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PlayStation 3 Retail, Demo, and Debug Consoles - Oh My!


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306w ago - 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!



Stay tuned for more PS3 Hacks and PS3 CFW news, follow us on Twitter and be sure to drop by the PS3 Hacks and PS3 Custom Firmware Forums for the latest PlayStation 3 scene updates and homebrew releases!

Comments 37 Comments - Go to Forum Thread »

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pockets69's Avatar
#27 - pockets69 - 303w ago
So guys... No thanks giving updates this year??? i want to be surprised...

keep up the good work...

plains203's Avatar
#26 - plains203 - 304w ago
This is all very interesting to read about. I am very impressed with the effort that is going into opening up the PS3. Kudos to Sony for engineering such a strong system and providing such a good challange. I would have been happier if they had made the PS3 Region free for Blu-Ray's and DVD's though. Anyhow keep up the great work guys and let's hope all us plebs get a great christmas present in the form of custom firmware

amirel's Avatar
#25 - amirel - 305w ago
Quote Originally Posted by CJPC View Post
It's the chain of trust, each level verifies the next. It contains HW specific information like Region Assignment, crypto keys, etc.

Yes, if we could change it, we are set. But for the moment it seems that the only way to change it would be to use the PS3 itself (due to per box issues), which we can't do yet since we can not run unsigned code on a retail system- yet!


The question was not about circumventing the crypto basis of the chain of trust --- this is next to impossible. I just asked if we can force the hardware to report fake info to be involved in the chain of trust.

Sorry for my bad English --- maybe I really said something strange in the previous post.

libralion's Avatar
#24 - libralion - 305w ago
Thanks for the update, CJPC. Great work!

My PS3 is still sitting there collecting dust with a FW 1.5. I am a total newbie, I'd love to get involved, but there is probably nothing I can do with my zero knowledge of all this. So, keep up the good work, guys!

CJPC's Avatar
#23 - CJPC - 305w ago
Quote Originally Posted by digihoe View Post
Do the debug PS3 have kernel access? Can the flags be changed by the PS3 itself? Does it has crypto processor like the PSP? If so is it just trying to figure out the correct command?


Not direct access to it, at least not yet

The flags can be changed by the PS3, and it does have crypto logic. The issue is gaining the proper permissions, then getting the correct command(s).

Quote Originally Posted by amirel View Post
If I understood correctly, these flags are stored inside the nand. So, the question is what program (or chip) verifies the signature of EID ? By the way, what is EID exactly? I mean, what hardware-specific information it contains? Since if we can change this hardware-specific information of retail ps3 to that of debug ps3 and correct EID accordingly, then we are done.


It's the chain of trust, each level verifies the next. It contains HW specific information like Region Assignment, crypto keys, etc.

Yes, if we could change it, we are set. But for the moment it seems that the only way to change it would be to use the PS3 itself (due to per box issues), which we can't do yet since we can not run unsigned code on a retail system- yet!

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