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PlayStation (Games) Sony Games

The PS3's "Yellow Light of Death" 292

Posted by Soulskill
from the doesn't-have-the-same-ring-to-it dept.
Xest writes "More and more reports are appearing about PlayStation 3 consoles failing in a similar way to the earlier models of the Xbox 360, except for Sony, it's the 'Yellow Light of Death.' The BBC has an interesting article which suggests the problem could be almost identical to that which caused the Red Ring of Death — poor soldering connections. From the article: 'Several of those businesses have told Watchdog that the vast majority of consoles they see with the "yellow light of death" can be repaired by heating up specific parts of the circuit board. This process is called solder re-flow. By heating the connections between the components and the circuit board to temperatures in excess of 200 Celsius, the metal solder joints melt, just like they did when the device was first assembled. Console repairers say that this process method is commonly used to repair fractured connections, or dry joints.' But that's not the only rule from Microsoft's playbook Sony has been following; while they have admitted 12,500 out of 2.5 million systems have failed (a convenient 0.5%), they refuse to release full figures of failure rates, citing them as being 'commercially sensitive.' Unfortunately, Sony does not appear to be following Microsoft's lead with regard to an extended warranty, stating that if a PS3 fails after 12 months, it is not their problem. In the UK at least, the Sale of Goods Act would disagree with that statement."
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The PS3's "Yellow Light of Death"

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  • How about Nintendo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ambvai (1106941) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:05PM (#29473575)

    So it seems that Microsoft has gotten a LOT of press over this... Sony is picking it up now... how have survival rates been for the Wii?

    • by Tanman (90298) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:13PM (#29473611)

      It's hard to tell -- wiimotes impaling consoles have skewed the numbers. It's called the "White Wiimote of Death"

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:19PM (#29473633)

      Not sure how they are on failure rates, but when it comes to customer service, they are awesome! Nintendo DS failed on me and they didn't ask for a receipt, date of purchase or anything; shipped me another right out at no cost with a label to ship the failed one back for free.

      • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc[ ].com ['.rr' in gap]> on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:13PM (#29474113) Homepage

        I can second that, I had left a DS lite in my pocket...forgot it was there and went four wheeling...cracked both screens. It was only a couple months old but was clearly my fault. I called Nintendo and told them what I had done, they thanked me for my honesty told me the price to repair and then said they would share the cost. The entire replacement cost $50 and was done in less than 10 days.

        Compare that to my PSP which spontaneously just stopped reading umd disks. It had never left my house and was kept in a techshell case since day one. I had it less than 6 moths, the Sony rep told me that I must have dropped it since they didnt just fail on their own. I was then told it would be $95 to repair since it was in their opinion abuse and not covered under warranty. I love sony's products but I buy them with full knowledge that they are disposable items.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270)

          In my experience, Sony = Sucks to Own Next Year.... :-)

          I stopped buying Sony products about five years ago because of a long series of bizarre product problems, including products that took multiple repairs before they worked, products that never really worked well, etc. About the only product I've ever gotten from them that wasn't a train wreck was my Sony Ericsson phone, and even that was pretty clumsy, had a bizarre screen distortion if you kept it in your pocket, and had a joystick that didn't work rel

          • by parasonic (699907) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:16AM (#29475951)
            Sony does tend to have that "sucks to own next year" thing going on (as does Toshiba), but there are manufacturing problems all across the board. And the biggest one?

            RoHS

            Electronics have been soldered together for close to a hundred years with leaded solder. Then, the Europeans decided that it would be a really good idea to just pull the lead out of everything. Good move.

            What can you replace the lead with? That's a really tough question, and companies have been trying to figure this out in the aftermath. You can't just throw silver or copper into the mix and expect everything to be the same. It ends up that when you do, the solder has a significantly higher melting point (i.e. ever tried desoldering RoHS process solder?) and is incredibly brittle. Where lead would stretch or distort, RoHS solder snaps. And here is your problem.

            With IC package miniaturization, consumer electronics now use chip packages without leads. Cellular phones, portable devices, video cards, and many more now use BGA packages, where there are hundreds of balls of solder on the underside of the chip. Each ball has very little mechanical stability as the balls are so small. When the chip's CTE is not exactly matched to the board's CTE, one expands (or contracts) more quickly than the other, and BAM! you have a cold solder joint.

            So in the end, what is worse for the environment? Throwing away a Sony product and buying another every year rather than three? Or dumping/recycling the product after three?

            RoHS: Planned Obsolescence
            • by ctmurray (1475885) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:10AM (#29476769) Journal
              In addition, the replacement no-let solder formulations ran into issues that some of the best were patented and thus rejected because the OEMs did not want to be tied to a single vendor. They liked the old solder model of being able to get solder from multiple suppliers. So the solder formulations that were not patented were selected, but they don't have the best properties. Also, each OEM may be selecting a different formulation, but the contract manufacturer may not be set up or experienced in using that formulation to obtain the best soldering. This pdf file [slashdot.org] shows some of the many formulations available, if they are patented and some quick comments about each.

              From the same pdf file:
              Solder manufacturers have found that no lead-free alloy is a simple "drop-in" replacement as far as solder paste fluxes are concerned. All are currently developing new products that will perform well with the new alloy chemistries and process conditions. Each element, and resultant alloy, has unique characteristics with regard to oxidation, surface tension, reflow, and wetting. Solder paste fluxes must be formulated to address the specific alloy(s) of choice. Some solder paste manufacturers have made great advances and are presently offering viable lead-free solder paste products.
            • by MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:42AM (#29477015)

              having worked with RoHS boards myself i can attest to this. Additionally the paste tends to be more difficult to work with, the formulations i've used dry out faster and when producing large batches of product you can end up with cake-y paste that doesn't adhere well to the contact pads on the boards when they're applied via stencil. Also Different formulations of RoHS paste tend to reflow differently requiring a different temperature model. I can see it would be very easy for there to be consistency issues.

              BGAs (the aforementioned Ball Grid Arrays in the GP) are definitely more finicky than your typical IC, the smaller contact area requires a better pass when being stenciled fresh paste is definitely a must for BGAs. i do find it surprising though to see this leve of failure with the Xbox and the Play Station. in the time that i spent making PCBs we had some very sophisticated tools to verify paste volume on each pad before reflowing to curtail these issues (especially with BGAs) so that the board could be wiped and re-printed. we used x-ray after the boards were reflowed and washed to ensure the joints were solid, and then there was electronic testing as well. and we were a fairly small operation that did mostly prototype stuff in small batches, not one of these large producers.

        • Yeah, well that's just one person's experience, yours, so take this with a grain of salt.

          Here's another person's experience: Mine.

          I purchased my first PS3 off of E-bay, back when they were rather spendy and hard to find (right after they first came out). The unit failed after 14 months or so. I called Sony and informed them of the failure, and they asked me how long it had been since I purchased the PS3, where I had purchased it from, and if I had a receipt. And at this point I thought I was screwed.

          I told them I bought it "about a year ago" which was not a lie, I wasn't exactly sure at the moment. I told them I got it from E-Bay and that I didn't have an original receipt.

          You would think they would have refused me, and offered no help.

          Instead, they sent me a free-shipping box for the old unit, and a new unit free of charge, and asked me to retain my receipts in the future.

          Lo and behold, the new unit failed immediately upon trying to run System Update. I called Sony, informed them of what happened, and they again sent me a free-shipping box, and sent me a new unit free of charge.

          Again, this is just one person's experience. Mine. And as an aside, I've found that it doesn't matter which company I am dealing with, if I am not a jerk to the service rep on the phone, and actually ask them how their day is going and have a genuine conversation with them, instead of just demanding that they fix my problem, I get a LOT further towards a solution. You can talk all the shit you want about a company, you can claim that it shouldn't matter what my attitude is on the phone, but then you can also expect to get a lot lower level of service from people. Despite the fact that you're dealing with a big corporation you are also, at the most basic level, dealing with another human being.

          The procedures and policies a company has for customer service are just your baseline. If you are cordial, polite and genuine with them, you'll find that the baseline at times can be far exceeded.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Narcocide (102829)

      Hmm. You're right there does not seem to be comparatively very many people out there complaining about dead Wii consoles. I wonder why that is...

    • by Shikaku (1129753) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:21PM (#29473643)

      http://bash.org/?803011 [bash.org]

      Nintendo products are quite rugged in general. The only hardware issues that people have sited a lot are the DS lite hinge cracking (which is only cosmetic) and the Wiimote strap.

      Googling turns a number between less than 1% to 2.7%.

      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:26PM (#29473667) Homepage
        I seem to remember quite a few people with worn out analog sticks on their N64. Although I'm not completely sure if those were official Nintendo controllers, I seem to think they were. Also, the Wii doesn't have any problems because it doesn't heat up. It's actually hotter when it's in standby (with the WiFi still on) then when it's playing games, because the fan turns off.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Brian Gordon (987471)

          I remember stuck A and B buttons on the official N64 controllers. SNES controllers were indestructible. You could build a bunker [flickr.com] out of Game Boys.

          • My original black-and-white Game Boy's direction keys started sticking after six years or so; the rubber pad that held the little pieces of metal under each direction button tore, making the metal stay stuck against the contact points. I eventually repaired it by stealing parts from a spare NES controller.

            • by Tyrion Moath (817397) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:45PM (#29473975)

              There's a story in one Nintendo Power from ages long past about a kid who lost his GB in the yard once. It got mowed over twice and rained on and still worked fine, although there was a crack in the screen I think. They had a picture of it too. Impressive craftsmanship.

              • I recall a NIntendo power story about a GB surviving a house fire. The letter included a picture of the GB, now partially melted and very discolored, turned on and running a game on the mostly non-working screen. Pretty sweet.

                • Actually, I see I was probably thinking of the above Gulf War link... the NP article I recall reading is pictured to the right of the GB in the museum display.

        • Everything wears out - shoes, clothes, cars .... and consoles.

          Similarly these rings of death ... is it really supposed to last for years if you give the power connector a hard pull three or four times a day or pile so much junk on top of it that it overheats?

          • by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:15PM (#29473849)
            You obviously never had an original GameBoy. I had one that was handed down to me from my brother, both of us abused it pretty badly. I rediscovered it when visiting my parents a few weeks back, popped four batteries in, and the thing still works exactly as I remember. If I recall right someone had one that survived an explosion in the Gulf War too. I think it might take a silver bullet to the screen to kill one of those suckers.
            • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:31PM (#29473903)
              And when they turn on us, we will be helpless.
            • When I was a kid I dropped my original Game Boy onto some concrete while it was running some game or other. I don't think it noticed.

              I think my brother still has that same Game Boy in a drawer somewhere, though he rarely uses it (in favor of his GBA or DS, depending on the game). Last time I checked (earlier this year) it still worked.

            • by Zero_DgZ (1047348) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:13PM (#29474107)

              I still have my original Gameboy, which my father bought for me when the machine launched in the US. (Incidentally, I got a Gameboy FIRST. I got an NES later.) It still works, but like many original Gameboys it eventually suffered from the Screen Rot of Doom problem, and it's lost probably 25% of its vertical columns of pixels on the left and right edges of the screen. So it works for only suitably small values of "works." Despite a couple of decades of being abused, getting dropped, smashed, sat on, having batteries left in it for years on end, being locked in closed cars, etc., etc. It's surprising that the screen rot problem (which seems to be a function of oxidation and not mechanical failure) is the only thing that's wrong with it.

              I also have a Gameboy Pocket which is not quite as old, but if it were alive it'd be easily old enough to get a driver's license... They corrected the screen rot problem from the Gameboy Pocket on up and mine works flawlessly. Despite the same abuse.

              Come to think of it, even my original front-loading NES still works. It developed the same fatigue problems with the cartridge connector as every other front-loader in the universe, but all I had to do was bend all the pins back and smear a little dielectric grease on them and it works better than new... I don't even have to push the cartridge down anymore.

              My SNES, Genesis, N64, and oodles of Gameboys... All still working great. Even both of my Atari 2600's are still trucking.

              Meanwhile... One of my Playstations: Broken. One of my PS2's has a dead laser, and the other one is in the process of dying. Original Xbox: Dead. One of my Dreamcasts: Dead. Etc., etc. The pattern? Things with moving parts have finite lifetimes. The sad fact is, it seems that optical disk based consoles are just predestined to fail because their piddly little lasers, spindle motors, and tracking assemblies wear out. ROM/cartridge based machines can be made to last forever, partly because the older ones are bog simple machines that barely generate any heat, but also because you can ALWAYS find a way to bodge electrical contact between the cartridge pins and the CPU.

              For this reason I predict that the DS will be the last classic console. Your 30+ year old Atari will probably game on forever, but your 2 year old Xbox, PS3, or Wii can never be expected to.

              Enjoy it while it lasts, kiddos.

              • Hm, I think the general trend is that Japanese products have a long lifetime and American products are built to break. You know this Planned Obsolescence?

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:41PM (#29473723) Journal
        An entire generation of young gamers received their only exercise from blowing vigorously on the connectors for a certain console's cartridges...
      • by fizzding (1171839) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:28PM (#29473893)

        I borrowed Banjo-Kazooie from one of my cousins many years ago. While giving it back to her, we had a snowball fight and it fell out into the snow somewhere.

        Next spring, we found it on the lawn and dried it out. The damn thing still worked fine. A year or so after that, they had brought it on vacation. Their houseboat *burned down then sank*. They recovered it.

        To this day the game works fine.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          I washed my Super mario bros. for GBA, after drying it out it worked fine. Still works to this day with the original save files intact.

          • by mweather (1089505)
            I washed my keyboard in my dishwasher. Dried it out and it still works fine. Water doesn't hurt electronics unless it's submerged for a long time, or it's plugged in when it gets wet.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *

          Their houseboat *burned down then sank*.

          It sank into the swamp, so I built a second one. That sank into the swamp, so I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp! But the fourth one stayed up!!

      • by REggert (823158)

        In any case, everyone knows that if your Nintendo games don't work properly, all you need to do is blow the dust out of the cartridge.

      • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

        My brother mashed the D-pad on his Game Boy Advance so severely that the up and left directions barely work at all any more. That's after several years of use, though, and he's insanely rough on controllers in general.

              --- Mr. DOS

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Slavik81 (1457219)
      There's a decent number of Wiis with poor disk drives. They became apparent when Smash Bros. Brawl released. It was a popular game and was on a dual-layered DVD, so it exposed latent problems many Wiis. There's also occasional defective video hardware. But all-in-all, the Wii seems to have had pretty low failure rates.
    • by grotgrot (451123)

      When SSBB came out it was the first dual layer disc. My Wii was one of those having disc reading issues. Nintendo replaced the drive at their expense very quickly and added some more time to the warranty (I was out of warranty by about 3 months). At no point did I feel it was my fault or that Nintendo didn't like me. There was a minor concern over save games etc should the whole unit need replacing (their webpages of the time basically said "bad luck"). You can copy some savegames to SD card, but some

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        At no point did I feel it was my fault or that Nintendo didn't like me. There was a minor concern over save games etc should the whole unit need replacing (their webpages of the time basically said "bad luck"). You can copy some savegames to SD card, but some prevent you which does make me angry. I only have 3 downloaded titles as I decided I wanted to own not rent them (ie I am only paying for stuff I can move to new systems at my choice.)

        Odd. If the Wii dies, Nintendo wants you to return it to them, and w

        • The "DRM keys" aren't transferable (well, actually, they are because their security sucks, but they're not supposed to be). They need to issue/sign new ones to your new console. Thing is, they've been known not to do that for some people, resulting in the loss of all Wii Points and Wii Shop content. They don't appear to be completely consistent in the way they deal with paid content during repairs.

          As far as save files, you're screwed if the console doesn't boot at all (read: nothing at all on the screen), m

    • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@nOsPam.marcansoft.com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:08PM (#29473835) Homepage

      The Wii has issues with what might also be poor soldering. On the Wii it causes pixel "snow" to appear, which is more prominent with some games than others. Mine started doing it and then spontaneously fixed itself. Others have had less luck.

      People tend to blame the WiiConnect24 idle mode for it ("yellow LED mode"). The WC24 power design of the Wii is extremely poor (that's why it's such a power hog in that mode, even though the main CPU is, in fact,off). The secondary ARM core used for WC24 stuff lives on the same die as the GPU ("Napa"), and my bet is there's a lot of leakage current and they probably don't turn off power to the GPU part. It also doesn't help that the idiots at BroadOn didn't use a wait-for-interrupt instruction in the IOS idle loop: that ARM chip is running at 100% CPU utilization even during the idlest of moments in WC24 mode (the idle thread spins around endlessly). Even though it's an ARM core, it's shoehorned into a (relatively) power-hungry GPU process and runs at 243Mhz (full time, due to the stupid software issue above), so my bet is it chews up quite a lot more power than your average cellphone ARM core. You can prove that pretty much all of the Wii is on in WC24 mode, minus the CPU: there is power going to the expansion ports (easily measured), the main power buses are on (IOS needs NAND flash and the GDDR3 RAM, among others), and even the video output hardware is on (bugs in homebrew have at times caused a video signal to remain present on the output after switching to WC24 mode).

      The fan is off in WC24 mode, so the end result is that the Hollywood chip gets quite warm for extended periods of time. People speculate that this causes the failures.

      • by Zero_DgZ (1047348)

        The fix to this is as simple as the fix preventing original NES power supplies from cooking themselves: Shut off your power strip when you're done with the console for the day.

  • 12 Months? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mistakill (965922) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:09PM (#29473595)
    12 Months doesnt apply in New Zealand either... an item must be of acceptable quality to last for its reasonable expected lifetime... a PS3 would be expected to live longer than 12 months
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      That's quite arguable. With the track record of consoles, I don't think it would be unreasonable to expect a console to die within 12 months. It would be stupid to spend so much money on something that would die so fast, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect it would die. Who get's to determine how long one should expect a product to last for? Should I expect a console to last for 20 years (my old Nintendo is still going strong), or should I expect it to die in 3 months (like the xBox 360 seems to
    • Re:12 Months? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Albanach (527650) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:31PM (#29473681) Homepage

      The Sale of Goods Act in the UK places the responsibility on the retailer, not Sony. It also allows the consumer to claim against the retailer for up to six years after purchase.

      Most retailers will claim against Sony and probably be reimbursed, as Sony want them to continue stocking their products. However, if the retailer you purchase from has gone under, you're out of luck.

      Still it's better than nothing, and a great deal better than anything that I'm aware of in the United States. For those in the UK - remember and keep your receipt!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Most retailers will claim against Sony and probably be reimbursed, as Sony want them to continue stocking their products. However, if the retailer you purchase from has gone under, you're out of luck.

        If you purchased your console with a credit card in the UK and the retailer has gone bust, the credit card company is liable under the Sale of Goods Act.

        As you can tell, we take consumer protection very seriously over here.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        Wait, so expensive items have an implicit warranty?

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      What's the "reasonable expected lifetime" of a product if a heavy handed moron sits and pounds on it for 16 hours a day with his cheeto-dust covered fingers?

    • Re:12 Months? (Score:4, Informative)

      by stimpleton (732392) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:45PM (#29473969)
      Yes, and in NZ the Case Law is based on a case a woman took about her washing machine where the motor failed after 2 years. In that decision the adjudicator ruled "A person should expect a washing machine to last 4 years without requiring significant repair".

      As a side note , a contract limiting this is against the law and instantly nullified. Making those "extended warranty" things pointless. A rort is a kind term.
  • by mrmeval (662166) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [lavemrm]> on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:12PM (#29473605) Journal

    I worked at an independent repair center that had the highest status you could get from Sony. We could extend any warranty for any reason and fax it to the president of Sony and they would approve it within 24 hours. This was before the console craze when Sony made excellent quality products. It's been a while but I think they were called 'prime' servicers and there were not many of them.

    That business is long gone due to the son of the owner embezzling enough money to collapse the business.

    I've checked and I don't see any mention of a prime servicer in this area anymore.

    I morn the lost of the "One and only" because it's made in a third world country now like everyone else.

  • Affected Models (Score:5, Interesting)

    by corychristison (951993) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:18PM (#29473629)

    The problem is mainly thought to affect the 60GB launch model

    This doesn't exactly help me much. First thing I did was replaced my hard drive when I bought it. It's now a 160GB PS3. (upgraded because I upgraded my laptop to a 320GB drive, and the 120GB drive was just sitting around)

    According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] there were two different 60GB models. One for North America and one for Europe.

    So which one is it? Europe? North America? Both? (note the article is from the BBC == Europe)

    • Re:Affected Models (Score:5, Informative)

      by fredc97 (963879) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:26PM (#29473663)

      I can confirm personally that the North American launch model is also affected by the YLOD issue, as I had my PS3 reflowed a month ago to cure its YLOD.

      Unfortunately as any victim can tell you with Sony's DRM you cannot switch models (to a slim for example) and restore a backup easily.

      Most savegames will transfer to a slim after a restore, all the downloadable content has to be fully redownloaded and anything related to Singstar needs a call placed to Sony's customer service in order to allow redownload to a new console.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442)

        I can confirm personally that the North American launch model is also affected by the YLOD issue, as I had my PS3 reflowed a month ago to cure its YLOD.

        No, you can confirm that your own personal PS3 broke. That's it. You cannot confirm that there's some systemic problem with launch US PS3's.

        I also have a launch PS3 and it's fine. Does that mean I can "confirm" that there's no YLOD problem with US PS3's?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by fredc97 (963879)

          If you would care to read about the YLOD, you would know better. My launch PS3 DID have a YLOD that was fixed with reflowing, so although I cannot confirm everyone in NA will be affected at one point, I do confirm the NA launch models have been affected.

          Remember Sony is publicly acknowledging 0.5% failure rate. Several third parties are fixing PS3 affected by the YLOD in NA. Blame it on hot weather this summer if you will or because ice cream sales are good.

          The funny part is that a quick search on google.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MojoStan (776183)

          No, you can confirm that your own personal PS3 broke. That's it. You cannot confirm that there's some systemic problem with launch US PS3's.

          Maybe not a confirmation, but after Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera mentioned that his 60GB PS3 died playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, he got responses from at least five others who also saw their PS3s die in similar fashion (Ben and Ars are based in the USA). He wrote a small article [arstechnica.com] about it.

          As Ben says, it's unscientific. They also had not heard of the term "Yellow Light of Death."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Iian Lee is the person behind these lies:

      http://tech.uk.msn.com/gaming/article.aspx?cp-documentid=7838134 [msn.com]

      He is a paid consultant for Microsoft.

      You know...the company with a 33, 55, 75 percent(take your pick) failure rate on their Xbox 360 console...

      "So which one is it?"

      None. There are no 'affected models'.

      This is a slanderous lie from a person who works for Microsoft as an attempt to do damage control over the RRoD hardware failure fiasco.

    • So which one is it? Europe? North America? Both? (note the article is from the BBC == Europe)

      I don't [youtube.com] know that [youtube.com]!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... and I have strong suspicions that this stunt was funded by Microsoft. It's a classic move out of their playbook - tear down the competition if you're getting bad press. Microsoft is getting TONS of bad press for the red ring of death, and they want their competition to be seen as unreliable, too.

    The numbers tell the truth, though - depending on which report you read, the XBox 360 has anywhere from 15% to 50% failure rates. The ones for the PS3 are about an order of magnitude less.

    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:50PM (#29473759)

      Well that pretty much demolishes this story. Straight from Sony's mouth:

      "SCEUK has run searches of its customer complaints/warranty database to identify the number of reports made to it regarding instances of system shutdown or failure in circumstances where the front panel yellow indicator is illuminated," added Maguire. "The results show that of all PS3s sold in the UK to date, fewer than one half of one per cent of units have been reported as failing in circumstances where the yellow indicator is illuminated."

      So where's the problem? Consumer electronics have a high failure rate. Certainly more than .5%

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is no problem.

        This is a concerted smear campaign by Microsoft to try to neutralize their broken console hardware. The scumbag behind these lies is Iian Lee. He is Microsoft contractor using the BBC program as part of a Microsoft PR effort to smear Sony and the PS3.

        Fucking pieces of shit Microsoft employees. Can't get a decent product out the door so they try to trash a competitors.

        Part of a wider campaign where suddenly when the RRoD fiasco started becoming public claimed to have had '5 PS2s die on th

  • RoHS strikes again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:41PM (#29473719) Journal
    Ahh, lead-free solder... is there any problem you can't cause. (Aside from lead poisoning, anyway)
    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      Next they need to make the case out of cardboard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rainbird98 (186939)

      You beat me to it! This is absolutely the problem and not just for the PS3. This lead-free solder problem as plagued most manufactures of electronics.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fallen Kell (165468)
        I agree. We see it with any and all high thermal density chips. The old leaded solder was a much better product in terms of operating lifespan and conditions. The only problem was that there was no required recycling of products which used it. If that was the case, there would have been no problem with it at all since the lead itself was trapped in the medium and not able to be absorbed by humans or animals who were in contact with it in that form. It was only after it was sitting in a landfill with rainwat
    • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:03PM (#29473819)

      Hence the industry push to move from BGA to CGA on high pinout packages for the greater robustness in handling thermal stress. That change alone would solve their problems.

  • by distantbody (852269) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:48PM (#29473751) Journal
    So from reading the title and skimming the summary I thought 'ooh, lots of faulty ps3's. Must be the new slim version. Guess I won't touch that then.'. But only 0.5% failure rate? And nothing to do with the slim? It seems to be a subtle slander piece. I wonder why the program producers would make it?

    I'm not a fanboy for the Xbox360 or the PS3 but the simple fact is that a high failure rate is so-far a feature exclusive to the Xbox360.

    P.S. There's a long 18 point reply in the comments from the Sony Computer Entertainment's UK Managing Director Ray Maguire.
  • by distantbody (852269) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:53PM (#29473771) Journal
    [This statement is currently in the public domain - 18 September 2009]

    Further to your recent correspondence with our PR agency and parent company, I am writing to respond to your queries in connection with the edition of Watchdog that is scheduled for broadcast on Thursday 17 September 2009. I should state at the outset that we are, of course, disappointed if a small number of our consumers appear to have experienced problems with their PlayStation 3 units outside the manufacturer's warranty period and we take our customer care obligations very seriously. It is for this reason that SCEUK operates a service of out of warranty repair or replacement (replacement with a refurbished unit within 48 hours at the consumer's convenience by courier). To be clear, this service is subsidised by SCEUK, there is no profit made by SCEUK on this service.

    You have informed us that this broadcast will include a report concerning faults alleged to affect PlayStation®3 consoles, and SCEUK's policy on out-of-warranty (OOW) repairs. Most importantly, we entirely refute the suggestion that PS3 consoles have an inherent defect or other design issue which is akin to any warranty issue experienced by another console manufacturer. SCEUK has sold 2.5 million consoles in the UK since March 2007 and stands by the quality of its products. Clearly the allegations you propose to air in your program might have the potential to adversely effect Sony Computer Entertainment's reputation for supplying high quality products and customer service and we take very seriously any issues that can impact the public's or our customers' confidence in those products.

    From the correspondence to date, I have serious concerns as to the accuracy of these allegations and the likely tone of the Watchdog report. The information that you have provided suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the technical issues and a mis-characterisation of SCEUK's OOW repairs policy. It is in all parties' interests that your reporting does not contain inaccurate or distorted information and the facts are presented in a manner which is not misleading or exaggerated. I trust the detailed information in this letter will enable the BBC to adopt a more balanced and sober approach to this issue than we have experienced to date.

    1. You have indicated that a number of viewers had contacted you to complain about a fault affecting their PS3 systems, whereby "a yellow light appears and their console then stops working - anecdotally called the 'yellow light of death'" (your email of 18 August 2009).

    2. You clarified in your letter of 25 August 2009 that the majority of those viewers had experienced problems with the 60GB launch model of the PS3. In that letter, you went on to say that, after examining three PS3 systems that had "displayed symptoms" of this fault, the consultancy Electronics Yorkshire noted the presence of higher levels of voids in soldering than would have been expected, in the case of two of those units. Your letter continued: "These voids can be problematic in some cases, but by no means in all cases. In some instances,... these voids can fracture at the inter-metallic interface... If this fracture was to occur on a vital connection, it would stop the console from working. [Electronics Yorkshire] is of the opinion that this problem [presumably: excessive voiding] has occurred during the manufacturing process and not as a result of consumer use or a thermal effect during use."

    3. Your letter went on to say that, in the opinion of three commercial repairers of PS3 systems, the supposed "'yellow light of death' fault is caused by a soldering issue".

    4. With respect, neither your letter of 25 August nor any other information you have provided (including the Electronics Yorkshire report) establishes that there is such a thing as a "'yellow light of death' fault". In this regard:

    The phrase "yellow light of death" has been adopted by certain members of the online community to describe the s
  • I did encounter an issue with my 60GB "launch" PS3 a while back, where the HDMI port seemed to die, no longer outputting any video. I did a Google search on it, and found a fair number of other people reporting the same issue. Some of them seemed to have success "reviving" their port by simply following the procedure to hard reset their PS3 (holding down the front power button for 10 seconds or so after turning the system off with the switch in back first, and then switching that back on) - but multiple a

  • WTF? (Score:4, Informative)

    by topham (32406) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:00PM (#29473801) Homepage

    With a failure rate considerably lower than Microsoft you are seriously going to harp on Sony? Really?
    Who wrote this, Microsoft?

  • Xbox 360 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:02PM (#29473811)
    The comparison is a little unwarranted... Xbox's failure rate was around 16.5%~33%. Having systems fail isn't a problem.... infact .5% is nicely below the industry standards. It is when you can get 5broken ones in a row that it becomes a problem...
  • Numbers Schmumbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:13PM (#29473843) Homepage

    What I have to go by is the fact that I personally know 5 people who had the XBox issue. I've never met anyone who said their PS3 bombed out. Maybe more people own the XBox. But my impression is that the 360 is not very reliable. That's the major why I bought a PS3 recently instead of an XBox. I could be wrong, but I went with my gut on it.

  • RoHS fault (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dorsai65 (804760) <dkmerriman@gmaCHICAGOil.com minus city> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:14PM (#29473847) Homepage Journal
    I suspect this is just another case of RoHS coming back to bite the electronics industry on the butt. I've used a number of the various lead-free solders, and it's bloody difficult to get a decent solder connection with them -- and even if you do, they still seem to get brittle/cold after some period of time. Too, there's the likelihood that the Chinese manufacturers cut a few corners to increase their profit margins, exacerbating the problem.
  • So you want me to put my PS3 in the oven at 400 degrees?
  • I bet it's the lead free solder. That's the big deal in electronics circles right now. It has a different melting point and has different characteristics. Gimme rosin core any day!

    And let us not talk about the experts on YouTube's Make channel who cold solder like crazy.
    • Ditto machines.

      Rosin-core solder.

      Fireworks (the UNsafe kind).

      The three greatest, most nostalgic smells ever. Period.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:06PM (#29474075) Homepage Journal
    The scuttlebutt I've heard is that the new Batman game is especially hard on old PS3s. It's a bigger problem than it would have been because the game is popular and good so a lot of people have been playing it heavily, ultimately to the demise of their PS3.
  • Folding@Home (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:34AM (#29474441)

    My 60GB PS3 (purchased in Jan 2007) recently folded its 1500th work unit. Unlike my Linux SMP folding box, which needs to be babysat constantly, the PS3 always uploads and downloads new work units without me having to do anything and has probably run F@H without a shutdown for a full month more than once. At an average of 6-8 hours per work unit, my PS3 has spent an awful lot of time at 100% CPU load. In contrast, I probably don't have more than 500 hours or so of disc usage time on it.

    If solder being overheated was the issue, I would figure heavy folders would be the first to run into the problem. I have heard that Stanford has had some PS3s folding 24-7 since the introduction of the PS3 folding client... I'd be curious to know if they've had any YLODs.

  • First, what's needed is a site that collates failure reports and includes unit serial numbers. Then you can get a handle on the problem. If you're seeing soldering failures, it's probably a process problem at the assembly plant. If the serial numbers cluster, there's a process variation failure. If they're randomly distributed, there may be a design problem. Process variation problems are usually easy to fix if you have the data. Well-run plants log all that data (far easier now than in the manual era

  • Hmm. Maybe the problem is that hardcore gamers break consoles? It just took them seven generations to get strong enough? ;^)

    --
    Toro

  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:41AM (#29474701) Homepage Journal

    ...almost continuously for two years. No problems.

  • Fair trading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WillKemp (1338605) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:45AM (#29474717) Homepage

    In the UK at least, the Sale of Goods Act would disagree with that statement.

    As would the fair trading laws in most (all?) Australian states and territories.

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