3.5″ drive bay for the PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2 back showing Expansion Bay on SCPH-30001
The PlayStation 2 Expansion Bay is a 3.5″ drive bay introduced with the model 30000 and 50000 PlayStation 2 (replacing the PCMCIA slot used in the models 10000, 15000 and 18000, and removed with the slimline model 70000) designed for the network adaptor and internal hard disk drive (HDD). These peripherals enhance the capabilities of the PS2 to allow online play and other features that were shown at E3 2001.
A PS2 Network Adaptor shown by itself (top) and inserted to a console (bottom)
The Network Adaptor was released together with the launch of the PlayStation 2’s online play service. Two models of the adaptor were available – one with a dial-up modem and an Ethernet jack for broadband Internet connection (mainly sold in North America), and one with only an Ethernet interface (sold in Europe and other regions). A start-up disc (“Network Access Disc”) is included with the Network Adaptor and installs a file on the memory card for connection settings which are accessible by all but one Network Adaptor compatible game. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, released in November 2001, supported the Network Adapter hardware, but not the software as it was not finalized until much later.
The Network Adaptor also provides a Parallel ATA interface and a Molex disk drive power connector to allow installation of a 3.5″ IDE hard disk drive in the expansion bay. As the two disk connectors are on separate circuit boards from the main Network Adaptor one, third party connector replacements including a SATA connector and SATA to IDE converter are available.
Slimline PlayStation 2 models have an Ethernet port built-in (with some early North American models including an analog dial-up modem), but no official hard disk drive interface. The first slimline model (SCPH-70000) has a complete Network Adapter onboard, and may be modified to add an external IDE connector board. From the SCPH-75000 series onwards, Ethernet functionality was integrated into the I/O processor (which was completely redesigned internally), completely removing the disk interface.
The maximum supported rate of the Network Adapter is 100Mbit/s, at full duplex. It is also backwards compatible with 10Mbit/s hardware and configurations.
Hard Disk Drive
PlayStation HDD and Network Adapter
The PlayStation 2 Hard Disk Drive (PS2 HDD) was released on July 19, 2001, in Japan (together with the Network Adaptor) and on March 23, 2004, in North America. It requires the Network Adaptor to connect to the PlayStation 2 and to receive power. The HDD has a 40 GB capacity that can be used by games to reduce load time by putting data on the hard drive temporarily, or back up memory card data. Due to MagicGate copyright protection, programs that are bootable directly from the HDD (e.g. PlayStation Broadband Navigator, PlayOnline Viewer, Pop’n Music Puzzle-dama Online) are keyed to the system when that system installs them. The HDD can be transferred to another PlayStation 2 system and files on the HDD can be accessed, but those specific programs cannot be booted without being reinstalled. Contrary to popular belief, a complete reformat of the HDD is not necessary upon transfer of the HDD between consoles, or else it would not be useful to have the HDD be preformatted and have preinstalled software, as is the case with the North American HDD unit. An HDD Utility Disc is included to allow maintenance of the HDD (including defragmentation, disk repair and formatting utilities, along with a file manager browser) and in North America, Final Fantasy XI is also included. There are 35 North American games that support the HDD.
Maxtor and Seagate Technology produced hard drives used in these kits.
Unofficial software called HD Loader (later HD Advance and also Open PS2 Loader) allow users to copy entire games to the HDD and run them without the discs. They also allow using some standard consumer hard drives in the PS2, however they will not be compatible with software that is expecting the standard PS2 hard drive. This software combined with a hard drive allows one to play games without using the original disc. This is desirable as it protects the fragile and perhaps rare game discs from harm, in some cases it may improve performance.
This practice is not without controversy, however. HD Loader bypasses the usual copy protection mechanisms built into the console, which allowed for piracy.
North American releases with HDD support
^† 2K sports titles up to the 2K9 versions (except College Hoops, where it only applies to 2K6, 2K7 and 2K8 versions since there is no 2K9), also use the HDD to display recorded replays from game action. Without it, stills are shown in NBA games (during halftime and the end of the game) and no end-of-inning replays are shown in MLB.
The Final Fantasy XI game that came bundled with the 40GB hard drive that required the Network Adaptor
Japanese releases with HDD support
The Linux Kit for PlayStation 2 was released in 2002 and included the PlayStation 2 Linux software, keyboard, mouse, VGA adapter (which requires an RGB monitor that supports sync-on-green signals), Network Adaptor (Ethernet only) and a 40 GB hard disk drive. It allows the PlayStation 2 to be used as a personal computer.
Hacking and Modding
As of mid 2010, it is possible to install and use the PlayStation BB Navigator (PS-BBN) and the HDD-OSD (HDD Utility-Disc) on every PlayStation 2 Console from every region. This can be achieved with the use of special “patched” files for the HDD-OSD, PS-BBN, and a modified version of “uLaunch” (a well known piece of PlayStation 2 homebrew software) called “hacked-ule”. It is now also possible to install homebrew software to the HDD and make it launchable through the HDD-OSD and PS-BBN’s “Game-Channel”, just like any other official HDD game. However, installing such homebrew software to the HDD still requires much work in a Hex-Editor. PS-BBN can now also be fully translated into any given language; the translation process involves the use of the “Beta-linux” release for PlayStation 2 and a specially compiled kernel which gives access to the “APA-ReiserFS” partitions.
As of 2013, most (if not all) games that use the HDD to install data (to decrease load time) and/or to save/load (instead of using a Memory Card) can be used on any PlayStation 2 console from any region and on any HDD by using a Hex-Editor (or ATADPatcher v0.02) and some type of booting software “ESR” (a well known piece of homebrew software for the PS2). If a “patched” copy of HDD-OSD and/or PlayStation BB Navigator (PS-BBN) is used, users can see all the data currently installed in the same way as with the official “SONY 40 GB HDD” (SCPH-20401).
Outside of video gaming, the expansion bay of the PlayStation 2 has been referred to in popular culture as a “stash spot” for hiding marijuana or other illicit substances, due to the unassuming nature of the hard drive bay.
- ^ Zettai Zetsumei Toshi instruction manual, page 12.