21 April 2002:
In my opinion the Messiah is the best chip for your PS2 at present. One day I will get around to updating this page but things are changing pretty quick these days with new chips and solutions being released but most still require the use of the Action Replay 2 system.
Below is a synopsis of the current state of play and it looks very good. I have also included a table of the features that the two main solutions offer. The NEO2.2 solution is now history......
The 2 main contenders in the PS2 Modchip battle are the 'Messiah' solution by Channel Technology and the 'NEO4' solution by NEO Technologies. Both solutions now do not require the use of Action Replay 2/DVD Region X/MegaMem systems and will now allow direct booting of all formats (in most cases - see my comparison table). And incidentally both companies are British.
Messiah: Channel Technology, are about to start beta testing on the 20 November 2001 when the PCB's arrive from the manufacture/assembler in Asia. The initial beta testing will be carried out with the UK versions of the PS2. The Messiah Hardware/Software engineers stated it should only take about two hours per region to convert the code across for the other regions. So if all goes well you should except to see the Messiah released for other regions approx two weeks once the UK beta testing has been okayed.
The Messiah PCB's will be fully assembled just requiring the Messiah team to plug the PCB into a special programmer and bingo a Messiah Mod. The Messiah PCB will have dimensions of approx 45mm x 22mm x 2.8mm with the main processor being based on a FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) device in a FBGA (Fine pitch Ball Grid Array) package. This FBGA package only measures 10.1mm x 10.1 mm, about the size of a average fingernail and has 144 pins (well not quite pins - blobs of solder the device is held in place on the PCB with a little glue the baked in a oven to fuse the device to the PCB). This is why it is necessary for it to be manufactured and assembled in a factory with the proper facilities. The PCB has 26 solder pads of which only 23 pads are used by the installer, rest being spare. The additional set of connectors is provide for the Messiah Mod to be programmed by the developers in. If the messiah team are happy with the Messiah Mod and is selling in good numbers, they may move it from a FPGA device to a ASIC (Application-Specific Intergrated Circuit) device which will reduce manufacturing costs and benefit the end user.
The Messiah Mod PCB and components
Shown approx size 44mmx22mmx2.8mm if view at 800x600 screen
The Messiah Mod was going to be released in two versions the Lite and the Full, this has been dropped. It is now going to be released as a Version 1 and a Version 2, both versions will have the complete set of Messiah 100% non swap and DVD features as per the table below with the only difference being with the installation. The Messiah ver 1 Mod will be supply as a Preprogrammed Messiah PCB, in which you have to solder 23 wires from the Messiah PCB to the mainboard on your PS2. This will only be for people who are very competent at soldering as it will require soldering wires onto the BIOS chip and will only be available in the first release of the Messiah Mod. The Messiah ver 2 Mod will be supplied in two parts, the Preprogrammed Messiah PCB and a Flexiconnector (aka Carcass). The Messiah PCB for this version is the same as the version 1 and the Flexiconnector is a wiring harness that will ease the installation of the Messiah. It will be a matter of just simply placing the Flexiconnector over the BIOS chip and basically running you soldering iron across the Flexiconnector and pins on the BIOS chip and a few other points and run a few wires to the mainboard. The design for flexiconnector part is not been finalised, with several alternative options being looked at. Installation documentation and diagrams will be released once chip has been released. I will hopefully have a photo or two once these are released on beta testing.
NEO4: NEO Technologies, the people behind the NEO2.x family of Modchip have released their NEO4 solution over the last few weeks, with it slowly filter outside of the UK. The Australasian (www.ozchips.com.au) distributor has gone on holiday until the end of November so I have no idea when the NEO4 is going to be shipped to the New Zealand resellers. This solution seems to have received good reviews from what I have read. They are about to release a new NEO4.1 version of this solution, for the new SCPH 3000xR models. This due the the SCPH 3000xR model defeating the DVD multizone movie playback when using a NEO4 chip.
There are a couple problems with the NEO4 whether they are minor or major ones depends on your gaming requirements. The main one is it's in-ability to load original imports (Japan/USA). This is to be sorted out with the release of a Import Player add-on chip in a few months for an extra NZ$50.00/£15. It will not direct load DVDR's games, these have to be loaded by using an original DVD Rom game then swapping the DVD with the DVDR, and with DVDRom games becoming more common and DVDR writers starting to move into the mainstream market (rather expensive - but then so where CDR writers a few years ago) it would be a nice feature - to direct load.
I will not be supplying the NEO4, as there are already two dealers in New Zealand. I do not know what the official release date for the NEO4 in New Zealand is. If people wish me to install their NEO4's then I can do this for you if required. Looking at the diagrams it is a pretty straight forward install with 44 wire to be soldered, a capacitor to be removed and finally a track on the PCB to be cut. The installation should not present any problems for a someone who is competent with a soldering iron and working with hardware at this level - allow 1-3 for the installation depend on your skills and tools. Neo Technologies will be releasing a 'Neo Clip' (After spending NZ$100,000.00/£30,000.00 on it's design and manufacture) later this year which will ease installation and reduce the wire count down by a considerable amount.
The pricing being quoted by the two dealers/resellers are: One is charging $240 for NEO4 only and $375 NEO4/Installation and the other one is charging $195 NEO4 only and $290 NEO4/Installation.
Origa: Just a quick word on this chip. This solution will only load Original Imports only not CDR's, DVDR's or Silvers The people behind this now have a working solution for the PAL and USA PS2's to allow you to play Original Imports, but the soldering points are beyond most peoples capabilities and will be a major cause for damaging your PS2.
I have created the comparison table below listing and comparing the features of the Messiah and NEO4 solutions only, as these two have more features and are DIY friendly compared to the ORIGA solution.
Word of Warning: I highly recommend that you do not rush out and get the first solution available. Wait and see what the other solution/s offer, any problems that the solutions may have and give things a chance to settle down. You are going to have to part with a nice sum of money for your solution and installation and you will want to ensure that you have spent your money on the best solution. It is a whole different world to the PSX/PSone family of chips.
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