There has been a large amount of debate over backwards compatibility on the PS3, which seems to flare up every time a new version of the system is released.

With the holiday season coming to an end, many new owners might be wondering whether their new Fall 2010 models can play PSOne and PS2 games.

This article will explain the capabilities of the new 160GB and 320GB systems, which have the model numbers CECH-2501A and CECH-2501B, respectively. I will also give a brief explanation of what the earlier versions did, which was always a source of confusion.

Solid Statement: These 2 new model numbers will play PSOne games, but no longer support PS2 games due to the removal of the Graphics Synthesizer chip.

The new model numbers

The 2 new systems were released for Fall 2010 and cover the holiday shopping season, offering 6 exclusive PS3 bundles to be sold on Black Friday (all in the CECH-2501A 160GB version). The 320GB model CECH-2501B is packaged with the Playstation Move bundle only.

PS3 160GB and 320GB

CECH-2501A and CECH-2501B

Aside from the larger hard drive sizes, these PS3 systems no longer carry the physical chip that allowed earlier versions to play many PS2 titles. The GS chip, or Graphics Synthesizer, was responsible for providing geometry calculations and polygon rendering for the Playstation 2. You can read below to see which versions carry the GS chip.

Bundles containing the new model

The CECH-2501A 160GB system was sold as a holiday bundle in 6 different varieties from Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, GameStop, and Target. Each version came bundled with bonuses like games, Blu-ray movies, remote, or second controller.

PS3 2010 Holiday Bundles

CECH-2501A Bundles for 2010

Backwards Compatibility

As stated above, both CECH-2501A and CECH-2501B play PSOne games. However, since the PS2′s Graphics Synthesizer chip has been removed, you can no longer play your PS2 games on either PS3 system.

Do not be fooled by the fact that your new PS3 allows you to format space for both PSOne and PS2 memory cards. It doesn’t mean anything. Only 3 previous models allowed for PS2 backwards compatibilty. These 3 have all been phased out of production.

The 80GB CECHE01 was the last model number to offer PS2 backwards compatibility. This version had the physical GS chip and emulated the PS2 CPU, known as “Emotion Engine.”

The 20GB model CECHB01 and 60GB CECHA01 were the other 2 systems that supported PS2 games. Both had the GS chip like the 80GB version, but these earlier models also had an actual Emotion Engine processor. These earlier models did the best job with PS2 games, as the emulated CPU of the 80GB system couldn’t handle certain PS2 games.

Solid Tip: You could always identify the PS2 backwards compatible systems because they had 4 USB ports.

Conclusions

Go rummage through some old boxes and find your copy of Final Fantasy VII or maybe Metal Gear Solid and enjoy some PSOne time. Just remember to hit the home button on the controller and turn on smoothing, because your HD flat screen is not very forgiving on those 15 year old graphics.

If you really want to play old PS2 games, you probably already own a PS2. If so, don’t get rid of it or pass it down to younger relatives.

If you don’t have a PS2 console, you can still get them brand new for under $100 with free shipping.