Generally, console hardware gains new features over time, but that hasn't been the case with the PlayStation 3.
When the PS3 first launched in late 2006, the flagship model had a 60GB hard drive, a memory card reader and hardware backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 games. Cost cutting measures came in for the $599 console, and the features quickly axed were the memory card reader, and eventually all the dedicated hardware for PS2 games were stripped out.
Now Sony could be looking at a way of reintroducing hardware backwards compatibility back to the PlayStation 3, as hinted in a recent Japanese patent filing.
According to Siliconera, the proposed patent shows a diagram of hardware that has its own processor, a DVD decoder/emulator, sound processor, and graphic processor. Essentially, it sounds like a whole other console. Given that the original launch PS3 had PS2 processors inside, the need for dedicated hardware isn't surprising.
Only time will tell if Sony moves forward with this backwards compatibility add-on for this generation.