Is that a JTAG port on the Vita?

Japanese developer goroh_kun, known locally for some of his work on Android, recently started investigating the PlayStation Vita. A few days ago he wondered if any hacker had seriously started to look into the Vita’s hardware (the answer was no, at least not publicly).

Yesterday he published a simple photo of the Vita CPU (picture below), showing what could be a JTAG port on the CPU. For those of you who don’t know, JTAG is a standard for electronics debugging (yay wikipedia!). It is used mostly for testing circuit boards (such as a console motherboards) during hardware development phases, but also in production, in order to randomly test retail units for quality control, or to check damaged units.

Could these 8 silver squares close to the CPU be JTAG ports?

Because JTAG allows anybody to communicate with the hardware, it is, of course, used by hackers as well to learn more about the hardware they are dealing with.

Therefore a working JTAG port on a Sony console would probably be very useful for hackers, but it would also be extremely surprising. Sony has been known to factory-deactivate JTAG ports from their consoles in the past, so such a mistake would be extremely unlikely. But we’ll see :)

One interesting side-effect of this is that we are seeing more people coming from non-console hacking worlds into the Vita realm. Yifanlu was mostly known for work on the Kindle, and goroh_kun usually lurks in the Android scene. If anything, I would say that Sony’s consoles have gained a reputation of being fairly secure, and this attracts hardware and software hackers looking for a challenge.

  1. Youtube Is SuperVisionaryHD’s avatar

    Wololo rocks i love your articles sub SuperVisionaryHD

    Reply

  2. BATMAN’s avatar

    Lets hope for a reset glitch just like xbox!

    Reply

  3. Hugo’s avatar

    Go Hackers!!!!

    Reply

  4. Kevin’s avatar

    The Vita hacking/homebrew scene is busier than Sony’s release schedule!

    Reply

    1. CATPowah’s avatar

      LOL. Sadly, that’s true.

      Reply

    2. Gui’s avatar

      Their release schedule is why we’re busier.

      Reply

  5. xDepths’s avatar

    oh that is just beautiful

    Reply

    1. Rufus’s avatar

      Sorry to be off topic here, but I really like your Periphery avatar. :)

      Reply

  6. Carlos BR’s avatar

    I traded an xbox jtag with the PSVita. Now I have this good news! =)

    Reply

  7. Mr McGoo’s avatar

    Im not gonna lie, I got a jtagged xbox360 of my own. I love it. It can do almost anything. Im sure that if this turned out to be legit that we would be seeing not just ps1 but probably ps2 games in a matter of time.

    Reply

    1. fate6’s avatar

      no you wont ever see PS2 games unless there ports
      people sure do like to dream ^__^

      Reply

  8. randy is pseudo’s avatar

    I have an idea…how bout hackin the hell out of the vita, including jtag and all the goods…but in a way that those who made the hack release firmwares themselves to prevent any piracy…that way us kick ass gamers can play snes, nes, ps1, n64, and any other emulator from the far past with the Vita’s full raw power…I dont know if i seem far fetched, and im not a huge hacker myself (although i want to be), but i would love for these hackers to join and evolve this idea into reality! Donations can be made to keep up with production i guess…idk. Either way, thanks wololo for vhbl.

    Reply

    1. Tyler Guy’s avatar

      Once the console is compromised to the point of unsigned code being ran, all anyone would have to do is hijack that initial process, and they could do almost anything they wanted at that point, and someone else would just do it.

      Reply

  9. nnniii’s avatar

    Could any developer help me out?

    I want to know more about hardware. Have the knowledge goroh_kun (for example) has.

    I already know C, ASM, Scheme, Python and Ruby. I have a good foundation on the software world and wanted to spread myself on other fields :-)

    Particularly, I would like to know books about the subject and such things, I’m totally lost.

    Thank you!

    Reply

    1. Moehammered’s avatar

      Learn by doing. Research and learn how CPU’s work. Assembly is a good start but in the case of the PSP for example, the instruction set it uses for its CPU is MIPS. Learning MIPS would help you further understand how the PSP’s CPU worked. Its one of those ground up learning processes. (At least from what I’ve researched so far)

      Reply

  10. DCSmith707’s avatar

    I got no idea what it means, but I’m glad that it makes people happy.

    Reply

  11. darkanubis74’s avatar

    That’s pretty awesome if it’s a working jtag. I wouldn’t get your hopes up yet though.

    Reply

  12. MrJack’s avatar

    this would be Amazing!

    Reply

  13. Norml’s avatar

    $onys lack of PR to their customers is enough for anyone to say f*ck it, lets check out this locked bad boy down. $ony keeps implementing more and more restraints against it’s customers. It’s unacceptable and there’s no excuse for high priced memory cards and one account per console per memory card…someone has to step up, the mobile apps are not shooting to the stars like Apple did it, because Apple woke up and you can jailbreak. Sony just does not care, they could implement features so the consumer could customize the device without hacking it, but NOOOOOO. We could do what? Move around some bubbles and change the background….

    Reply

    1. Chasez671’s avatar

      I agree. I would also like to see some more customization options for the homescreen. Live wallpapers would be nice.

      Reply

    2. z3’s avatar

      The reason for the memorycard prices it to make money there instead of on the hardware itself. Sony could easily have priced the Vita $50 more, and sold the memorycards cheaper.

      What types of costumization are you thinking about by the way?

      Reply

    3. Darkanubis74’s avatar

      Apple didn’t “wake up” they lost a court battle to make it illegal. they still patch their firmware like everyone else to make it “not able to be jailbroken”

      Reply

  14. sharlock’s avatar

    I hope something good comes out of this so that it can motivate people into buying it which in return will motivate sony into doing Better stuff for the vita

    Reply

  15. Sakuryu’s avatar

    Wewt Bring on the hacking !

    Reply

  16. RT’s avatar

    JTAG also have many type protocol , still need time for hacker. If there have hardware hacker, it would be great. Because Sony can,t update though psn or game.
    I hope there isn’t any efuse like xbox. …

    Reply

  17. KeZ’s avatar

    They can disable rhe JTAG feature via sw, like some mobile phones manufacturers do. But others, like Samsung and HTC, let this feature enable even in retail devices.

    Reply

    1. gunblade’s avatar

      yeah noticed da load of the 3g conection on start up

      Reply

      1. gunblade’s avatar

        think its probly fo bricked units dough

        Reply

  18. fate6’s avatar

    I have seen this brought up before but no one bothered checking >__<

    Reply

  19. kikershadow’s avatar

    Seems sony psvita hack run like wind and i hope hack my console with any firmware or any hack, nice updates men, i want open my ps vita but my mind said dont touch any thing.

    Reply

  20. kikershadow’s avatar

    only one question ps vita can run android 4.0 o never can made this dual boot or run ubuntu for movil.
    its joke no men tell me this a true os android running on ps vita but how install if no way to get root of memory sony ps vita no linux recognize and windows no recognize the format how can install boo t but how if no recognize like sd hdd anyway tell me if you now some thing and how install os psvita again thanks.

    https://plus.google.com/photos/116988351660148062102/albums/5726426781399932609/5726426782238893634

    Reply

    1. youngoz’s avatar

      fake… it seems to be a APRIL FOOLS joke…

      Reply

    2. Jd8531’s avatar

      That’s not even possible. It was a prank.

      Reply

    3. gunblade’s avatar

      makes the vita look like an htc

      Reply

  21. pottsrok21’s avatar

    Can a Jtag port on the vita possibly give hackers the info needed to make a CFW?
    Or do everyone have to connect to those ports themselves?

    Reply

  22. Demonchld’s avatar

    i love how all these people bitch and complain about piracy blah blah blah…. but in the same time they want to pirate and play SNES NES SEGA Games…. etc… do u really think they own copys of those games they want to play so bad??? i doubt that….

    i for one would love and ISO loader is i can play all my PSP Games and not rebuy them again…. so please hackers go at it

    Reply

  23. empc’s avatar

    challenge accepted !!!!

    Reply

  24. yyy’s avatar

    “If anything, I would say that Sony’s consoles have gained a reputation of being fairly secure, and this attracts hardware and software hackers looking for a challenge.”

    I agree with this. I’ve seen the reasons such as “it is no point in hacking if it supports homebrew or Linux”, but the challenge reason will always be there. So it is kinda pointless (from a hacking-protecting perspective) to include any form for official homebrew support. It will never be good enough for some people, and then there is always the challenge of hacking a system on top of that.

    Reply

  25. The End’s avatar

    Bingo!

    Jtag can’t believe it took you guys this long to figure it out…

    Reply

  26. Sonic-Iso’s avatar

    hate to break it to you guys but i just tried riskwatch on those points… seems like its disabled.

    Reply

  27. Sonic-Iso’s avatar

    if anyone else has a riskwatch can you please verify this for me.

    Reply

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>