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Sony Files Patent on PS2 Emulator

If a recent article posted by Siliconera holds true, Sony plans to re-fit the PlayStation 3 (PS3) console with the ability to emulate PlayStation 2 (PS2) games once again. Earlier models of the PS3 (20 GB and 60 GB NTSC) originally featured the PS2's Emotion Engine processor, enabling the newer model the ability to play older games without the need for software emulation. However, to cut down the overwhelming cost of the PS3, Sony decided to remove the chip and attempt software emulation on two models (60 GB PAL, 80 GB NTSC). Those who bought the newer PS3 console without hardware or software emulation have been forced to pull out the older PS2 from the closet, or pick up a fresh new PS2 Slim for roughly $100.

But a patent filed by Sony back in December 2008 could change all that, as it describes a method that would allow the PS3's Cell processor to translate code from the PS2's Emotion Engine processor. Apparently, this process will be unlike the previous emulator that was limited to playing certain games. Rather, the new method will serve as a complete replicator of the PS2 processor. This would mean that every existing PlayStation 3 console will be backwards compatible. It's also speculated that this emulator will be built into the rumored PlayStation 3 Slim, and will more than likely be offered as a system update for all current PS3 owners.

The big question to ask Sony is why it didn't install this emulator in the beginning. And what exactly is the difference between the old emulator and the one used in the patent? Siliconera explained it as: the old emulator acted like a translator, as if someone converted English to Japanese twenty-four hours a day, non-stop. The new process instead, translates a set of words and then stores them in a 'dictionary that can be referenced.' In this case, it will translate instructions based on the Emotion Engine chip into referenced chunks.

Currently PS3 owners can purchase, download and play digital versions of PlayStation (One) games through the PlayStation Store. This may also be the case for PS2 games in the near future rather than allowing gamers to play the older disks. Of course, everything is mere speculation at this point--despite the patent filing--until Sony comes forward with an official announcement.