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PlayStation (Games) Sony Games

The PS3's "Yellow Light of Death" 292

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 @10:05PM (#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 mrmeval ( 662166 ) < minus math_god> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:12PM (#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 @10:18PM (#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 [] 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)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:19PM (#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 Slavik81 ( 1457219 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:24PM (#29473653)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:25PM (#29473655)

    ... 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 @10:46PM (#29473735)

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

  • by distantbody ( 852269 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:48PM (#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 wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:03PM (#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.

  • Numbers Schmumbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:13PM (#29473843)

    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.

  • by c_forq ( 924234 ) <> on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:15PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:18PM (#29473859)

    My yellow light of death was caused by fan failure rather than solder issues. Considering how hard that fan has to run (as if it's cooling the LHC, I have a launch console) I'm surprised the failure rate is only 0.5%.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:24PM (#29473873)

    Iian Lee is the person behind these lies: []

    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.

  • by fizzding ( 1171839 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:28PM (#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.

  • by Merls the Sneaky ( 1031058 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:42PM (#29473957)

    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 Tyrion Moath ( 817397 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @11:45PM (#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.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:06AM (#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.
  • by Zero_DgZ ( 1047348 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:13AM (#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.

  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7.kc@rr@com> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:13AM (#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.

  • Folding@Home (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:34AM (#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.

  • Re:Affected Models (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fredc97 ( 963879 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:56AM (#29474517)

    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 turns up 6500 hits for YLOD while on turns up 7600 hits. Considering Canada is half the population of the UK one could assume some Canadians seem interested by this subject.

    Oh and yes if you care, Squaretrade has a recent study and found PS3 to have 10% failure rates after 2 years, read the PDF here: []

    The XBOX gets 23.7% defects after 2 years.

  • by greg_barton ( 5551 ) * <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:41AM (#29474701) Homepage Journal

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

  • Fair trading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WillKemp ( 1338605 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:45AM (#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.

  • Re:12 Months? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:07AM (#29475167)

    Wait, so expensive items have an implicit warranty?

    No, ALL items have an implicit warranty. Take for example a TV. Doesn't matter if it is a budget or a top brand - its expected to last 5 years or so.

    The only problem with SOGA is that consumers tend not to know their rights so shops get away with illegally stating its not their responsibility after 28 days and to take it up with the manager. I recently even had a shop manager state 28 days as company policy and it was only when I took in a printout of the law that they realised they were wrong. You could tell from the look on her face that she'd realised she had been screwed herself quite recently.

  • Re:12 Months? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrScotsman ( 857078 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @06:31AM (#29475429)

    That's because it's not true.

    The EU Directive you speak of has got to be one of the most misquoted things ever. For a start, the EU Directive is a directive, the member states have to incorporate it into their own laws - it's not an actual law itself. All it states is that any limitation period for seeking damages is minimum 2 years, it nowhere states that goods have to last 2 years (although I'd love it if you could prove me wrong). The Sale of Goods act says goods have to last a "reasonable length of time", and the limitation is 6 years. As such, the Sale of Goods act is the UK's way of satisfying that part of the directive.

    Also think about what you're saying, "all consumer goods" have to last 2 years? Do you really think you have a recourse if your value-range ballpoint pen breaks after a month?

  • Yes. Blame RoHS (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:24AM (#29475745)
    Don't dismiss this parent. Yes, the problem really is RoHS.
    Everyone is shifting to lead-free solder because of the European RoHS requirements, and the lead-free solder is crap. It cracks easier when the device is dropped (hand held devices, not your PS3). There are imperfections in all RoHS solder connections that don't occur with the leaded ones.
    The melting point of tin/lead (183) solder is about 35 degrees Celcius lower than tin/silver/copper (217) solder, so I don't understand the solder melting issue.
    More info: RoHS in military []
  • by MeatBag PussRocket ( 1475317 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:42PM (#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.

  • by Stone316 ( 629009 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:12PM (#29477955) Journal

    Seriously, which ones... Not being a troll.. I have a Wii but I haven't found any games that I have really enjoyed playing after a few days. My kids love the thing.

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two. -- Seneca