Friday, January 29, 2010

How The PS3 Hypervisor Was Hacked, Now Fully Explained

'Root Labs' has put up a fairly technical coverage on just how GeoHot managed to hack the PS3's Hypervisor. So if you're a bit of a tech-head or just curious, then the article is definitely worth a read.

So here's their explanation of it, FULL CREDIT must be given to for the feature article:

How the PS3 hypervisor was hacked - Root Labs Explanation

George Hotz, previously known as an iPhone hacker, announced that he hacked the Playstation 3 and then provided exploit details. Various articles have been written about this but none of them appear to have analyzed the actual code. Because of the various conflicting reports, here is some more analysis to help understand the exploit.

The PS3, like the Xbox360, depends on a hypervisor for security enforcement. Unlike the 360, the PS3 allows users to run ordinary Linux if they wish, but it still runs under management by the hypervisor. The hypervisor does not allow the Linux kernel to access various devices, such as the GPU. If a way was found to compromise the hypervisor, direct access to the hardware is possible, and other less privileged code could be monitored and controlled by the attacker.

Hacking the hypervisor is not the only step required to run pirated games. Each game has an encryption key stored in an area of the disc called ROM Mark. The drive firmware reads this key and supplies it to the hypervisor to use to decrypt the game during loading. The hypervisor would need to be subverted to reveal this key for each game. Another approach would be to compromise the Blu-ray drive firmware or skip extracting the keys and just slave the decryption code in order to decrypt each game. After this, any software protection measures in the game would need to be disabled. It is unknown what self-protection measures might be lurking beneath the encryption of a given game. Some authors might trust in the encryption alone, others might implement something like SecuROM.

The hypervisor code runs on both the main CPU (PPE) and one of its seven Cell coprocessors (SPE). The SPE thread seems to be launched in isolation mode, where access to its private code and data memory is blocked, even from the hypervisor. The root hardware keys used to decrypt the bootloader and then hypervisor are present only in the hardware, possibly through the use of eFUSEs. This could also mean that each Cell processor has some unique keys, and decryption does not depend on a single global root key (unlike some articles that claim there is a single, global root key).

George’s hack compromises the hypervisor after booting Linux via the “OtherOS” feature. He has used the exploit to add arbitrary read/write RAM access functions and dump the hypervisor. Access to lv1 is a necessary first step in order to mount other attacks against the drive firmware or games.

His approach is clever and is known as a “glitching attack“. This kind of hardware attack involves sending a carefully-timed voltage pulse in order to cause the hardware to misbehave in some useful way. It has long been used by smart card hackers to unlock cards. Typically, hackers would time the pulse to target a loop termination condition, causing a loop to continue forever and dump contents of the secret ROM to an accessible bus. The clock line is often glitched but some data lines are also a useful target. The pulse timing does not always have to be precise since hardware is designed to tolerate some out-of-spec conditions and the attack can usually be repeated many times until it succeeds.

George connected an FPGA to a single line on his PS3’s memory bus. He programmed the chip with very simple logic: send a 40 ns pulse via the output pin when triggered by a pushbutton. This can be done with a few lines of Verilog. While the length of the pulse is relatively short (but still about 100 memory clock cycles of the PS3), the triggering is extremely imprecise. However, he used software to setup the RAM to give a higher likelihood of success than it would first appear.

His goal was to compromise the hashed page table (HTAB) in order to get read/write access to the main segment, which maps all memory including the hypervisor. The exploit is a Linux kernel module that calls various system calls in the hypervisor dealing with memory management. It allocates, deallocates, and then tries to use the deallocated memory as the HTAB for a virtual segment. If the glitch successfully desynchronizes the hypervisor from the actual state of the RAM, it will allow the attacker to overwrite the active HTAB and thus control access to any memory region. Let’s break this down some more.

The first step is to allocate a buffer. The exploit then requests that the hypervisor create lots of duplicate HTAB mappings pointing to this buffer. Any one of these mappings can be used to read or write to the buffer, which is fine since the kernel owns it. In Unix terms, think of these as multiple file handles to a single temporary file. Any file handle can be closed, but as long as one open file handle remains, the file’s data can still be accessed.

The next step is to deallocate the buffer without first releasing all the mappings to it. This is ok since the hypervisor will go through and destroy each mapping before it returns. Immediately after calling lv1_release_memory(), the exploit prints a message for the user to press the glitching trigger button. Because there are so many HTAB mappings to this buffer, the user has a decent chance of triggering the glitch while the hypervisor is deallocating a mapping. The glitch probably prevents one or more of the hypervisor’s write cycles from hitting memory. These writes were intended to deallocate each mapping, but if they fail, the mapping remains intact.

At this point, the hypervisor has an HTAB with one or more read/write mappings pointing to a buffer it has deallocated. Thus, the kernel no longer owns that buffer and supposedly cannot write to it. However, the kernel still has one or more valid mappings pointing to the buffer and can actually modify its contents. But this is not yet useful since it’s just empty memory.

The exploit then creates a virtual segment and checks to see if the associated HTAB is located in a region spanning the freed buffer’s address. If not, it keeps creating virtual segments until one does. Now, the user has the ability to write directly to this HTAB instead of the hypervisor having exclusive control of it. The exploit writes some HTAB entries that will give it full access to the main segment, which maps all of memory. Once the hypervisor switches to this virtual segment, the attacker now controls all of memory and thus the hypervisor itself. The exploit installs two syscalls that give direct read/write access to any memory address, then returns back to the kernel.

It is quite possible someone will package this attack into a modchip since the glitch, while somewhat narrow, does not need to be very precisely timed. With a microcontroller and a little analog circuitry for the pulse, this could be quite reliable. However, it is more likely that a software bug will be found after reverse-engineering the dumped hypervisor and that is what will be deployed for use by the masses.

Sony appears to have done a great job with the security of the PS3. It all hangs together well, with no obvious weak points. However, the low level access given to guest OS kernels means that any bug in the hypervisor is likely to be accessible to attacker code due to the broad API it offers. One simple fix would be to read back the state of each mapping after changing it. If the write failed for some reason, the hypervisor would see this and halt.

It will be interesting to see how Sony responds with future updates to prevent this kind of attack.

As reported on other sites, Sony is already looking into this Hack.

We will report any findings as Sony release them.

Sony Shares Spike On Profit Expectations

Shares in Sony Corp (6758.T) rose more than 4 percent on Thursday after a report by the Nikkei business daily that the company would likely post an operating profit of about 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the latest quarter, helped by a recovery in its game and TV operations.

While Sony has been widely expected to post its first profit in five quarters, the Nikkei's estimate is higher than the market consensus for an operating profit of 74.2 billion yen in a poll of 7 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. [ID:nTOE60O04R]

Although the Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate enjoys strong sales and healthy profit from its digital camera operations, its loss-making TV and video game businesses had until recently been major drags on its earnings.

But it has seen sales of its PlayStation 3 game console grow sharply after a price cut earlier last year. The video game business will post its first operating profit in four quarters in the October-December period, the Nikkei said.

The maker of Bravia brand flat TVs has also benefited from strong sales of LCD TVs, and payroll cuts and the consolidation of facilities have helped that business return to the break-even level on an operating basis, the Nikkei said.

Sony shares were up 4.4 percent at 3,070 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which gained 2.5 percent.

A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. The company is set to announce its third quarter results on Feb. 4.


Zipper: 'We'll Be Adding Additional Servers To Accomodate The European Launch'

Zipper writes:

" Hey guys,
In anticipation of the throng of new gamers coming in tomorrow morning we'll be adding additional servers to accomodate the European launch.

What this means is that there will be a short downtime sometime during our scheduled maintainence window of 2am - 4am Pacific on Friday morning.

We will message you in-game when this is about happen. Just a head's up".


Sony Officially Announces PS3 GTA: Episodes From Liberty City

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City is now coming to the PC and PS3.

The compilation includes the two downloadable episodes from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both of which were previously thought to be exclusive to the Xbox 360.

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City can be downloaded on Windows Live(PC) and Playstation Network(PS3) on March 30th.

BioWare Working On New PS3 Projects

BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka has told NowGamer that the developer is working on unannounced titles for the PlayStation 3

Asked whether the studios experience with the PS3 on Dragon Age could accelerate the chances of Mass Effect appearing on the console Muzyka told us: "All we’ve ever said when we’ve been asked about Mass Effect, is that we’ve launched it on 360 and PC. But PS3 for Dragon Age was exceptionally fun to do, and I can tell you we’re working on more unannounced PS3 projects right now"

“We're working on more unannounced PS3 projects right now”

And despite the issues with the PS3 version of Dragon Age, the studio enjoy working on Sony's machine.

"For Dragon Age it was interesting – even though we have more experience as a studio working on 360, the typical assessment was that most of the review scores were a little bit higher on PS3, said Muzyka".

The PS3 seems to be favourite among many Dragon Age fans. It represents advantages over 360, and 360 represents advantages over PS3 in some ways. We obviously have a great amount of affection for 360 and we’re going to continue to develop for on that.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Video Streaming Options Coming To PS3

As if the PS3 wasn't already a multimedia powerhouse for entertainment, intent on making you want to rip every other appliance out from under your telly.

In a recent interview with Stan Glasgow, Sony President of Electronics in the US has revealed there will be more video streaming services coming to the console soon.

Although no real details are known about it at the moment, Glasgow did confirm that the PS3 will get support for the BRAVIA Internet Video Link service in the near future.

There’s no indication if this will or won’t make its way beyond the US border but we can always hope.

More streaming video services would definitely be welcome on the PS3


Sony Shows Off 3D LittleBigPlanet

Sony has revealed a stereoscopic 3D version of hit PS3 game LittleBigPlanet .

A video demonstration was shown at MotorStorm developer Evolution Studios yesterday, along with a range of other developmental demos. Attendees enjoyed two playable samplers in the form of the magnificent Super Stardust HD and a 3D demo of Motorstorm: Pacific Rift.

LittleBigPlanet and Gran Turismo 5 were the pick of the non-playable demos, according to Eurogamer technoblacksmith Rich Leadbetter. "The stereoscopic 3D has afforded the parallax scrolling landscapes a phenomenal sense of depth," he said.

"In the original LittleBigPlanet there can be an element of confusion about which of the game's platforms 'live' on which of the three planes of depth. Stereoscopic 3D puts an end to that, ensuring each of the parallax elements occupies its own distinct area within the 3D space". This, reckons Leadbetter, is a cool example of how the move to 3D technology does represent genuine gameplay advantages.

Another eye-catching part of the demo was the starting sequence, which showed Sackboy change from 2D to 3D as he put on his own 3D glasses.

Sony refuses to be drawn on exact games that will be released with its forthcoming range of 3DTVs, and won't commit to a timeline either. However, the screens themselves along with two PS3 system updates (one for 3D movies, the other for games) have been given tentative summer release dates.


VidZone: "Just As Successful As Spotify"

London team behind increasingly popular music service say streaming app attracts thousands of new users

Over two million PS3 owners have downloaded the music streaming app VidZone.

And the team behind the service say they are helping to attract thousands of new users to the platform – even giving comparable services like Spotify a run for their money.

More than two million users have signed up for the free service, watching 200 million videos in just six months – the London-based creators say this makes VidZone the biggest dedicated music video streaming app in the world.

Built via a collaboration with SCEE, VidZone offers content from thousands of independent record labels and many of the major ones.

VidZone’s CEO Adrian Workman told MCV: “In any industry, those numbers are phenomenal – it’s a significant milestone. VidZone continues to surge on PS3 and is an incredibly well-received consumer proposition.


Rumour – PS3 Motion Controller Is Called Arc

VG247 has it on good authority that Sony has named its PS3 Motion Controller “Arc”.

The information comes from a concrete source speaking under conditions of strict anonymity.

Sony has never said what the wand-based system is to be called, admitting only that is used to be called Gem, a past internal codename inadvertently outed by EA CEO John Riccittiello at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference last month.

The company is now saying its Motion Controller – the official name thus far – will release “this year”: global boss Kaz Hirai had previously claimed it would be out this March.

The Motion Controller consists of one or two wand devices, each topped with a trackable ball. It works with PSEye.

We saw PlayStation’s tech guys running the system at Develop last year; get the news from that here.

VG247 contacted Sony for comment.

Update – SCEE: "We don’t comment on rumour or speculation".


Monday, January 18, 2010

God Of War III Dev Wants 3D Patch

In an exclusive interview with NowGamer, God of War III game director, Stig Asmussen, has confirmed that Kratos could be headed for the stereoscopic treatment.

Here's a snip:

"I know that it is something, having talked to one of our engineers, that we could do," Asmussen told NowGamer. "We don't have one of those 3D TVs so we wouldn't be able to see what it looked like if we're able to do it, and I'm sure that it would require a little bit of ramp up to do it, but from my understanding it's not incredibly complicated".


Nolan North Spills On Uncharted 3

Acording to Nolan North has apparently revealed he's to reprise his role as Nathan Drake this year, suggesting that Uncharted 3 will be in production this year.

North has fast become the voice of videogames, lending his talents to Halo 3: ODST, Assassin's Creed 2 and Shadow Complex in 2009 alone. 2010 looks set to be an equally busy year for North, with the actor telling GamePro that he's working on the sequel to Assassin's Creed 2 – which has already been acknowledged by Ubisoft – as well as a sequel to Uncharted 2 and "a couple of other big premiers that are still unannounced".

A third entry in the Uncharted series would come as no surprise given the success enjoyed by the games to date, with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves being crowned IGN's Game of the Year 2009. IGN even made a little video to celebrate the fact. If voice work is commencing on the game this year we could be seeing it sooner than expected.


Sony Expands PlayStation Into Vietnam

Sony Computer Entertainment Asia (SCE Asia) today announced that the company has initiated its PlayStation business in Socialist Republic of Vietnam on 16th January, 2010, making the world’s popular computer entertainment systems and services available to the PlayStation fans and consumers in the country. Vietnam will be the 8th country and region in the SCE Asia territories.

Along with the initiation of the PlayStation business in Vietnam, SCE Asia will introduce to the market, PlayStation 3 with a 120GB HDD, PlayStation 2, the world’s most selling computer entertainment system and the PSP handheld entertainment system. The PS3, PlayStation 2 and PSP system has become available in stores from 16th January, 2010, at the very attractive suggested retail prices of Vietnamese Dong 9,990,000 ($540), VND 4,490,000 ($243) and VND 5,990,000 ($324) respectively (including tax).

The PS3 system (CECH-2006A) features a new meticulous design with textured surface finish, giving an all new impression and a casual look. The PSP-3006 will be available in Piano Black and Pearl White.

Along with a vast line-up of attractive and exciting entertainment content with the PS3, PlayStation 2 and PSP, SCE Asia will continue to further expand the PlayStation platforms and create a new world of computer entertainment in Asian countries and regions.


Worlds First 'Heavy Rain' Review Is In.

Offical PlayStation Magazine got the world’s first review of Heavy Rain this month, giving the Quantic PS3 exclusive 9/10.

Here’s a snip:

"Certainly there’s nothing quite like it on PS3, or indeed any other system. Put gaming conventions aside, go in with no expectations other than this is something new and massively good-looking, and you’ll be rewarded with a unique experience that lurches between genius and madness, manages to be genuinely emotional, and that you’ll be bursting to talk about with your friends".

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

The game is released on February 23 in the US, and February 26 in the UK.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Porn Industry Is Going All 3D On Us As Well

So Sony's big 3D vision is being shared by another new industry - the porn business.

One firm has developed a huge 3D package for porn lovers and it's apparently set to be the next big thing.

No pun intended.

Visitors to the Las Vegas show flocked to the hi-tech stall to don the 3D "active shutter glasses" to try out the virtual films.

The firm's 3D package consists of a 60-inch (152-centimeter) 3D TV, a compact computer server, and shutter glasses that sync with the screen to trick eyes into viewing in 3D.

The Bad Girls system is priced at £2,000 and a subscription to the online video library costs £10 a month.


PopCap Games: To Donate 100% Of Revenue Made From To Haiti

Team up with PopCap to help people in need – just by buying a PopCap® game! On Saturday, January 16th, PopCap will donate everything you spend on to help the earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti.

All you have to do is make any purchase at, and we'll send the proceeds to Partners in Health – one of many great organizations that are working hard to help those in need.

This is just one way you and PopCap can show how much we care. Team up with us today – and thanks for making the world a better place!


Quantum Theory - First Gameplay Footage

Aliens vs Predator ' Kill Moves' Trailer

Bioshock 2 TV Trailer

Split Second Gameplay Video

PS3 Firmware v3.15 Becomes Mandatory

PS3 Firmware v3.15 which was released back in December has now become a MANDATORY install for PS3 owners.

The firmware boasts increased stability as well as a minis emulator for the PS3.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII English Trailer - My Hands

Toyota FT-86G Concept Gran Turismo 5 Trailer

Sony Releases Top 10 PlayStation Store Downloads For 2009

Today, Sony has released a list of the top 10 premium downloads from the PlayStation Store for 2009. The map packs for Call of Duty: World at War were the most popular downloads on PSN in 2009 and Battlefield 1943 claims the award for top PSN game of the year:

1. Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 1

2. Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 2

3. Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 3

4. FIFA 09 Gold Pack

5. Final Fantasy VII (PS3/PSP)

6. Battlefield 1943

7. Fat Princess


9. Flower

10. Mortal Kombat II

1/8 Of All iPlayer Usage Came From Wii & PS3 In December

Sir Terry Wogan's grand finale as he bowed out of his breakfast show and Top Gear's Bolivia special have helped BBC iPlayer smash new records.

The on-demand service received a total of 115 million requests for TV and radio shows in December and created a new record for the number of requests in a month.

The BBC said the last two weeks of December also saw a massive increase in people accessing shows through games consoles. One in eight of all TV requests were coming from a Nintendo Wii or Sony PS3 console - up 74% since November 2009.

The final Wake Up To Wogan on BBC Radio 2 helped make the week beginning December 14 a record week for radio requests on iPlayer. Figures showed that there were 246,000 requests to hear the 'Togmeister' saying farewell, more than for any other radio show in December, with 7.7 million radio requests received in total for that week.

Erik Huggers, director of Future Media and Technology, said: "Breaking the 100 million barrier is a great way to kick off 2010 and these figures show that by offering simple and varied access to BBC iPlayer people are really finding it easy to catch up with their favourite programmes at a time that suits them".

Top Gear's Bolivia special, which originally aired on BBC2, was the most popular iPlayer TV show over Christmas, receiving more than a million requests.

Lumped together, parts one and two of BBC1's Doctor Who: The End of Time, which saw David Tennant's tear-jerking exit from the show, pulled in more than 1.3 million requests.

The week of December 28 saw 17.3 million requests come in for TV alone, creating a new record for television programme requests in a week. Day two of the England v South Africa test match was the most popular radio programme over Christmas, with 224,800 requests, followed by Tennant's appearance on Desert Island Discs, which received 77,100.

US God Of War 3 Box Art Revealed

Looks like the box art for one of 2010's biggest releases is out, going by the ESRB rating it looks like this should end up on the US store shelves this march.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Split/Second Release Date Revealed

Disney Interactive Studios has today revealed the release date for their forthcoming racing title, Split/Second. Currently in development at Black Rock Studio, the team behind 2008’s well respected PURE, Split/Second will be available on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 simultaneously.

You have made the cut to join a group of elite drivers chosen to participate in the global broadcast event known as Split/Second. Racing through a city created specifically for destruction, your goal is to become the season champ where fame, fortune and glory await. But first, you must survive a gruelling 24-episode season of races in a variety of explosive locations to crush the competition and become the champion. When speed is not enough, the city is your weapon.

Players in Split/Second don’t just collide with other vehicles to knock them from the track, but can also trigger devastating events and epic Hollywood-style explosions to take out your opponents and drastically alter the dynamics of the race. Being fast is not enough as players must use strategy and pinpoint timing to obliterate huge structures and towering TV set pieces to tactically alter the track or create entirely new routes.

Split/Second, developed by Black Rock Studio, is set to launch across Europe on March 26th 2010, courtesy of Disney Interactive Studios.

Yamauchi: GT5 To Use 80% Of PS3’s Power

Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi has estimated in an interview with Venturebeat that Gran Turismo 5 will use "80%" of PS3’s processing power.

Asked how much of the system’s capability the racer will use compared to Uncharted 2 .
Yamauchi replied:
"It is about the same for the PS3, about 80 percent of the processing power".
"The PS3 hardware has a very high peak performance. The better you manipulate it, the better it performs".

Yesterday, Sony delayed Gran Turismo 5, but only for Japan’s release in March.

There is no date yet for the US or Europe: something SCEE will be announcing "in due course".

It was announced earlier this week that the GT Time Trial demo, seen as a taster for the full game, was downloaded over 1 million times since its launch in December last year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sony Working On New Disc Format, Possibly For PS4

In a recent interview with Play3, Sony’s Senior VP of Product Development, Shuhei Yoshida said that the PlayStation 4 will use optical storage discs like Blu-Ray for blockbuster games. This was surprising considering Sony’s digital push with UMD-less PSPgo, and the trend the gaming industry has shown toward digital distribution.

So if the PS4 is to feature an optical disc drive, what will the storage format be? Will we see yet another Blu-Ray equipped console? Or will Sony usher in a new technology much like the PS2 did with DVD and the PS3 did with Blu-Ray? We may have the answer after the jump…

Considering Sony’s track record of innovation and “future proofing” their consoles, it’s hard to believe that Sony will yet again equip their console with a Blu-Ray drive. Blu-Ray is what’s hot currently, and while games still aren’t quite filling Blu-Ray discs’ maximum storage capacity, the format is clearly the “present” and not the “future”. To fully “future proof” the PS4 to withstand the standard PlayStation 10-year lifecycle, Sony is going to need to go above and beyond Blu-Ray.

Sony, not-to-be outdone by anyone, is rumored to be working on a successor to Blu-Ray. According to an article in the current issue of GameInformer magazine (Dead Space Cover; Issue 201) Sony is hard at work on “the next jump”, a disc similar to the previously announced Holographic Versatile Disc. The disc is said to have a capacity of 6TB (terabytes) or 6,000GB (gigabytes), more than enough to support 1080p HD video, 3D imagery, uncompressed loseless HD audio, along with any other AV codec you could throw at it. On top of all that storage, the format can use the massive amount of available space to implicate extra security measures, a major positive when pitching the format to game developers (and movie studios) who don’t want their games pirated.

It’s difficult enough looking into the future to predict such a need, even more so now with digital distribution becoming more and more prevalent. Sony has done it in the past with Blu-Ray and with the help of the PlayStation 3, made the format an everyday, household name. While Blu-Ray is here to stay and certainly has plenty of life left in it, so does the PlayStation 3. When the time arrives for the PlayStation 4 to be released, there could be a need for such a massive capacity storage medium. If Sony sees a need for such a format in the future, they’d likely look to the PlayStation 4 to replicate the success the PS3 had in ushering in Blu-Ray.

Do you see a need for such a technology? Do you think the Sony would take the risk again with another new format debuting on a PlayStation console? Or have they learned a lesson from the PS3’s launch price and initial reception?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Super Stardust 3D: 720p,120fps Confirmed

Last Saturday, Digital Foundry over at , they took a look at the 3D gaming potential soon to be unlocked by a new system upgrade for the PlayStation 3. We talked about what was out there already, discussed Ubisoft's Avatar and the performance levels of current 3D titles, and suggested that Sony was planning something more technologically advanced than what we've seen in the current implementations of 3D games - something that justified the upcoming firmware upgrade.

Our theory? It made sense that the PS3 upgrade would facilitate support for the new 3D protocols in the HDMI 1.4 standard, specifically the provision for full resolution 3D - basically a double-height, or double-width framebuffer. Thanks to an assist from SCEE, Digital Foundry had the chance to pose a few questions to the Housemarque Super Stardust HD tech team: engine lead Seppo Halonen and creative director Harri Tikkanen.

The answers are hugely enlightening, revealing that Sony's stereoscopic 3D system is indeed based on the notion of full 720p resolution, unlike the current 3D games released to date. This is hugely significant, confirming that the new version of Super Stardust HD is effectively running at a native resolution of full 720p at a staggering 120 frames per second (60 for each eye). We're talking about something not just based on low-resolution buffers as in Invincible Tiger and Avatar, but something new, exciting and a whole lot more challenging to achieve: a true technical leap, and a definite unique selling point for the Sony platform.

Digital Foundry: Can you give us some idea of the re-engineering you had to do to Super Stardust HD in order to support 3D?

Seppo Halonen: For the first thing, we took SSHD and made it use the current revision of our game engine with over a year of additional development. As the engine is highly modular it was mainly a matter of adding stereoscopic cameras and configuring the engine to render everything twice. That was of course just the beginning: after that we had to optimise a lot, as we now had 8.3ms instead of 16.7ms to render a frame. Luckily we had 50 per cent of the SPU power left, so we tapped into that. The current version of the game heavily pre-processes the data that goes to RSX to make sure it can chew through it as quickly as possible.

Digital Foundry: What's the general principle behind your interpretation of 3D? Two lower-resolution frames incorporated into the PS3's 60Hz playback, or something more advanced? Is there support for 1080p?

Seppo Halonen: We render two full-resolution 720p frames with identical content compared to standard mode. Doubling the rendering is quite a challenge in itself to begin with, and we are happy with current 720p 60FPS stereo mode.

Digital Foundry: What are the main challenges of stereoscopic 3D - are you bound by pixel shaders, vertex shaders, drawcalls?

Seppo Halonen: It depends entirely on the game, and even different parts of a game are going to be bound by different things. For SSHD it was mainly drawcalls and polygons - we have lots of objects with lots of polygons and massive particle effects. I solved the issue by moving vertex processing from GPU to SPU and merging as many objects as possible to one drawcall. Previously every asteroid chunk and every enemy was in a separate drawcall; in the stereo version they go out in a few fell swoops.

Digital Foundry: Is support for 3D going to be a consideration for all your future PS3 games?

Harri Tikkanen: Some games lend themselves better to 3D than others, so we will make the decision on a game by game basis.

Want to know more about the origins of Housemarque's Super Stardust HD? Check out the Digital Foundry tech retrospective for an in-depth account on the development of what remains one of the best shooters of the current console generation.


SCEE Confirms £110 Pricetag For GoW III Ultimate Trilogy Edition In UK

SCEE’s confirmed to today that the God of War III Ultimate Trilogy Edition will set you back £110 when it releases in March.

The package, which consists of the God of War Collection and GoW III itself as well as some other special bits like soundtracks and exclusive DLC.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sony Shows Off Super Stardust HD In 3D

PlayStation 3 will receive a firmware update to display 3D movies and video games.

Avatar: The Game is one of the first 3D-enabled games to arrive at retail, but it won't be the last and it's possible that publishers could release patches to add 3D to already released games.

Like, for example, Super Stardust HD.

Sony briefly showed a clip of Super Stardust HD, the popular PlayStation Network downloadable twin-stick shooter, in 3D during their CES 2010 press conference. It appeared to be playable on the CES show floor too, along with Gran Turimo 5 and Avatar: The Game.

PlayStation 3 Sells 3.8 Million Units Wordwide In December

On the heels of its CES 2010 keynote speech, Sony released a press release declaring worldwide sales “exceeding 3.8 million” of the PlayStation 3 during the 2009 holiday season.

According to the company, “during the five weeks following the last week of November 2009″ , the console sold more than during any previous holiday season and had a 76% increase over 2008 numbers.

PS3 VidZone Downloads Pass 2 Million

VidZone is currently celebrating the fact that its PS3 client has been downloaded over two MILLION times. Personally, we absolutely love the service and think its a great coup for the PS3.

Hit music video streaming service VidZone has seen its PS3 client downloaded over 2m times, VidZone Digital Media has confirmed.

In addition, the service has now delivered over 200m videos to its many users spread across 18 countries .Throughout 2009 VidZone snared some high-profile video exclusives from the likes of U2, The Prodigy and Groove Amada.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sony Increasing The Storage Capacity Of Blu-Ray Discs

Sony and Panasonic have announced plans to increase the capacity of Blu-Ray discs (such as those used by PS3 games) from 25GB to 33.4GB. Hideo Kojima will be so pleased!

According to a report from Nikkei, the increase comes courtesy of some new ways to evaluate content on the disc. Or, in more technical terms, is thanks to new partial response maximum likelihood (PRML) signal processing, which "assumes inter-symbol interference, which makes it difficult to base optical disc quality evaluation on jitter, as is widely done now for Blu-ray and many other optical discs".

Now, there's good news, and there's good news. Good news first: this advance will be compatible with all existing Blu-Ray players, as all that's required is a firmware update. So the technology will find its way to PS3 games soon enough.

And the good news? The increase applies to all layers of the disc. So as soon as dual-layered Blu-Ray discs start becoming common, you'll be able to fit 66.8GB of data on a disc.

Say Hello To Snowy Sackboy..........

The sackboy upgrades to snow!

Just as adorable as ever, but unfortunately, much more terminal.

TheMethod of the Offiical PlayStation forums shared his homemade snowy Sackboy.

And since the PS forums is still in the spirit of giving, TheMethod will be receiving a copy of Ratchet & Clank: A Crank in Time and a MotorStorm t-shirt from the forums' Community Team Leader.

Pirates Claim PS3 Hack Success

Hackers claim to have found way to play copied software on Sony’s previously impervious console.

With piracy rife in the Wii, Xbox 360, DS and PSP markets, the PS3 has to date proved the only current-gen machine to successfully fend off the hackers – but it seems that things could be about to change.

According to reports on Maxconsole, a lengthy and convoluted workaround has been discovered that allows users to play pirated copies of Killzone 2, PES 2008 and Burnout Paradise.

Users are also required to have an older PS3 (i.e. not a ‘Slim’ machine) onto which third party OS software can be installed as well as copies of Windows XP, the original MotorStorm and a host of piracy-related DVD software.

The exploit, however, has been met with widespread scepticism amongst many in the hacker community, not least because of the extreme cost and effort needed to implement it.

Even if the hack is real, any detrimental effects are likely to be minimal for now. The fear, however, is that this method could be the start of full-fledged hacking of Sony’s console.

This Is It, The Michael Jackson PS3 Bundle Coming To Japan

No, your eyes do not deceive you.

There is a Michael Jackson PS3 bundle, and it’s coming to Japan on January 27th.

The pack will contain a 120Gb PS3, a DualShock 3 controller, power cable, AV cable, USB lead and a copy of the documentary 'This Is It' on Blu-ray.

It will go on sale for ¥33,500.

Here's To A Great 2010 Gaming Year