The old PS3 SKU features a slightly larger heatsink.  (Source: Pocket Gamer)

The new PS3 with a 40 nm RSX chip has a slightly smaller cooler and less chips -- all of which save on production costs.  (Source: Pocket Gamer)
Die shrink brings multiple benefits

Sony has endured a rough run this generation.  It has yet to profit on its PlayStation 3 hardware and its sales have lagged behind competitors Nintendo and Microsoft.  Occasionally, the veteran player has snagged a solid month in sales, but such bright spots have been few and far between.  Still, the console has slowly garnered millions of loyal fans, and is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

In 2006 when the PS3 aired, it cost over $800 to make and Sony was losing $240 per $599 unit (Wi-Fi, 60 GB HDD) and $305 per $499 unit (20 GB HDD).  Now after a long road the PS3 is about to become profitable from a hardware perspective.

The latest PS3 SKU, CECH-2100A, brings a die-shrink to the GPU according to
PlayStation University.  The 65-nm RSX GPU of the CECH-2000A SKU has been replaced with a 40-nm die shrink.  As PS3 buffs may recall, Sony already did a similar die-shrink to a 45-nm process for the Cell CPU.  

The new die shrink reduces the number of associated chips on the circuit board and reduces the size of the cooler on the chip.  The chip should be able to run a bit cooler, and the cuts (and cheaper process) mean that Sony will likely pocket a considerable savings per unit.

Of course the picture is far from crystal clear when it comes to how Sony is faring financially with the PS3.  Much of any console-maker's profits come from the licensing fees associated with software sales.  And on the minus column, while hardware improvements like the GPU shrink save money in the long run, they cost money to implement up front in terms of manufacturing infrastructure investment.

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