Digital Foundry has weighed in on yesterday's global PS3 meltdown, cleverly dubbed ApocalyPS3. While early reports seemed to indicate PlayStation Network was at fault – "playstation network down" was a top Google search term on Sunday and Sony itself continues to pin the blame squarely on PSN – it became increasingly clear that the issue was unrelated to the console's internet connectivity and instead related to the console's internal clock. If this sounds suspiciously similar to the Z2K bug that suddenly bricked thousands (dozens?) of 30GB Zune players in 2008, it's because both the PS3 and Zune share an ARM CPU chip, says DF. This is presumably the same Freescale processor blamed for Z2K, a chip that happens to have a known problem dealing with leap years.
According to "unofficial community-compiled lists" cited by Digital Foundry, eight out of the eleven "fat" PS3 SKUs were affected by the faulty chip, easily totaling millions of units. If the problem wasn't resolved quietly (perhaps too quietly, considering the dearth of updates on the company's Twitter feed) and relatively quickly by the inevitable march of time itself, Sony would have been tasked with repairing millions of affected consoles; a burden exacerbated by said console's inability to connect to the PlayStation Network.
Lucky for us, and infinitely more so for Sony, at 0000 GMT yesterday, PS3s the world over suddenly figured out what day it was and everything went back to normal. All that's left to do is hope that Sony issues a patch to prevent the next apocalypse. (Isn't that the one in 2012?)