PlayStation 3 Retail, Demo, and Debug Consoles - Oh My!
Many people have been wondering exactly what the differences are between Development and Retail PlayStation 3 Systems, and we figured now would be a great time to clarify these along with reporting some new findings.
Aside from the different hardware revisions of the PS3's motherboard, the systems are virtually the same as mentioned in previous posts. We have examined multiple PS3 TEST's, Retail PS3's, Demo Unit PS3's, and even Factory Mode PS3's, and found that there are no hardware differences between them at all.
Mind you, there are differences, but they are due to the hardware revision, not due to the systems themselves. To make that more clear, the units are identical to their counterparts of the same hardware revision.
So, the question is- what's the difference? Software!
We all know the difference is in the software, and after examining countless dumps from these systems, on top of flash dumps given to us by you, our loyal readers awhile back, here is some feedback.
We have found that on each system which carries the same PS3 Firmware, that the majority of the software is actually identical. That's right, the same hypervisor, and the same kernel too!
To be honest, at first we thought we were wrong, but it turned out- that wasn't the case! Most of the differences in configuration are done essentially via flags.
Now, we can't change these flags yet for two reasons. First off, the few we know about are encrypted and can't be changed without resigning the EID... which is a ways off. Secondly, we have yet to find them all to date, but it's being worked on!
For example: A PS3 TEST, before 1.60 could install retail packages, but after 1.60 could not anymore. We initially believed that it was due to the removal of the retail package decryption keys, however, that was not the case.
Upon examination, the retail keys were still present well after 1.60! So, this could very well mean that the system detects exactly what type of system it is, and then performs the appropriate requested task.
This is also supported by the "hybrid" PS3 Retail/Test Firmwares, and explains why they work, but don't function properly. The XMB menus are "commonly updated" across the board, so that's no big surprise, however its the backend code we are interested in.
Recently ggparallel managed to install a PS3 TOOL Firmware update on a PS3 TEST with no ill effects, and it did not enable any extra "TOOL" related functionality, however, it did not disable any TEST functionality- it still worked just like a TEST.
With what being said, since we know that the "upper level" code is the same on every PS3, it's quite possible that all of the code enabling Debug functions is indeed present on a Retail System, and just needs said detection bit flags thrown to enable them... more to come! More PlayStation 3 News...