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PlayStation 2 Expansion Bay on SCPH-30000
Alt text
The Whole NTSC-U/C HDD-Set, Contains: HDD, HDD Utility Disc, Final-Fantasy XI + Addon + Tetra Master + Play Online Software, Installation Manuals.

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 no longer present as of the 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 and were shown at 2001.

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Network Adaptor

Network Adapter for PlayStation 2

The Network Adaptor was released on July 19, 2001 in Japan (together with the Hard disk drive) , in August 2002 in North America and in June 2003 in Europe. Two models were available - one with a dial-up modem and an Ethernet (RJ-45) jack for broadband Internet connection (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 was released in November 2001 and supported the Network Adaptor 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.

The Slim-line range of the PS2 has an Ethernet jack built-in, but no hard disk drive interface.

Hard disk drive

PlayStation BB Unit, 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 (ex. 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 and in North America, Final Fantasy XI is also included. Currently, there are 29 North American games that support the HDD.

Unofficial software called HD Loader and the newer HD Advance allow users to copy entire games to the HDD and run them without the discs. These pieces of software also allow you to use some standard HDDs in the PS2, however they will not be seen in the browser, or work with games using the HDD. While some argue that this improves performance and protects the potentially fragile discs, especially from young children, others claim that this only encourages piracy as rented games can be copied and kept forever (see rental piracy).

As of December 2004, it is widely believed that Sony is no longer interested in supporting the hard drive. The new slimline model of PlayStation 2, which replaced the older, larger model in November 2004, is not capable of using the hard drive and while Sony has stated they are investigating alternatives, it is thought that none will be forthcoming due to the relatively late date in the product's lifecycle. The absence of support for the HDD in the slimline PS2 also means that Final Fantasy XI can only be played on older PlayStation 2s. Sony's public response at the time of the introduction of the slimline PS2 (in mid-2004) was that "the more hardcore [HDD-interested] gamers...already have their PlayStation 2 units," according to a company statement.

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North American Releases with HDD Support

  • Final Fantasy XI is the only North American game truly dependent on the HDD as it requires various patches and upgrades from Square Enix.
  • SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs supports additional maps, downloadable via the in game "Socom Store" used to be $5.99 until the third pack was released late March 2008; now all three are free.
  • SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs supports additional maps, however the files must be copied from a magazine demo disc to the hard drive and cannot be downloaded.
  • SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault supports additional maps.
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak (Both File #1 and File #2) installs 1 GB to the HDD for reduced loading times.
  • ESPN NFL 2K5, ESPN NBA 2K5, ESPN College Hoops 2K5, ESPN MLB 2K5, and ESPN NHL 2K5 use the HDD to improve replays. (If the HDD is not installed, static screenshots are shown as replays. With the HDD, full cutscene-like replays can be displayed). ESPN NHL 2K5 has the ability to save files directly to the hard drive.
  • RPG Maker 3 installs 3 GB to the HDD to decrease load time.
  • 2K Sports's NBA 2K6, MLB 2K6, NHL 2K6, College Hoops 2K6, and their respected updates; up to the 2K9 versions (only until 2K8 for College Hoops), also use the HDD to display recorded replays from game action. Without it, stills are shown in NBA 2K6 (during halftime and the end of the game) and no end-of-inning replays are shown in Major League Baseball 2K6.
  • Metal Saga installs 1,7GB to the HDD to decrease load time and uses the HDD to save/load game instead of Memory Card
  • Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, like its Japanese counterpart, can install 2 GB to the HDD to reduce loading time.
  • The Urbz: Sims in the City recognizes when the HDD is installed and allows data to be saved directly to it. Also creates a 512mb "_tmp" (if not already there) Partition to cache Game Files to speed up load times.
  • The Sims 2 recognizes when the HDD is installed and allows data to be saved directly to it. Also creates a 512mb "_tmp" (if not already there) Partition to cache Game Files to speed up load times.

Japanese Releases with HDD Support

  • Final Fantasy X (and Final Fantasy X International) installs a 1,664 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times
  • Kingdom Hearts (and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix) installs a 1,280 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Xenosaga Episode 1 installs a 1,792 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times. It allows the game to be saved to and loaded from the HDD instead of a Memory Card.
  • PlayOnline Viewer fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated, currently using 1 gigabyte. It is used to boot Final Fantasy XI, Front Mission Online, Tetra Master, and JongHowLo.
  • Tetra Master fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated, currently using 128 megabytes. It comes with Final Fantasy XI.
  • JongHowLo fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated, currently using 256 megabytes. It comes with Final Fantasy XI.
  • Final Fantasy XI (and the Rise of the Zilart, Chains of Promathia, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, and Wings of the Goddess expansions) fully installs to the HDD so that it can be patched/updated. Uses 8,192 megabytes, with both expansions installed, as of March 7th, 2005 (Note: This does not include the Treasures of Aht Urgahn and Wings of the Goddess expansions as they were released after).
  • Unlimited Saga installs a 3,072 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Energy Airforce Allows playback of music that is stored on the HDD while playing the game instead of listening to the music that is built into the game. (requires PlayStation Broadband Navigator 0.20 or higher)
  • 3D Fighting School 2 allows the game to be saved to and loaded from the HDD instead of a Memory Card.
  • Dark Chronicle (aka Dark Cloud 2) installs a 1,536 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times. The Asia version also supports the HDD (most Asia versions of games have HDD support removed).]
  • Bomberman Kart, has downloadable content with new tracks to install on HDD.
  • Capcom vs. SNK 2 installs to the HDD to reduce load times and allows the game to be saved to and loaded from the HDD instead of a Memory Card.
  • Zettai Zetsumai Toshi (aka Disaster Report) installs to the HDD to reduce load times and allows the game to be saved to and loaded from the HDD instead of a Memory Card.
  • Soul Calibur II installs to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (and the Director's Cut) installs to the HDD to reduce load times. Installation also reduces occurrences of a game crashing glitch that is known to happen on the first batch of discs when played on model 1x000 PS2s.
  • Pop'n Taisen Puzzle-dama Online Installation to the HDD is required to play. The game boots from PSBBN or HDD Utility Disc and does not require the disc or a registration code, making it a very unusual case of HDD support, as it has no anti-piracy protection to prevent the disc from being passed around in a group of people.
  • DJ Box Sony Computer Entertainment's MP3 DJ mixing program requires the hard drive for MP3 storage. Also you can save your own DJ mixes that you make with the game to the hard drive.
  • Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII requires the hard drive for online play. The game uses Square-Enix's PlayOnline service, which needs the hard drive so you can install the online interface.
  • Romancing SaGa Minstrel's Song installs a 5,120 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Shin Sangoku Musou 3 installs a 512 megabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Shin Sangoku Musou 3 Moushouden installs a 1 gigabyte file to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Street Fighter ZERO Fighter's Generation installs a 2 gigabyte file to the HDD to reduce loading time.
  • Guitar Freaks 4th Mix & DrumMania 3rd Mix installs to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Beatmania IIDX 5th Style can cache song files to the HDD to reduce load times. In addition, using HDD caching will enable a bonus gameplay mode.
  • Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings installs 128mb to fast up the game, so it no longer "Freezes" in game to load the needed data from the Game CD-ROM.
  • Musou Orochi Maou Sairin installs 1GB to speed up load times.
  • Winning Eleven 6: Final Evolution installs 512mb to speed up load times.
  • Winning Eleven 7 installs to the HDD to speed up load times.
  • Winning Eleven 8: Liveware Evolution installs 1GB to speed up load times.
  • Gundam Musou Special installs 512mb to speed up load times.
  • Gundam Musou 2 installs 512mb to speed up load times
  • Shin Sangoku Musou 5 Special installs 512mb to speed up load times.
  • Let's Bravo Music Let you download extra Music/Adventures to the Hdd.
  • G1 Jockey 4 2007 & Winning Post 7 2007 Installs each 1GB to speedup load times.
  • TVware the whole TVware series uses the hdd
  • A Ressha de Gyoukou 2001 Perfect Set (A-Train 2001 + Train-Pack) installs 256mb to the hdd, and the Train-Pack installs additional 14mb.
  • Ace Combat 4 installs 1gb to speed up load times.
  • The Urbz: Sims in the City recognizes when the HDD is installed and allows data to be saved directly to it. Also creates a 512mb "_tmp" (if not already there) Partition to cache Game Files to speed up load times.
  • The Sims 2 recognizes when the HDD is installed and allows data to be saved directly to it. Also creates a 512mb "_tmp" (if not already there) Partition to cache Game Files to speed up load times.
  • Metal Saga installs 1,7GB to the HDD to decrease load time and uses the HDD to save/load game instead of Memory Card.
  • Biohazard: Outbreak (Both File #1 and File #2) installs 1 GB to the HDD for reduced loading times.
  • G1 Jockey 4 2008 installs 1GB to speed up load times.
  • Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection installs 1GB to speed up load times.
  • Wild Arms 3rd installs to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Taishou Mononoke Ibunroku installs to the HDD to reduce load times.
  • Aero Dancing 4 install to the HDD to reduce load times.

Linux kit

Main article: PS2 Linux

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 with sync-on-green), Network Adaptor (Ethernet only) and a 40 GB hard disk drive. It allows the PlayStation 2 to be used as a personal computer.

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