Recently the PS3 Dev Team received a PS3 Reference TOOL Kit and detailed the Frontside and Backside of the hardware.
Today we popped off the top of our PS3 TOOL to share how this monstrous machine works!
For starters, the cover is large but thin, and quite sharp (it drew blood!). Underneath the top cover are multiple steel covers, nearly 1/8th of an inch thick. This keeps the PS3 TOOL shielded, and also helps with ventilation.
Of an interesting note, the covers are so thick they block the WiFi and Bluetooth signals - this is why a PS3 TOOL needs an external antenna. Once the shielding covers are removed (along with about 15 screws) the signal can escape the system without issue... and we can start to see the internals of the PS3 TOOL.
Looking at the overview, on the far left features, from top to bottom, the System HDD at 400GB, the BDEMU HDD at 400GB, as well as the BD-ROM drive at the bottom.
To the right of that, there are air channels that are used as an intake, sucking air in from the front, passing it through the BE/RSX heat syncs, and out the back.
Prominently featured at the top is the Power Supply, the large heat sink directly below that is the RSX, and right below that is the Cell. To the middle-right of the Cell/BE, is the WiFi/Bluetooth hardware - which as noted, needs the external antenna to work.
Below the IDE cables labelled "ATA0 SYSTEM" and "ATA1 SYSTEM" are the video components - which are all doubled, two video chips, even dual HDMI transceivers. These HDMI transceivers are under the AV sub board, which provides Multi AV and VGA output - one of the features a PS3 TOOL has over normal hardware.
Back right are exhaust vents, which suck air out of the system. Featured in the second picture (below) are two air vent channels, which are embedded in the thick steel covering that help route air away from the CELL/RSX, and towards said exhaust fans.
Below these fans, there is a large heat sink - underneath it is the Southbridge. The Southbridge controls just about everything in the system - which is why it is so very, very interesting!
Finally, onto the thing that really makes the PS3 TOOL stand out- the Communication Processor at the bottom. It is essentially its own embeded system - think of it like a tiny PC, inside the TOOL.
On powerup, it is turned on first, talks with the Southbridge, and via its own Debug link, is able to essentially control the entire system.
Of course, depending on the Southbridge Firmware, the CP can either just Debug games, or Debug (and dump!) the Kernel and Hypervisor memory areas. However, to do this, a special internal Sony update is required.
More next time, when we will get into details about each specific chip - there are quite a few different chips in here compared to a Retail or even Dev PS3 units - and the BD drive is quite interesting too!
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