Anatomy of the Playstation 3
By Gabriel Torres on October 9, 2008
Playstation 3 is the latest video game console from Sony. Today we completely disassembled a Playstation 3 (80 GB version) to show you how it looks like inside and the components used.
But let’s first take an overall look of the Playstation 3 from outside. In case you’ve never seen one, the new Playstation 3 is more like a Home Theater PC (HTPC) that happens to also play games. Or a high-end video game console that also happens to be a media center PC. You decide. It comes with a Blu-Ray player, HDMI output (digital video) supporting full HD resolution (1080p), optical SPDIF (digital audio) output, two USB 2.0 ports, BlueTooth 2.0, Wi-Fi (11 Mbps and 54 Mbps supported), one Gigabit Ethernet port and a SATA 2.5” hard disk drive (80 GB on the model we disassembled). Besides playing games, you can use it to play DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, videos and MP3 and watch photos and since it has built-in networking capability, data can be stored on another device. Complete technical specifications can be found on Playstation’s website. What is really sweet about Playstation 3 is that it costs the same thing that a Blu-Ray player (USD 400), so you can buy it to use as a Blu-Ray player and get a free high-end video game console!
The hard disk drive is found on an external removable bay on the left panel of the console (or bottom panel, if you use the Playstation 3 like shown in Figure 2).
Playstation 3 uses a 2.5” SATA-300 hard disk drive and the unit we disassembled came with an 80 GB unit from Fujitsu, model MHZ2080BH, which rotates at 5,400 rpm (2.5” units are targeted to laptop computers and usually run at 5,400 rpm instead of 7,200 rpm like desktop hard disk drives) and has an 8 MB buffer. Full specifications can be found here.
In Figure 8, you can see Playstation 3 with its top cover removed. That is the first image you have when opening the Playstation 3. The black unit on the left is the power supply, the gray unit on the right is the Blu-Ray drive, the small printed circuit board on the lower left corner provides the radio capability (BlueTooth and Wi-Fi) and USB ports and below the Blu-Ray drive you have the motherboard. Below everything is the unit’s cooling system, which you can’t see on this picture.
On the pictures below you can see the Playstation 3 completely disassembled. We will talk about each individual part on the following pages.
It is important to note that other versions of Playstation 3 use different components inside. As mentioned, we disassembled the 80 GB model as sold in the USA market on October 2008.
Playstation 3’s power supply can be seen in Figure 12. It is manufactured by Delta (model EADP-260AP).
This power supply provides two outputs, +12 V (up to 21.5 A) and +5 V (up to 0.6 A). This translates in a maximum power of 261 W (and hence the “260” on the model number). The +12 V output is available on the bottom of the unit through a two-pin female plug, while the +5 V output is available on a side connector that also has a pin for the on/off (actually a standby) switch available on the front panel of the console. You can see this connector in Figure 12, where a cable with three white wires is connected.
On Figures 15 and 16 you have an overall look inside the power supply from Playstation 3. As you can see, the power supply does not have a fan. All capacitors present on the power supply are Japanese, from Chemi-Con, Rubycon and Nichicon.
The Blu-Ray drive that comes with Playstation 3 can read BD (Blu-Ray) discs at 2x (72 Mbps, i.e., 9 MB/s), DVDs at 8x (8.1 MB/s) and CDs at 24x (3,600 KB/s). As you can see this is a very simple unit (all Blu-Ray players have a minimum speed of 2x, so 2x here isn’t really an advantage).
The chips used on the Blu-Ray drive that comes with the Playstation 3 are the following:
This small printed circuit board hosts Playstation 3’s radio circuits on one side and the USB ports on the other side. It features three antennas, two for Wi-Fi connection and one for BlueTooth connection.
The radio circuitry uses the following integrated circuits:
The USB ports are controlled by a GL852 chip.
You can have an overall look of the Playstation 3 motherboard on the pictures below. It is important to note that other versions of Playstation 3 use different components inside. As mentioned, we disassembled the 80 GB model as sold in the USA market on October 2008.
The heart of the Playstation 3 are the two processors it uses: Cell Broadband Engine (CXD2989), which is the CPU (generic processor), and RSX Reality Synthesizer (CXD2982), which is the GPU (graphics processor).
Playstation 3 uses two kinds of memory. It has 256 MB XDR for the main RAM and 256 MB GDDR3 for the video memory, which is embedded inside the GPU.
XDR is a memory architecture developed by Rambus, which transmits a smaller number of bits per clock cycle but at a high clock rate, enabling a high transfer rate (click here to learn more about this technology). Playstation 3 uses four Samsung K4Y50164UE-JCB3 chips running at 3.2 GHz. Each chip transfers 16 bits per clock cycle, so the communication between the CPU and memory is of 64 bits per clock cycle (16 bits x 4 chips). This yelds a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 25.6 GB/s (3.2 GHz x 64 bits / 8). Each chip holds 512 Mbits of information, which equals to 64 MB and thus four chips makes 256 MB RAM.
Other chips used on Playstation 3 motherboard are the following:
The cooling system is located below the motherboard. It uses a radial fan and two passive aluminum heatsinks for the CPU and the GPU.