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Use Enterprise SSD to supercharge your home theater

I was looking to lower the power use of my PS3, since I use it a lot for watching youtube news, Netflix, and educational videos in the background as I’m working.

This thing’s been sitting in a box, basically brand new since if I was ever a gamer I was into PC games, and bought it years ago because of the cool factor of the Cell Processor. Prior to replacing platter drive, I noticed that the system was very hard on it due to caching. Because of this, I decided to use one of my backup Enterprise Intel SSD’s to replace it, due to the high durability ratings and large on disk DRAM cache… After updating the SSD firmware and completing the replacement, I noticed a dramatic improvement in picture and sound clarity. Then I remembered a trip I took back in 2007, when I traveled to UW Madison School of Engineering to Market IBM’s leading edge technology from that time period as part of an initiative to get students interested in engineering. The hardware I was presenting from the company was the Cell Processor used in this system from that time period.

In short, adding this type of error correcting/large cache business class drive to the PS3 totally changes its performance abilities relative to streaming video reproduction. This due to the high precision and throughput capabilities of the Cell, and it’s video disk caching feature.

I made a video for anyone that’s interested in checking this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kdRukO50ts

Feel free to comment or ask questions about any specific configuration items I haven’t mentioned. There are a lot of other dependencies which are not mentioned in the video, such as firewall configuration and PS3 video and audio settings. The color and clarity improvements are also much more noticeable on televisions capable of displaying a wider color gamut, such as plasma or OLED tv’s. I have little doubt that this would have a similar effect on a PS4, though I am not too familiar with it’s hardware configuration and whether or not its internal interfaces are compatible with enterprise storage standards. If anyone else knows, feel free to comment.

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Could you tell us which model SSD you are using?

I have tried an SSD in the PS3 before and noticed on games like GTA V, the game loads ~ 15 seconds faster and has less texture dithering. Never noticed a difference with video besides startup time.

But I don’t understand your claim above about video reproduction quality since the PS3 had SATA II (Not 3). This would mean that the bus is now the bottle neck. Also, the PS3 does not support trim so be careful. And I don’t see how that would change video quality since the CELL BE is basically operating as a big DSP. It will “buffer” until the cache is full and should not care about the speed of the SSD once the buffer is full. Since the PS3 only accepts video in specific formats anyway, the HDD of all things should not make a difference.

Sorry, I didn’t see that there was a response to this message until now. No problem!

I’m using an Intel DC 3500 series drive, but any Data Center class drive with a SATA interface from Intel will do the job. This drive was discontinued a while ago. I had one sitting in storage as a backup drive for my main system.

There are probably Business Class drives from other brands that have similar end-to-end data protection technology.

The benefit you get from the replacement is not so much about speed, although there’s no question that speed helps here. It’s about the “data verification process” that exists on these specific drives. That added feature is one of several that adds to the slowness of these SSD’s relative to their much faster counterparts of the era.

Regarding the SATA II vs SATA III interface. A slower interface on a device that is alleged not to have trim support is a benefit, rather than a drawback in this configuration. Clearly, a slower interface provides more headroom for the wear leveling algorithm to complete operations as needed. If you’ve ever done independent testing on SATA I interfaces using SATA III drives, you may also have noticed that motherboard hardware often is capable of much more than the stated rate. Truthfully, every old SATA I motherboard I’ve tested with newer SATA II and III spec drives have performed at full SATA II and III speed.

Although, this performance measurement is not the focus of this post or crucial to achieving the desired error correction, I would not be surprised if the interface on the PS3 is capable of saturating the drive I/O controller as those old motherboards I’ve tested way back when were. I’ve always been mystified by people’s and manufacturers obsession with ever faster flash interface technologies, NVMe and SATA III, while the real limits of the flash are far far lower. Burst speeds on SATA I interfaces saturate all the SATA III drives I’ve ever tested, for my own purposes, due to the speed of the flash, yet the march forward in this area continues, lol.

Anyway, the difference between SATA I and III seems to have been irrelevant on all non-raid systems I’ve tested, and limited by the slowness of flash in all cases. In other words, a SATA I interface can wreck any flash drive if you hammer it hard enough, long enough, as fast as the drive will allow, which I’ve done, lol. Good times! (not really)

You address the lack of trim , how ?

Trim is helpful but not required on these drives. Data Center drives are designed to have sufficiently advanced wear leveling capability to provide a constant level (albeit much slower) of performance relative to their consumer counterparts. That’s one of several differences these kinds of drives tend to have. They have to be able to deliver reliable transaction processing as stated in their performance spec’s in all varieties of server environments businesses may have or need, that may or may not have TRIM support. The nand itself, if memory serves from way back when I did the research on this, is also more resilient on Intel drives because of improvements in the manufacturing process they made back during this time-frame. Intel, at least at the time of production of the DC3500 series drive, was highly acclaimed over other manufacturers for the quality of it’s nand. At the time, they had made significant investments in this area, which is something I hope they continue to do.

Just a side note: I’m not really trying to appear like an Intel fanboy, but I have to give them the credit on this. I know a lot of us have been let down by performance impacts from Meltdown and Spectre, as I have with my v2 Xeon’s. At the end of the day, though, it looks to me like they chose to make some things “less good” for their own reasons which I don’t profess to understand. Other things, such as these, do show that they know how to make things well.

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Thanks for the reply. No worries. Not all of us live on the forvm. No need to apologize.

I found this post online, which implies (to me anyway) that TRIM support has been added. (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/df-hardware-playstation-3-12gb-super-slim-review)

I don’t like making these kinds of assumptions without documented verification, but it seems very unlikely that this 12GB device would be released and the firmware updates that follow it would not support TRIM for all other devices containing NAND using ATA.

It’s too bad SONY doesn’t explicitly list this sort of thing when they post firmware updates, since an SSD upgrade is such a no brain-er for so many folks that buy these systems. It’s also a significant performance upgrade, which is a key factor for people that buy them, and TRIM support is so ubiquitous on other computing devices the implementation of it shouldn’t be expensive or problematic at all.

On the other hand, the PS3 does not support 4K video even though the hardware specs look to be far beyond what’s needed for it. These specs are about the same as a 2014 Nvidia Quaddro K620 card. Video processing, after all, is already “predigested” from a raw compute perspective, where video games require more dynamic rendering power.

Anyone that knows more about whether TRIM is or isn’t included are more than welcome to chime in. I’ve seen reports that folks have been using consumer SSD’s and seeing virtually no degradation over the span of years, which also implies TRIM support was added. It’s still not that clear though, because the version of Linux that a lot of folks think CellOS is based on looks to only have introduced native TRIM support in mid 2019. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeBSD).

It probably doesn’t matter, I just don’t like not knowing, lol :slight_smile: