147w ago - Along with the PS3 Firmware 3.41 update, today Sony implemented Incremental Update Version PS3 patch PUP updates, with the less bulky PlayStation 3 update files named appropriately as "PS3PATCH.PUP."
As detailed by randalfHERE, CJPCHERE, and Examiner.com (linked below), the new Incremental Update Version files are approximately 40MB in size in comparison to standard 160MB+ PS3 Firmware update files and only update required dev_flash files, along with the core OS, revoke lists and syscon updates.
The benefit is simple: Both Sony's servers and customers save bandwidth and time downloading required PS3 update files along with aiding PSN Plus subscribers who utilize auto-updating.
To quote from Examiner.com: "Previously, all firmware updates were incremental and they built off each other since the original firmware, but Sony has revised that concept and firmware updates will now only download what is needed from the latest firmware opposed to downloading the entire firmware.
Firmware 3.41 only needed around 40MB of information, so the system only downloaded that much, opposed to 200MB of additional information from previous firmwares.
This will allow for smaller updates, faster downloads, and PlayStation Plus subscribers an easier time with auto-downloads."
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Yes, it was the first incremental update. In theory- no, the incremental update should not have messed up the HDD in any way, just a partial vs full replace of identical (between 3.41 full and incremental) files.