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October 5, 2008 // 8:01 pm - We recently purchased a new 80GB PlayStation 3 console, and our very own PS3 Dev Courier dissected his new system.

The item that peaked his interest the most was that it had one single 56-pin Flash chip, the S29GL128N90TFIR2, and was 128MB in size in contrast to older PS3 consoles utilizing dual (2x256MB) 48-pin chips totaling 512MB. So, he bought a new adapter, and some blank chips and proceeded to pull the 56-pin flash, and dumped it.

To our surprise, he was unable to dump more than 16MB of it! At first, we believed that the other blocks in the flash were protected via password, however there was something else brewing.

He took the 16MB dump that was made and flashed it onto a completly blank chip, and reinstalled it in the PS3.

To our surprise, it worked!

Now, if you recall, newer version PS3 Firmwares have asked for a PUP file after formatting/inserting a larger HDD - This may be why! After flashing back just the 16MB of data, it also asked for a PUP file. So, the PUP was given, it installed the missing files fine, and then booted.

Basically, the system is now storing the majority of the flash contents on the hard disk drive, away from prying eyes. Even on a PS3 TEST console, the areas where the files would be are protected, so they can not be accessed.

This was also true when we wiped the 80GB's HDD, it again asked for the PUP. So, it would seem that the base system is now stored on the flash, and all of the SPRX's, XMB files, and other data is now fully stored on the HDD.

So the question is, why?

Was it just cheaper to replace the flash with a smaller one, or was it a security decision? Were we getting too close to uncovering something on the flash that could lead to a hack in the system?

We don't know yet, but we are still working at it - more to come, including details on the PS3's Service Mode!

Newer PS3's go to 128MB Flash from 512MB, HDD Storage Used!

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#25 - ionbladez - July 25, 2009 // 8:28 am
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My two cents -

I'm guessing this would be a security reason.

I mean, think of it this way.

The only way we could *mod* data on the flash is by writing to it, changing the flash's containment size.

Sony probably thought ahead of this, and created a background service to watch changes in the flash, verify, and confirm any data modifications.

It also is read-only so if this daemon is bypassed somehow, we still couldn't write to it since it's on a ''fixed'' size.

And what I mean by fixed is that they have it set for each firmware that only allows a certain size allocation of the flash.
Limiting how much they/we can use to store onto it.

It could also definitely be a reason of cost-effectiveness as well.

#24 - Preceptor - July 16, 2009 // 11:25 pm
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Quote Originally Posted by CJPC View Post
The general rule of thumb, if its brand new (within the past year), its most likely the smaller flash, more generally, if the PS3 has backwards compatibility, it is usually the larger flashes, otherwise, the smaller.

hmmm It's from July 08. And it doesn't have backwards compatibility... So it probably has a small flash... Thanks for the info CJPC.

#23 - CJPC - July 16, 2009 // 11:24 pm
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Quote Originally Posted by shummyr View Post
Thanks for the Info CJPC.

No worries, that's what I'm here to do. Just of note, (I mentioned this in another dev post)

The old PS3 flashes were 2x128MB, while the new one is 1x16MB. There was some initial confusion, the info came to us from our Italian DEVS, hense the title. It is correct, just the wrong MB mb Mb happening (if that makes sense)

#22 - shummyr - July 16, 2009 // 11:16 pm
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Thanks for the Info CJPC.

#21 - CJPC - July 16, 2009 // 5:36 pm
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The general rule of thumb, if its brand new (within the past year), its most likely the smaller flash, more generally, if the PS3 has backwards compatibility, it is usually the larger flashes, otherwise, the smaller.

#20 - Preceptor - July 16, 2009 // 8:49 am
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Peeps, sorry if this has been answered in some other post, and sorry for resurrecting a very old post, but I didn't find anything about it elsewhere. Recently I got a hold of an older ps3 and I was wondering what kind of flash it has, the 512MB one or the 128MB...

Do you guys know from which model number did it start having a smaller flash memory? Is there an easy way of knowing which kind of flash does it have?


#19 - Zeborg - October 7, 2008 // 12:55 am
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is not important if these chip is cheaper, is not important if the chip is not full with data. sony is not able to modify the actual form of work of PS3, (if they change that, literaly screw up all the software actualy made) but they try to secure the exploits of actual system in hardware form not "software speaking". if Sony change that (the memory chip or any else), in that components "live" the posible exploit, is a fact.

#18 - amirel - October 7, 2008 // 12:21 am
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Quote Originally Posted by psychospacefish View Post
It can't have been done for security reasons because the HDD is less secure than the flash. It's all encrypted, sure, but if it does become decrypted than it's simply a matter of anybody throwing their PS3 HDD in their PC's and putting CFW files on it... unless (and this is what I suspect) there are checksums of the firmware files stored in the NAND.

hashing files is very inconvenient. if any exploit is found in hashed file, then it is the end of security. most probably, files are signed by RSA or other asymmetric cipher.

the question to the developers is whether files stored on flash are just bootloaders (like PC BIOS) or hypervisor+OS is stored in flash, while user-level software is on harddrive.

#17 - NDT - October 6, 2008 // 10:36 pm
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flow Rebuilder 3.50 supports this kind of dumps for extraction purpose

#16 - sekemc - October 6, 2008 // 9:35 pm
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It's a pretty interesting move no doubt about, but no doubt I think the devs are getting close to uncovering something in the flash. For now Sony's move is unclear but maybe we will find out what the true motive is later down the road.