Print 22 comment(s) - last by FITCamaro.. on Mar 13 at 11:02 PM

The Cell processor at 90nm as it exists in current PS3s
PlayStation 3 chip shrunken to lower costs

IBM announced today that the company has begun producing a new, 65-nanometer version of the Cell Broadband Engine at IBM's state-of-the-art East Fishkill, New York microchip production facility.

Cell processors found in current Sony PlayStation 3 consoles and IBM BladeCenter servers are manufactured on a 90-nanometer process. Shrinking a chip’s die allows more processors to be produced per wafer, a key factor in driving down production costs.

Sony is desperately trying to reduce the costs of its PlayStation 3, as each console is still being sold below cost of manufacture. iSuppli estimates that each Cell chip costs Sony $89, more than a tenth of the entire bill of materials for the PlayStation 3. The shift to 65-nanometer would significantly reduce the cost of the Cell processor.

Aside from costs, other advantages of moving to a smaller process include lower power consumption needs, less heat production—both of which potentially leading to more reliable systems.

Moving to 65-nanometer is just another method for Sony to cost reduce its console. Last month, Sony announced that its European PlayStation 3 consoles will ship without the Emotion Engine chip, a component used for backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 games, in an effort to save $27 in material costs.

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By PlasmaBomb on 3/13/2007 6:06:44 AM , Rating: 2
If it currently only costs Sony $89, then what’s the 65nm version going to cost? $50? Or are they going to ramp up economies of scale?

RE: Cell
By TSS on 3/13/2007 6:38:48 AM , Rating: 1
no idea what the 65nm version will cost then but obviously it'll be somewhat below the current price. which, if calculated through, is only going to mean 1 thing for the next 6 months atleast:

a bigger profit for the sony people.

RE: Cell
By michal1980 on 3/13/07, Rating: -1
RE: Cell
By tuteja1986 on 3/13/07, Rating: 0
RE: Cell
By Zandros on 3/13/2007 12:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously, since the EU do not employ any custom duties or taxes at all... remove the standard 17,5% VAT from that. Do they still make a profit?

By the way, it's "loss".

RE: Cell
By ghost101 on 3/13/2007 12:10:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well you're completely wrong because youve ignored tax which is ~15% in most of europe and 17.5% in the UK.

RE: Cell
By peternelson on 3/13/2007 5:31:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yes UK has 17.5% VAT and maybe some import duty, but American states AFAIK have sales taxes too of maybe 8%?

Actually the price we're paying (depending on exchange rate) was £425GBP or more which was around $840 US recently.

The extra $40 therefore offsets the difference in tax rates.

Certainly selling (or overcharging customers) in Europe is more profitable than selling them in USA.

RE: Cell
By NainoKami on 3/13/2007 6:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
25% in Denmark, FYI.

RE: Cell
By psychobriggsy on 3/13/2007 10:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be surprised if for every week the PS3 has been on sale, Sony have been able to shave a few dollars of the cost of production here and there (better yields for the CPUs/GPUs, cheaper RAM, cheaper drives, ...) and that's before die shrinks and component removals. The same argument obviously applied to the 360, as that went from making a large loss per console to making a profit within a year according to estimates.

RE: Cell
By Lonyo on 3/13/2007 6:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
Well the die size will be reduced by ~45%, so that means almost twice as many chips per wafer (in theory, although yields for 65nm will be different to 90nm), so they can get a lot more chips per wafer, which reduces cost considerably (although by less than 45% I would expect)

RE: Cell
By michal1980 on 3/13/07, Rating: -1
Also means...
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2007 6:22:15 AM , Rating: 2
Expect the 360s processor to also be on 65nm shortly. Each 360 core is the same PPC core that Cell uses.

As I've said, IBM is loving this console generation.

RE: Also means...
By ZeeStorm on 3/13/2007 7:48:23 AM , Rating: 2
Are you sure you have your information correct? The SPE's in the Cell are not in the IBM processor for the X360. They were designed entirely different. The X360 processor is triple core, as well, from what I remember.

RE: Also means...
By StevoLincolnite on 3/13/2007 8:35:42 AM , Rating: 3
The Processors are indeed different, The Xbox 360 has 3 cores and a form of hyper threading. (Theoretically 6 cores - different implementation than that of the Pentium D/4 thus performance is un-gaged)

"The chip features a customized version of IBM's industry leading 64-bit PowerPC core. The chip includes three of these cores, each with two simultaneous threads and clock speeds greater than

3 GHz. It features 165 million transistors and is fabricated using IBM's 90 nanometer Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology to reduce heat and improve performance. The chip's innovative 21.6 GB/s Front Side Bus (FSB) Architecture was customized to meet the demanding throughput and latency requirements of the Xbox 360 gaming platform software."
The Cell uses 1 standard purpose powerpc core. Which is SIMILAR to one of the Xbox 360's though it doesn't have hyper threading support. The synergistic processing units on the other hand are completely different...

RE: Also means...
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2007 10:04:34 AM , Rating: 2
I only said the PPC core was the same, not the SPEs. Yes its not 100% the same but the two are very similar. Hyperthreading most likely can be enabled or disabled like with Intel's processors. The support is there, Intel just doesn't give it to us.

RE: Also means...
By psychobriggsy on 3/13/2007 10:22:39 AM , Rating: 2
Cell's ( ARGH DailyTech stop moving the cursor to the Subject line will you ) PPU can do two threads. It's a slightly updated and tweaked version of the PPU used in the XBox 360's processor. As with any SMT implementation the second thread does not increase performance vastly (athough it will be better than Netburst simply because of the in-order design of the PPU leaving more unutilised units).

The rest of the processor is vastly different however, as you say.

[In my opinion Cell for the PS3 would have been better with 2 PPUs and 4 SPUs instead of 1 PPU and 8 (7) SPUs. Still the SPUs are good for physics and media.]

big whoop
By thejez on 3/13/07, Rating: 0
RE: big whoop
By Ratwar on 3/13/2007 9:13:13 AM , Rating: 4
Since they are selling at a loss, you could make the point that they're already passing on the savings to you... There's a pretty large difference in cutting costs to reduce losses than cutting costs to increase profit...

Time for the laggers to buy is drawing near ...
By SunAngel on 3/13/07, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2007 12:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
The huge majority of people won't know the difference since they don't read sites like this. So people aren't going to run out and buy one now that its on a smaller processing scale.

I know I'm not. I'll eventually get one probably but it's not going to be this year. When they get the price in line with other consoles, then I'll think about it. I could care less about Blu-ray so I don't feel like paying the premium for it because Sony tells me to. DVDs look great on my 42" DLP as it is.

By Teletran1 on 3/13/2007 1:57:17 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the same way until I actually had HD movies in the home. They don't look like DVD at all. Its really no comparison. Sure some movies don't blow you away but a lot do. If you are going to spend the money on a HDTV you might as well us it.

By FITCamaro on 3/13/2007 11:02:30 PM , Rating: 1
I do with my HD cable.

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