Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Apr 2010 21:21 UTC, submitted by Jim Lynch
Games A different take on Sony's removal of the Other OS feature of fat PS3s. "The reality probably is that Sony loses money on every PS3 it sells, counting on game sales to make up for the loss in revenue. Academic institutions using PS3s for clusters aren't likely to buy games or engage in online commerce. That's why, when you hear that the US military was planning to buy 2200 PS3 consoles to upgrade an existing PS3-based supercomputing cluster, Sony doesn't jump for joy. I suspect it was news like this, plus other sales for clustering, that prompted Sony to turn off the 'Other OS' feature for existing PS3s."
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Sony's failure
by Ravyne on Mon 5th Apr 2010 00:33 UTC
Ravyne
Member since:
2006-01-08

I don't think it has anything to do with lost software revenue, as the summary implies. After all, yes they may have lost some money on each of those units sold into a cluster situation, and won't make it back on software sales for those units, but its also the type of publicity that would normally require you to pay for it. Remember how many "Entity X buys Y Playstation 3 consoles for supercomputer." stories there were when the PS3 came out?

Furthermore, if "subsidizing" these supercomputers was really a problem, they could have come up with a liscense that forbade (at least theoretically, in some countries) purchase of retail units for that purpose, and then sold specially-liscenced versions at a proper rate -- or they could have made back that money some other way, such as by offering support, as most commercial Linux distributions do.


Honestly, I think the 'Other OS' option played a huge role in keeping the system secure for so long. By making the other OS available, they gave the folks that just wanted to play with the fancy hardware or run computations on it what they wanted, thereby diverting the effort that would have otherwise been poured into cracking it from the beginning.

Once it was cracked, they reacted entirely the wrong way -- taking the feature away only ensures that the system will see even more attention from crackers wishing to retain the feature. As for Geohot himself, it may have been more prudent, from the standpoint of ensuring the continued support of the Other OS feature, so simply have said "I have an exploit. Here's proof. I won't release the details as long as Other OS remains supported."

That said, it really would have been nice for Sony to have exposed more of the functionality of the PS3, such as the GPU. Agreements with nVidia surely forbade such a thing by exposing the chip directly, but it should have been possible for them to run a virtual GPU of sorts in the hypervisor layer, acting as a driver behind the scenes, and exposed to the linux kernel as a sort of idealized GPU -- indeed that's more or less what they do, except they only expose a framebuffer interface. Had they exposed even some of the GPU grunt -- say half of what's actually available, then they would have made the homebrew crowd happy, given small/indie studios the chance to prototype on *real* hardware, and taken away one more bit of incentive from the crackers.

I think they'd find much more positive feedback if they did more to actually embrace open-ness, rather than trying to bend it to their own designs.

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