can upgrade the firmware by flashing it using a program running on Windows PC.

There is a small hole in the back of the controller that when pressed resets the device (useful for bluetooth connections gone awry). Note that the plastic is transparent (view in front of bright light), similar to the top casing of the PS3 (shine a bright light on it).
CECHZC2DualShock 3SCPH-98050
CBEH-1018: prototype
DC 3.7V, 300mA
Same as the Sixaxis that came with the original PlayStation 3, but has vibration support.
It has a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer (Kionix KXPC4) to detect XYZ velocity, and a MEMS Piezoelectric vibrating gyroscope (Epson-Toyocom XV3500CB) to detect yaw (z-axis). Pitch (x-axis) and Roll (y-axis) are calculated from gravity detection in the accelerometer.

There is a small hole in the back of the controller that when pressed resets the device (useful for bluetooth connections gone awry).
CECHZK1Wireless KeypadSCPH-98048
DC 5V, 500mA
Battery Supply: DC 3.7V
Attaches to the Sixaxis or DualShock 3 controller and allows keyboard input. The touch pad can be recalibrated by pressing the touch button (looks like a hand), then holding both blue and orange shoulder buttons for 3 seconds.

There is a small hole in the back of the keypad that when pressed resets the device (useful for bluetooth connections gone awry).

To pair the Wireless Keypad with other Bluetooth devices, you can set the keypad into discovery mode. To enable Bluetooth discovery mode on the Wireless Keypad, flip the power switch from off to on while holding down the blue pad button (on the left side). Keep holding it down for about 4 seconds, and the red power light and the green CAPS and Touch buttons will flash alternately, indicating that the Wireless Keypad is in discovery mode. You can now enter the passcode on the keypad provided by the connecting device and it should be connected.
CECHZM1PlayStation Card AdapterSCPH-98042
This adaptor allows you to plug in PlayStation and PlayStation 2 memory cards into the PS3. The adapter itself connects to the PS3's USB port.
CECHZR1Blu-ray Disc Remote ControllerSCPH-98046
Allows you to control the Blu-ray playback via a more standard controller, rather than using the Sixaxis or DualShock 3. By default, the controller will use slot 7 of the allowed 7 Bluetooth devices, but it can be configured to use another Bluetooth slot.
CEJH-ZVS1Surround Sound System This is a sound bar made especially for the PS3. It takes analog and optical inputs (no HDMI) so you get surround sound in 5.1 channels. Note that it does not support more than 6 speakers (including the subwoofer), so 7.1 channel audio formats would be remixed to the 5.1 channels.
CEJH-15001PlayStation EyeSCPH-98047, SLEH-00201, SLEH-00203
DC 5V, 500mA
This is a camera for the PS3 that supports capturing images at 120 frames per second at 320x240 resolution and 60 frames per second at 640x480 resolution.
CEJH-15002Wireless HeadsetSCPH-98095, CECHYAS-0075
DC 5V, 100mA
Bluetooth headset.

To put the Wireless Headset into Bluetooth discovery mode, make sure it is off first (no flashing green light). Then press and hold "Power" for 8 seconds. The device should flash alternating green and red light to indicate it is in discovery mode. (if passcode is requested on the PSVita, use 0000).

When the Wireless Headset is on, the green light near the "Power" Button will flash once briefly every 3 seconds.
When the Wireless Headset is connected to another device and is receiving audio, the "Power" button will flash twice briefly every 3 seconds.
When the Wireless Headset is being charged (by Mini-USB cable for instance), the red MIC MUTE button will flash briefly every 3 seconds.
When the Wireless Headset is low on battery, you will hear 3 short beeps constantly, and the red MIC MUTE button will flash briefly every 10 seconds.

Pressing and holding "Power" button for 3 seconds will turn on Wireless Headset (when currently off). Eight musical notes will play in earpiece.
Pressing and holding "Power" button for 6 seconds will turn off Wireless Headset (when currently on). Eight musical notes will play in earpiece.

Pressing the "Mic Mute" button once quickly will turn on or off the mic mute (if mic is supported by the connected device application).
  • One beep means Mic Mute is off (Mic input is on)
  • Two beeps means Mic Mute is on (Mic input is off)

This peripheral also works with the iPhone, and instructions are available at iPhone Bluetooth Headsets.
SCEH-0036PlayTVDVB-T Tuner for PlayTV.
SLEH-00202HDMI Cable (3 meters)For connecting the PS3 with HD capable TV's.

Note that similar to the PS3 model numbers, the peripherals also have a suffix that you add to indicate what region the peripheral was made for. Only peripherals starting with model number prefix CECHZ and DECR follows this numeration. For example, the Japanese Sixaxis has a model number of CECHZC1J, and the United States developer Sixaxis has a model number of DECR-1010U. The following is a chart indicating what each suffix stands for. Most peripherals are normally released in Japan first, and that peripheral (with the J suffix) may be used for the rest of the world, if other suffixes are not produced.

HHong Kong
HKHong Kong
UUnited States

Others Peripherals

USB Peripherals

The PlayStation 3 supports many USB 2.0 peripherals (powered by a GL852 chip), including those originally sold for the PC. For example, you can plug in the wireless dongle from one of Microsoft's wireless Keyboard/Mouse system and end up using only one of the USB ports for two devices (mouse and keyboard). In addition, you can purchase USB PC versions of PS2-like controllers, and they would work on the PS3 (but would be missing the middle PlayStation 3 button).

Bluetooth Peripherals

In addition, you can link up bluetooth devices to the PS3 (bluetooth earpieces from mobile phones for example), or even Bluetooth wireless Keyboard/Mouse systems and save yourself an empty USB port (at the cost of 2 empty Bluetooth slots).

PS3 Security

Additional features that the PS3 advanced from previous generations are the included extra security features. The main ones are listed below. To help with the security, the following hardware are also included inside the Cell: Game data from the Blu-ray disc can have a disc-based encryption on it, but can be optionally disabled (for developers and personal backup). The encryption usage is mandatory in Blu-ray movie discs (part of AACS) though, and is actually named BD-ROM Mark. The BD-ROM Mark on movie discs holds the encryption key/volume ID (128 bits) and requires special Blu-ray licensed technology to create it. This mark is located inside the PIC Zone (Permanent Information and Control data Zone) of the Blu-ray disc. Game discs also store encryption information in the PIC Zone for the game's disc-based encryption layer, but the actual format of the mark and the name of the mark (BD-ROM Mark or otherwise) is unknown.

Here is the associated patent that protects game discs.:

"A method, system, and computer-usable medium are disclosed for controlling unauthorized access to encrypted application program code. Predetermined program code is encrypted with a first key. The hash value of an application verification certificate associated with a second key is calculated by performing a one-way hash function. Binding operations are then performed with the first key and the calculated hash value to generate a third key, which is a binding key. The binding key is encrypted with a fourth key to generate an encrypted binding key, which is then embedded in the application. The application is digitally signed with a fifth key to generate an encrypted and signed program code image. To decrypt the encrypted program code, the application verification key certificate is verified and in turn is used to verify the authenticity of the encrypted and signed program code image. The encrypted binding key is then decrypted with a sixth key to extract the binding key. The hash value of the application verification certificate associated with the second key is then calculated and used with the extracted binding key to extract the first key. The extracted first key is then used to decrypt the encrypted application code."

The disc layered encryption is usually used to encrypt EBOOT.BIN from Blu-ray game discs. After decrypting this disc layer, you are still stuck with an encrypted EBOOT.BIN (which is what is actually stored in the internal harddrive). Removing this encryption, you get a file named *.SELF. These *.SELF files when run from the harddrive are packed NPDRM (retail mode PS3) encrypted data and includes SHA1 hashes. NPDRM is Sony's designation for PlayStation Network Platform Digital Rights Management environment, a requirement for running off of the harddrive. Running off of other media types do not require NPDRM, that is why all PSN downloaded stuff has NPDRM. Other environments do exist like SP-INT and PROD-QA for the debug mode PS3. Sony provides final retail PS3 encryption service, and Debug PS3 units allows unencrypted running of code before that. Note that in addition to encryption, ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) is used extensively to sign important files to prevent tampering. All *.SELF files contain within a ECDSA signature of the file header (this signature requires using a private key). When these layers of encryption is removed, the result is an *.ELF file ready for execution on the PS3 (ELF is the famous Executable and Linkable Format from the unix world). The harddrive is also per PS3 encrypted, so it is not possible to swap drives into another PS3.


There is a security layer called the Hypervisor running on the PS3 (running a very low level: Level 1 or lv1). The Hypervisor (code contained in lvl1.self stored on the encrypted NAND flash chip in early PS3) runs on the PPE and the one reserved SPE with the highest privilege. The Hypervisor utilizes dedicated hardware on the PPE running in privilege mode, allowing only itself, for example, to change the read-only status of code memory. There are 256 Hypervisor related System Calls. The GameOS and OtherOS (like linux) runs on Level 2 or higher on top of the hypervisor. Note that under Linux, the 7th SPU is freely usable and not used by the hypervisor because the Linux harddrive partition is not encrypted and you are not actually using any GameOS decryption routines. There are many hypervisor processes that handle various aspects of the PS3. For example: process 6 is the Update Manager that handles PS3UPDAT.PUP files. Process 9 is the System Manager which deals with booting up the PS3. Other Hypervisor processes include is the System Controller (SYSCON) Manager (can handle verifications of hash values located in the EEPROM) and the Dispatcher Manager (handles VUART communications).

PS3 Loading Process

Encrypted code can be secured by having it run on the one reserved SPE (like the secure loader: lv1ldr which decrypts lvl1.self hypervisor code). lv1ldr itself is decrypted following a chain trust to the initial bootloader decrypted using hardware root key and hardware decryption routine built inside the Cell. Practically all the passed data for decryption happens inside Cell registers. The PPE would take the encrypted code (can be analogous to an application file from the decrypted Blu-ray disc, or something from the flash memory) and setup a SPE to go into secured (isolation) mode. In this mode, the hardware decryption routine takes over, grabs the encrypted code, decrypts it using a hardware root key (for metldr as an example), and puts the decrypted code inside the SPE's local store. Note that an SPE in isolation mode cannot have its whole code and data read or written externally (not even by the PPE that started it up), with the exception of a small area of the local store for communication purposes. The only thing the PPE can do is kill the SPE process (along with the SPE local code and data). The hardware random number generator in the Cell is there so that you can timestamp sessions keyed to a random number to prevent replay attacks.

The master running metldr (metaloader) kickstarts all the major loaders used later down in the chain. These include the already mentioned lv1ldr (loads hypervisor), lv2ldr (loads GameOS), appldr (loads applications), isoldr (loads isolated SPE), and rvkldr (loads revoke). Related are the spp_verifier, rvklist, and spu_pkg_verifier. During firmware upgrades (PUP files), these loaders (with the exception of metldr) can be updated in the flash or the harddrive depending on the model, as they are simply encrypted and signed in their non-running state (lv1ldr, lv2ldr, etc) Practically all decryption of the loader's code happens within the Cell (isolated SPE mainly) CPU, not in XDR main memory. The metldr is probably encrypted with the unique per PS3 key located inside the Cell processor, thus its non-decrypted code inside the flash is always different across different PS3's, and has never been updated during firmware updates. Note that there are other keys involved besides the hardware key inside the Cell. Inside the metldr (once decrypted) contains the keys to decrypt lv1ldr, lv2ldr, appldr, etc.

Almost all of the keys inside the PS3 are public RSA keys for decryption only. With the exception of creating Save Games and general encryption of the harddrive, encryption keys for encrypting games and Blu-ray discs are held in secret by Sony.

Encryption and Signing Process

The most important PS3 security section is the decryption of *.self by the loaders (like lv1ldr decrypting lv1.self). These loaders loads the actual *.self files (decrypting their AES algorithm and then running them). The AES algorithm (uses 128-bit block cipher) can encrypt files using 128, 192, or 256-bit keys. The PS3 uses two particular modes of AES for decryption the *.self file: AES-CTR (CounTeR mode) and AES-CBC (Cipher-Block Chaining), using an initial 256-bit key (called erk: Encryption Round Key) in AES-CBC mode. In addition, an Initialization Vector or Reset Initialization Vector (called iv or riv) of 128-bit is also used as part of this AES process (during encryption and decryption) to make it more secure, allowing different ciphertext when using the same encryption key on the same plaintext multiple times. AES-CTR mode (considered a stream cypher) using 128-bit keys are used for decrypting the *.self file's later sections (this shorter key is obtained from decrypted *.self's header itself with the bigger key).

Signing files using ECDSA (using elliptic curve cryptography) requires a curve type (ctype value can usually be stored in 8 bits), private key (priv or Da of 160-bits plus zeroed out 8-bit prefix), and other 160-bit parameters required for signing (n, K, R). "n" is a constant value related to the curve used. "K" is a random number (which is erroneously implemented as a constant in the PS3). "R" is part of the signature that lets you verify that Sony signed it (also erroneously implemented as a constant because of the side-effect of "K"). Verifying ECDSA signed files requires a public key (pub of 320-bits). SHA1 hashes are all 160 bits. The PUP firmware update files use HMAC-SHA1 (Hash-based Message Authentication Code) of 512 bits (pup_hmac).

Harddrive Layout

The PS3 harddrive (dev_hdd0) layout looks as follows:
  • data
    • bootflag.dat
  • drm
  • game
    • GameFolderName1
      • USRDIR
        • EBOOT.BIN
      • ICON0.PNG
      • PARAM.SFO
      • PIC1.PNG
      • PS3LOGO.DAT
    • GameFolderName2...
  • home
  • mms
  • vsh
  • widget
Installed games would have its own folder under the game folder, and EBOOT.BIN from each game's USRDIR would be run to boot the game. Games downloaded from the PlayStation Store are actually one large packaged .pkg file. When you install the .pkg file, it is expanded and the PARAM.SFO file from inside provides information about the game or program. It also provides other information like the name of the directory that is created inside the /game directory of the harddrive for the rest of the .pkg files to be dumped into. The contents hierarchy of the .pkg file would look like the above (residing in its own /game folder of course). There is a limit of 4GB per file on the harddrive (same as on the Blu-ray disc). Game demos (because they are packaged in a .pkg file) cannot exceed 4GB in size. The /data/bootflag.dat most likely tells the PS3 to boot into XMB or the OtherOS (Linux).

PS3 Jailbreak

The iPhone Jailbreak terminology influenced the name "PS3 Jailbreak". To "jailbreak" means to bypass or disable the security layer of the device and allow you to install any applications or games without any restrictions. A jailbroken device would essentially be like a PC, with no restriction on what programs you can download and install (including homebrew or original retail games) on a external or internal harddrive. In other words, no longer are you restricted to running programs that were encrypted, signed, and distributed on a special format by Sony. Programs can be run that are not encrypted, signed, or put in a special distribution method (blu-ray disc, or special .PKG downloads from PSN). The security layers for checking for these restrictions can be bypassed in jailbroken devices. There are two major ways to jailbreak a PS3, via hardware (like using a USB JIG), or via software.


While the PSP allows for a special mode to write to the flash (via a special battery), the PS3 can use a USB dongle (JIG) that gives lower level access to the PS3 (factory service mode). This special USB Jig is made by Sony. There are a lot of third-party USB dongles that emulates the triggering of factory service mode of the official USB Jig by taking advantage of a stack overflow. Although it is not the intention of this article to go into details of this specific hack, PS3 Jailbreaking requires two things: a device that plugs into the PS3 via the USB port, and software running on the device that can trigger the service mode. Generic programmable USB chip devices can be bought that allow you to load any program you make. Sometimes many mobile devices (like the iPhone, Android) already comes with a USB client (not host mode like on the PSP) chip inside that you can program on. As for the software that can trigger factory service mode, PSGroove runs on the dedicated generic programmable USB chip devices, while PSFreedom runs on mobile devices that happen to have a USB programmable chip. The official one from Sony only runs on their official USB Jig.

Software Jailbreak

Software methods to jailbreak the PS3 is possible by exploiting the running GameOS without using any hardware, except maybe a generic USB harddrive to deliver the code to the PS3. Because knowing the encrypting and signing keys used by Sony could result in creation of PS3 approved homebrew application, many software jailbreak methods can involve simply creating an application or custom firmware (signed or encrypted) that patches out security features, so it is possible to install and run any desired unsigned or signed code from the GameOS itself. Of course, if the GameOs is never touched, then it would not be considered a jailbreak, but every homebrew developer would need to sign and encrypt using Sony's keys, and have a method of delivery via a fake PSN.

PS3 Networking

The PlayStation 3 has a Gigabit Ethernet port (all models except one include Wi-Fi to connect wirelessly via an Access Point), allowing connection to the internet for websurfing and downloading games off of the PlayStation Store. The Fat PS3 Ethernet controller is a Marvell 88E6108 chip, while the Slim PS3 is a Marvell Alaska 88E111R chip. If Wi-Fi is supported in the PS3, then you can also use the PSP to control and view PS3 content and games.

The PS3 has support for network based file systems (HOSTFS), but useful mostly for developers only.

The PS3 only supports HTTP and HTTPS proxy (which means no SOCKS proxy of any version) if you elect to use a proxy address in the network connection settings. Because of this, some PS3 socket communications that do NOT access websites (connections that don't use http port 80 or https port 443 for example) will end up bypassing your proxy settings and directly connect to the internet.

The PS3 allows you to connect to the internet via three NAT (Network Address Translation) modes.

Normally if you are using a connection of NAT Type 3, you may need to manually forward ports to your PS3. The following are ports that are required for the PS3 to operate:

PSN requires these open ports: TCP: 80, 443, 5223. UDP: 3478, 3479, 3658.

PS2 games requires these open ports: UDP: 4658, 4659

PSP Remote Play requires this open port: TCP 9293.

PS3 Browser

The PS3 has a built-in browser called NetFront, made by a company named Access in Japan. DHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS2), and limited JavaScript are supported. Frameset and iframe tags don't operate normally, and sometimes new windows will be opened. It also has trouble supporting pop-up dialogs for sites that use them to verify username and password for access. The browser does not send a HTTP-Accept header.

Flash version supported: 9.0
User-agent string: Mozilla/5.0 (PLAYSTATION 3; 1.00)

The 1.00 in the User-agent string changes as new firmware versions for PS3 are released (probably indicates firmware version). It is at least up to 3.00 with the latest firmware update.

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

Because of the difficulty of memorizing what devices (or game and app) use which ports, and manually opening and forwarding ports on your router, UPnP was created. If your router and device (like PS3) supports UPnP, simply enabling this option will let the device (or app and game) directly tell the router what ports needs to be opened and forwarded to the device for it to work. Turning this option on in the PS3 and router (assuming it supports it), will solve most problems automatically.

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)

The PS3 supports being a recipient of streamed video or audio content. It does this via supporting the DLNA protocol. To enable this feature, simply have a server (a computer running Linux or Windows) running an application (like Windows Media Player) that support DLNA. Make sure your PS3 and this server are both connected to the same router (so NAT Type 1 won't work). Simply make the application serving music or videos share some content, and ask the PS3 to look for DLNA content from the XMB.

PS3 Error Codes

The PS3 gives out error codes for problems encountered during certain operations. The error codes are 8 hexidecimal digits in length. Here is a sample one...
Error CodeDescription
8001050BError playing game off of harddrive.

Linux on PS3

One of the most interesting things about the PS3 is that it allows you to install a separate operating system on the internal harddrive. Note that only Fat PS3 models (CECHA-CECHQ) supports Linux. The PS3 Slim (CECH-20xx) models don't have this feature. However, starting with firmware version 3.21, the linux was disabled for system security. If Linux interests you, visit PS3 Linux Secrets.

Programming on the PS3

Unfortunately, unlike the Sony PlayStation Portable, you are unable to program on the PS3 unless you are an official developer, or you do it under Linux. If you are interested in programming in Linux on the PS3, visit PS3 Linux Secrets.

Official developers can obtain PS3 Tool and PS3 Test machines. The PS3 Tool (like DECR-1000/DECR-1000A) come with the official PS3 SDK, and SN Systems Limited programming tools like the ProDG. The PS3 Test (like DECHA007J/DECHA007A) units are identical to regular consumer PS3 units hardware-wise, but has operating software allowing execution of unencrypted code created from PS3 Tool. This allows quick software testing without burning the software onto a retail Blu-ray disc (which would require code encryption and signing from Sony). Developers are able to compile their code as an ELF, then use a signing tool called "make_fself" (run from any media) or "make_fself_npdrm" (run off of the harddrive) on their development machines. When the game is done, Sony encrypts and compresses the SELF for retail PS3 units (either on disc or for download from PSN). Many middleware libraries are available with the SDK, like Havok and Ageia physics, Collada 3D file format, and optional Unreal Engine 3.

If the PS3 can be hacked to run custom firmware, then the PS3 essentially becomes like a regular PC with a CELL CPU, 256MB of RAM, and a 256 MB graphics card that outputs to HDMI displays. If security hole is software-based, then the PS3 would rival the PSP as the most popular platform for homebrew programs, as the PS3 is the ultimate programming platform for the developer wanting to reach the masses.

The Future

The PS3 is a difficult product to evaluate unless you have digged deep into all of its features. However, there seems to be no end to the feature list as newer firmware versions allow for features to be stored onto the harddrive instead of flash. Initially 256MB was the maximum size of the PS3 operating system (that was the combined size of the two firmware chips). Now that this limitation is removed, it becomes like a modern OS, with only 16MB of bootup code in the firmware, the rest pulled from the harddrive (although at this moment the earlier models still store everything in the bigger flash chips). One of the major growth path of the PS3 is upgrading to HDMI compliant HDTV and AV receivers that can handle next generation audio and video formats. After that, the inclusion of Linux makes the PS3 an exciting question mark in the future because you can create any graphical operating system on top of Linux. Or even better, replace Linux with a better operating system. Linux is currently limited in user-friendliness, and this is why a new generation of 3D operating systems may open up the computing world for the next generation computer enthusiasts. The ultimate goal is to replace Linux with a more user friendly operating system for installation and running of programs. You might say next generation user interfaces and operating systems via this custom operating system doorway may outshine any limitations of the XMB given enough time. Perhaps using the Sixaxis to navigate in 3D "Matrix" space, or hook into 3D avatar based operating environments may be the key to next generation 3D operating systems. It is unfortunate, however, that Sony has removed the hardware accelerated features of the RSX from Linux. This severely limits the usability of the PS3 for custom operating systems. The possibility of having the Linux partition be replaced with a full blown multitasking next generation operating system with high performance 3D user interface at its core requires hardware acceleration. When, and if, Sony later opens up hardware accelerated RSX graphics for Linux, the other missing piece for accomplishing this ultimate goal is a simple install procedure for new applications (if Linux is not replaced). Once this is done, it may open up another market for programmers similar to how the PC did in the past.

Currently, the PS3 fills the void in the home, while the PSP fills the void for mobile computing. The PlayStation 4 (PS4) is not far off, and if the PS4 is a PS3 shrunk into the size of the PSP, then technology will have better caught up with demand. It seems a mobile PS4 or iPhone or iPad that can plug into a big screen via HDMI, and has capabilities of touchscreen, miniature speakers, digital camera, multi-array microphone, mobile phone, FM/AM radio, TV reception, GPS, motion sensing (accelerometer), local connections (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and/or IrDA), and projection glasses output, will bring in the next generation personal technical device. This device would, of course, be able to have it's own static ip to host servers for webpages and other types of next generation internet services, or web protocols.

Information about the PS4 should be easy to predict, however. The PS1 used CD format; the PS2 used DVD format; the PS3 used Blu-ray format; and the PS4 should use holographic disc (HVD or something similar). The PS1 had stereo sound; the PS2 had Dolby Digital 5.1 sound; the PS3 had lossless 7.1 channel sound; and the PS4 should have 9.1 channel (includes speakers on top of your head and below you). The PS1 had low resolution TV display; the PS2 had SDTV display; the PS3 had HDTV display; and the PS4 should have even higher definition or allow wearable projected displays. The PS1 had no harddrive; the PS2 had optional harddrive; the PS3 had mandatory harddrive; and the PS4 should have huge storage capabilities (flash, harddrive, or external). The PS1 had no internet connection; the PS2 had optional wired (10/100Base-T) internet connection; the PS3 had internet connection built-in (wired 1000BASE-T and wireless 802.11b/g); and the PS4 should have built-in 100 Gigabit Ethernet wired (or even faster optical) and 802.11n or faster wireless internet connection. The PS1 and PS2 had vibrating wired controllers; the PS3 had wireless, vibrating, motion-sensing controllers; and the PS4 should have wireless, motion-sensing, wearable controllers that detect not just hand movements, but your feet, head, or other appendages in 3D, and can not just vibrate your various appendages, but blow air in your face, flash different lights in your eyes, and even shock you in different places too.

If the PlayStation 4 interests you, visit PS4 Secrets.

Super Secrets

With the PS3 power switch in the off position, turn power switch back on while holding down Eject button. This "fan test" mode allows you to clean out the dust inside the PS3. It works for Models CECHG and higher. (Note that a plugged in PS3 Slim does not have a power switch at all and is always in standby).

The following requires the power switch in the back to be on...

Hold Power button down for 6 seconds (while PS3 is on): turns off PS3.

Hold Eject button down for 6 seconds (while PS3 is on): force disc to eject.

Hold Eject button down for 12 seconds (while PS3 is on): reset Blu-ray.

Hold Power button down for two beeps (while PS3 is off): Reset video to lowest settings.

Hold Power button down for three beeps (while PS3 is off): Enter PS3 diagnostic mode (repeat procedure twice)

Hold PS button down on controller for 10 seconds: Turns off Sixaxis or Dualshock 3.

The PS3 can enter a special "Service Mode". When it does the bottom right hand corner of the screen has a red translucent rectangle with the words "Playstation 3. Factory/Service Mode" inside of the rectangle. When the PS3 is off, plugging a special "JIG" in the USB port (and then pressing Eject immediately after pressing the Power button), the PS3 is triggered into Service Mode when it boots up. This special mode then accepts firmware code loaded in from the USB port (PS3UPDAT.PUP), and allows reflashing the firmware chip, or running programs from a USB drive.

Each PS3 has a special 512KB EEPROM chip on the motherboard using a SPI Serial Interface Renasas chip.

TypeSizeSpeedVoltagePackagingManufacturerSerial NumberDescription
EEPROM512KB3MHz8-pinRenesasHN58X2504TIEPS3 EEPROM chip

Now that you have gotten here, you should have enough knowledge about the PS3 hardware to move on to the next level. Here are the list of things you can do depending on how interested and motivated you are:

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