The Internet is buzzing with news that Sony has filed a patent regarding the method used to make the PlayStation 3's mighty cell processor interpret directives originally designed for the PlayStation 3's Emotion Engine. The upshot on this is that the PS3 could soon be able to play PS2 discs without the need for the extra PS2-related hardware that Sony removed from later models of PS3 consoles. Backward compatibility could be within sight once again. Siliconera has the news.
PlayStation 3s without PS2 backwards compatibility are missing the Emotion Engine, a chip Sony designed as the PS2’s CPU. What if the PS3’s cell processor could emulate the Emotion Engine? Theoretically, all PlayStation 3s would be able to play PS2 games even if a console didn’t have the proper hardware. According to a recent patent filed by Sony Computer Entertainment in the US, Sony has the code and technology ready to do this.
There are two main ways to emulate hardware. Interpretation is when target code is decoded and converted into a language the host can understand. The other strategy is to decode and recompile programs in the host’s language. Maybe the concept is better explained another way. Interpretation is like having someone constantly translating English to Japanese for you, non stop, twenty four hours a day wherever you go. Decoding and recompiling is like someone translating a sets of words and putting them in a dictionary you can reference.
Sony developed a way to translate instructions from an Emotion Engine chip into chunks that can be referenced.
I'd love to have PS2 abilities in my PS3 even though I barely have the time as it is to play all of the PS3 games in which I have an interest or a review assignment. I still have a small stack of PS2 games that I want to explore at some point (and the PS2 to play them on, but that's beside the point). However, that Sony would add PS2 backward compatibility into the PS3 with something as simple as a firmware update has not been confirmed. I sincerely hope that is how the company plans to unleash this new feature, as it would benefit all of us out there with newer PS3s, but there's also a rumor going around that the upcoming "slim" model of PS3 would support this new technology exclusively while the rest of us are left out in the metaphorical rain. By the way, I'm assuming that this feature is meant to read data from actual discs and not just some sort of paid PS2-on-demand service via the PlayStation Network. So, even though I don't have any immediate plans to play PS2 games on my PS3, I still would like the option. How's that for mixed-up priorities?