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3.40OE-A custom firmware released

So soon? Less than two days since the arrival of Sony's latest firmware upgrade, Dark_Alex has released a new custom firmware for homebrew users. 3.40OE-A brings the functionality of Sony's official release and opens it to the world of homebrew. Users must already have a homebrew-ready system to install 3.40OE-A. (PSP systems with new firmware, such as 3.00, will not be able to switch.)

Some improvements include a crucial patch that resolves a memory writing bug that has been plaguing recent releases of Dark_Alex's custom firmware. The potential for bricking has also been reduced. Download the latest update from Dark_Alex's website.

[Via DCEmu]

Custom firmware 3.30 OE-A now available

Homebrew users are celebrating today: custom firmware 3.30 OE-A is now available to the masses. As predicted, there are no major upgrades to be found in the latest revision of Dark_Alex's custom firmware. Those with homebrew-capable PSP systems will be able to install 3.30 OE-A, which enables both homebrew and legal PSP games to play on one machine.

Interested individuals can go to PSP Gen to download the upgrade file.

Accelerated PS1 loading not unique to OE firmware

Some homebrew users are getting excited at the possibility of running accelerated PS1 games on the upcoming 3.30 OE firmware. The option allows users to decrease the load times of their favorite PS1 classics. However, this is not a feature unique to custom firmware: it's available to all users of 3.30, official and otherwise. To enable it, start a PS1 game. Then, hit Home. Go to Settings, and you'll see "Disc-Load Speed."

The results will vary greatly, with some games not taking advantage of the feature at all. According to the PSP, "Depending on the software in use, the effect of this feature may not be noticeable or the software may not support fast disc-load speed." For example, we tested the feature using the PLAYSTATION Store's latest offering, Wipeout. In Normal mode, it took 10.3 seconds to load the menu and 18.5 seconds to load a track. However, in Fast mode, it took 9.9 seconds to load the menu and 18.4 seconds to load a track. Perennial favorite Destruction Derby took 14.2 seconds to load the game in Normal mode and 14.1 seconds in Fast mode. There are probably other games that will utilize the feature more efficiently, but the negligible differences we've seen so far have proven this is not cause for great celebration.

3.30 OE won't have new functionality; reprogramming necessary

Dark_Alex was debating whether or not to release an OE firmware with or without additional functionality. It looks like he chose the latter. Previous versions of Dark_Alex's homebrew-enabling firmware allowed users to watch full-resolution movies, remove region-encoding, and overclock their systems. The upcoming OE version of 3.30 will not feature any additional upgrades, because it appears that a major reprogramming is necessary for the increasingly unstable code. PSP Spot translates a forum post by the coder:

"3.30 OE at first will not have any innovation except the fact of being 3.30. It will take time due to problems with the hardware. Right now the priority for the future is to radically change the core of OE, to eliminate the instability of the programming (that is especially evident in 3.10) and to gain some more space for the ram. But this probably will take several versions before it is finishing, due to the complexness of the process."

While homebrew users wait for the "next big thing," will Sony be able to provide a truly worthwhile feature in their upcoming official releases? Free wi-fi was just one step in this continuous battle between Sony and the homebrew community.

[Via PSP-Vault]

[Update: DCEmu reports that Dark_Alex may have broken his PSP. Whoops--he's purchased a new one and is going to continue working soon.]

To release 3.30 OE or not to release 3.30 OE

Ever since firmware 3.30 was decrypted, many fans have been wondering: when will a new version of Dark_Alex's custom OE firmware come out? OE firmware typically contains all of the functionality of Sony's official firmware, but with a few additional perks. Obviously, the ability to run homebrew is a must. However, previous renditions of the OE firmware have included the ability to play full-resolution video and play ISO files (regardless of legality).
3.30 OE may not be as fully-featured as previous editions of the custom firmware. It appears that if Dark_Alex's team prepares the OE within the next 72 hours, it will be void of any extra functionality. Working on a more fully featured release will take a longer time--but the team notes that they are running the risk of running out of internal flash memory if the firmware becomes too large.

So, the homebrew coders are asking: to release 3.30 OE or not to release 3.30 OE? Some may want it now, but others may want a better version in time. We believe that, because 3.30 isn't supported by any retail games yet, that the team take their time to make a stronger, more feature-loaded firmware.

[Via DCEmu]

Does custom firmware break Ratchet & Clank?

One of our readers, Brian, shot us an e-mail, telling us: "I am running 3.10 OE firmware and cannot get Ratchet and Clank to run on it." That's strange, isn't it? Dark_Alex's open edition firmwares are supposed to combine the functionality of Sony's official releases with additional homebrew capabilities.

However, it seems like Brian is not alone in experiencing glitches in R&C on a OE-enabled PSP. Lucian04, from the IGN Boards, noticed a plethora of problems that simply isn't making the game fun: "Well I tried lowering the clock speed to default and tried everything up to 333mhz. The game for some reason wont run on my PSP unless I'm at 333mhz. The disc spins for a minute and then just stops. As for trying to get online, the wifi light never comes on and it never asks me to choose my network connection or anything. It just freezes @ the Ad-hoc/infra select screen"

Some are suggesting to take out the Memory Stick before the game loads. Others are pointing out that the game may be glitchy, even on regular firmware editions. I've only played this game on a standard 3.11 PSP, and experienced no glitches while writing my review. How about the rest of you?

3.03 OE-B firmware unlocks full-res video

Dark_Alex's "Open Edition" firmware has all of the functionality of Sony's official 3.03 firmware ... and then some. Previous versions of this homebrew-friendly firmware allowed for playing back illegal copies of ISO files. While we don't support such piracy at PSP Fanboy, we do have to commend Dark_Alex and the latest revision of his hacked firmware: it plays back full resolution (480x270) AVC video, something Sony has been very reluctant to support (with P-TV being one key exception).

If you're running a homebrew-capable PSP, you may want to consider upgrading to this hacked firmware. Downgraders are available for PSPs, firmware 2.71 and below, for those of you interested in downgrading, and then upgrading to this hack. I personally hope that Sony realizes that this is a major blow, and seriously considers officially unlocking the PSP's video capabilities in a future firmware upgrade. Until then, one of my PSPs will be running 3.03 OE-B.

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