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Jul 29

Side view of the bga package

Many things contribute to a severe failure of the PlayStation 3 with the symptoms often being described as the yellow light of death or YLOD.

If you want to know why your console has died you really should be pointing the finger at the environmental science boffins who decided it would be a really good idea to remove lead from solder (it probably is a good idea in the long run) and so other alternatives to lead had to be found as additives for the solder, then end result is a new lead free solder that doesn’t stick as good as the old lead based solder.

The second part of the PlayStation 3 yellow light problem is caused by Sony and other manufactures using a new technique called BGA (Ball Grid Array) to apply the main CPU and GPU and also many other devices to the motherboard, the BGA method uses tiny solder balls under the device instead of the traditional pins used by previous consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2, this new BGA technology was not properly tested with lead free solder, but regardless of this the console needed to be released without delay as the Xbox 360 was gaining a massive lead on Sony.

The third and final issue that put the nail in the coffin on the yellow light problem is inadequate cooling of the PS3 CPU & GPU, Sony actually did quite a good job on the cooling system because it had a big fan and an even bigger heat sink. But with time this works like a compact vacuum cleaner and the vents become blocked with dust and dirt and that means no airflow,  no cool air causes over heating and stressing of the processors, the end result is the yellow light of death because the CPU or GPU has become partly un-soldered from the motherboard.

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