Long-Awaited PlayStation “PSIO” Device By Cybdyn Systems Enters The Beta Testing Stage
For the past two and a half years, Retro Game Network had been keeping an eye open on an upcoming device called the “PSIO”, which will allow you to play games published on the original Sony PlayStation on faster and more reliable SD memory cards as opposed to the original CD-ROM discs that were native to the system. While we may have fallen behind on it’s progress with our last update on the device being just over one year ago, the word is now out that the device is still on the road to creation, and is finally being beta tested by supporters.
The “PSIO” (short for “PlayStation Input/Output”) is a cartridge that plugs into the back of your original Sony PlayStation 1 that will let you play your backed up copies of games from a now standard SD card, using the parallel port in the back of the PlayStation. While it can certainly be used to play such backups, it’s intent for release is mostly for the benefit of homebrew game developers, for it will also allow you to boot and run code that you have personally programmed and compiled, that has been saved to an SD card, on original Sony equipment, making it a must have tool for game developers. While attaching the PSIO to your system will allow you to play PS1 games using SD card media, it actually works alongside with the CD drive, as opposed to completely replacing it like other CD-ROM based console flashcards have done previously. This will permit you to keep your PS1 functioning as normal, using original discs, alongside of having the flash based alternative.
This alternative system was originally conceived back in 2010, and was originally slated to use a standard platter-style hard drive for it’s storage, however that idea was later scrapped to use the more convenient SD flash memory platform. Those of you that have a “SCPH-900x” series PlayStation or the remodeled “PSone” will notice a concern with the device. As previously noted, the PSIO takes advantage of the parallel port that only the original model PS1’s offered. Because the previously said models did not offer a parallel port, a special version is also in development for these editions of the console, in which the parallel I/O header connector will not be included on the circuit board. However in order to use this, the gamer will need to do a little bit of soldering work, manually soldering it directly to the PS1 motherboard.
However, regardless of whether or not you have an original model PS1 or not, this new phase of testing brought up a new issue, in which anyone that is interested in the device will have to take into consideration. Upon further testing, it was discovered that a modification by the user will be required no matter what. A switchboard has to be soldered onto the main motherboard of the PlayStation, as well as have a few small cuts be made as well. But fret not: Pre-modified board and complete modified consoles are slated to be available when finally released. (A video showing this procedure has been uploaded, and can be seen below.)
Some of the features of “PSIO” include not only being able to play single disc games, but also having the ability to support games that spanned multiple discs, such as Final Fantasy IX which took up 4 discs. In addition, the ability to save your game’s progress is also planned to be incorporated, meaning that no memory cards will be required. Add to than a built-in cheat system, hexadecimal editor, plus being able to listen to your favorite music with the device, in a format other than MP3 due to the PS1’s limitations. It will also offer a standard USB port for a direct connection between your PlayStation and your home computer, which is said to be used as a way of assisting homebrew game developers and curiosity programmers with their own game creations, if they so desire.
The team that is behind the PSIO, Cybdyn Systems, has recently started to ship units to be beta tested. During this phase, supporters of the PSIO over the last 2 1/2 years have also been given the green light to share any footage or personal thoughts about the device to the general public. Two videos have since been released on YouTube that show the device in action. One of the videos shows a side by side comparison of loading Gran Turismo, with both the PSIO option as well as using the traditional CD-ROM disc, and the time saved in loading is nothing short of remarkable.
While the device is still in the beta testing stage, it is still planned to be sold for $149 Australian ($105 US). This is more than likely the cost of the device itself, and if you choose to have a pre-modified board or complete modified console, the price will more than likely be higher. While a release date has not yet been announced, their website states that it would be available when the beta testing is 100% completed.