UPDATE: Sony has rolled back the mandatory firmware to 4.41, effectively eliminating the need to update and saving more PS3 users from possible bricking with 4.45. Sony has yet to provide official comment on the matter. So, it's now safe to hop online and continue gaming as usual--but there's little word on help for those who've already updated. Stay tuned.
Original: In the wake of firmware 4.45, a mandatory update that released on PlayStation 3 earlier this evening, we're hearing hundreds of reports from PS3 users that installing the update is bricking their systems.
Specifically, after installing the update and rebooting the console, users are seeing the "ribbon" boot-up screen play endlessly without loading to the XMB. Restarting the console doesn't help. Unplugging is required to get even that far, as pressing the power button apparently does nothing.
As Kotaku and Destructoid point out, the issue is far from universal, and seems to be affecting users with upgraded, third-party hard drives with greater frequency. What does this mean for you? Stay the hell away from firmware 4.45--until Sony has issued a comment or fix, and most definitely until we hear more.
That said, if you've already updated your system, sound off in the comments and tell us if your PS3 has bricked or it's business as usual.
Kyle Prahl won't risk updating his PS3 (to download Plus games, naturally) until this situation is resolved. You can follow him on Twitter for updates as the situation progresses.