Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Nvidia responsible for the no Additional OS on Slim PS3?

Sony has finally announced it's second worst kept secret. The PS3 Slim Edition, and the much lower price-tag. Compared to previous Playstation 3 units the new PS3 Slim shares many of the same features as the previous low-end models. Among the features missing from previous models include no backwards compatibility with Playstation 2 games. The PS3 Slim only features 2 USB ports compared to it's older cousins 4. While previous PS3 units had card readers for Compact Flash, SD, and Sony's Memory Stick Pro, the PS3 Slim lacks these ports.

In all fairness though, such isn't that big a deal. One of the advantages to USB is that you can buy a hub which allows you to attach more devices, and I know from personal experience that the PS3 does quite well at recognizing USB card readers. So the consumer really doesn't lose as much functionality as would be first appearent.

In fact, the only significant loss on the spec sheet is the loss of a firmware loader to allow additional operating systems to be installed. One of the high points at the Playstation 3's launch was it's ability for end users to install a PowerPC Linux. However, as users, such as myself found out, the only graphics support available for the Playstation 3's hardware was a base VESA mode. While you could get a display, you pretty much could forget about actually doing anything with the system beyond simple number crunching or base database work... and if that's what you were interested in doing with Cell, you were better off buying from IBM directly.

One of my questions surrounding the PS3 Slim is if Nvidia was responsible for the loss of a method to install an additional operating system. Nvidia doesn't have an open-source strategy. There is no intention on Nvidia's part to provide software developers with documentation or specification to write a driver for any of their graphics cards. Nvidia publically refused to add in the PS3's RSX support to Nvidia-Glx. The resulting lack of any accelerated video made the PS3 pointless as a desktop computer for all but the most basic of tasks.

Thus I wonder if Sony's decision to no longer support such functionality was based on Nvidia's choice to keep from supporting other uses of the PS3 system.

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