Patent filing for new cell-based emulation engine suggests that all PS3s could become backwards compatible via firmware update.
June 30, 2009 - In an effort to reduce PlayStation 3 production costs, Sony removed the console's Emotion Engine; the chipset which enables the system to play PlayStation 2 software. At first the company left the chipset in a few of its console SKUs, but has since discontinued all hardware variations with the capacity for backward compatibility. While certainly a smart business decision from a logistical standpoint, the move to remove the console's ability to play last generation titles left gamers with substantial PS2 game libraries out in the cold, but a recent patent filing by the company suggests that the feature could be making a comeback.
According to a report by Siliconera, Sony recently filed a patent for a new cell-based emotion engine emulator, which could be capable of processing PS2 code through the PS3's existing processors. The processes were loosely outlined in the patent filing, but in essence, Sony is developing a way to translate and store Emotion Engine processing data within the PS3. In other words, this means that Sony could theoretically bring backwards compatibility to all current and previous PS3 units with a simple firmware update, regardless of hardware configuration. The filing makes no specific mention of the technology's intended purpose or when or if it will be implemented in a PS3 update, however, it seems pretty safe to assume that Sony will eventually bring it to console. After all, a firmware-enabled emulator is an extremely cost effective way to add an invaluable feature to the device without major hardware revisions.
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