Well, it took a while, but we can all finally say, "ah-HA! Found it!"
When PlayStation 3 firmware update 2.80 became available, there was more to it than just the standard description: "The playback quality of some PlayStation 3 format software has been improved." We had heard there was one specific feature the update provided that wouldn't become clear until a later date, and everyone seemed to have their own theory. A few sources even stumbled upon minor changes, like PS3Attitude finding an increased character limit during chat, and TheSixthAxis saying the update was needed for the console's music video application, VidZone. But we needed a developer to tell us the big secret: according to GameZine , Uncharted 2: Among Thieves producer Sam Thompson exposed the truth during an interview at this year's Comic-Con event in San Diego. And that secret is…more RAM:
"Naughty Dog is constantly working to improve every aspect of the gameplay; be it animation, lighting, sound, texture fidelity. You know if you look at the game itself with the 2.80 engine update, you know we're adding more memory, so we get a lot more utilisation of the SPUs so we increase our optimisation of the Cell processor as well. So we've got from the engineering side all the way up to texture fidelity, artists adding in even more…I mean there's really not a singular aspect that's not been improved in the game."
Obviously, something came about during the 2.80 engine update that allowed the team to "add more memory," and as GameZine points out, "a reduced OS memory footprint is a common inclusion with PS3 updates." For our part, we're hoping this is the end of the 2.80 rumor mill, and it's interesting to see how Sony is helping developers. Still, we don't understand why they didn't just tell us this when the update released. Well, whatever.