Print 67 comment(s) - last by Clauzii.. on Feb 10 at 5:38 PM

The original 90nm Cell/B.E. package as found in the PlayStation 3  (Source: DailyTech)
PlayStation 3 CPU soon smaller, cooler, cheaper

In the continuing effort to advance production of the Cell Broadband Engine, IBM revealed yesterday at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco plans to migrate the processor to the 45nm high-k process.

The Cell Broadband Engine chip currently found in the latest PlayStation 3 hardware is manufactured on IBM’s 65nm SOI process, which was quietly introduced into the market with the 40GB PS3. The power consumption drop from the original launch model, which used a 90nm Cell/B.E., to the 40GB model made users take notice of the shift in manufacturing process.

The further shrink of the Cell/B.E. to 45nm will reduce power consumption by another 40 percent and die size by 34 percent, helping to cut costs. Current analyst estimates put the cost of manufacture per PlayStation 3 console at around $400, close to the MSRP of the entry-level 40GB console.

Even with the shift to 45nm, Sony may not immediately pass the cost savings onto the consumer. The PlayStation division finally turned a profit for the first time since the PS3 debut, a trend the company likely wishes to continue. In the long run, however, cheaper components pave the way for eventual price drops.

The upcoming 45nm Cell/B.E. benefits not only the PlayStation 3, as the chip in also used IBM Blade servers for industrial applications, such as medical imaging. Toshiba has also adapted the Cell/B.E. technology, which it calls the SpursEngine, for mobile graphical applications.

According to Ars Technica, IBM’s effort in shrinking the Cell/B.E. is done solely with Sony in mind. As the PlayStation 3 is the largest application of Cell/B.E. technology, IBM apparently tailored the smaller chip for cooler and cheaper consoles, rather than for increased performance and functionality. Such is hinted at an IBM document, stating, “To guarantee the proper operation of existing gaming software, the exact cycle-by-cycle machine behavior, including operating frequency, must be preserved.”

Such considerations for Sony by its partners are important for the console maker, as the company itself is getting out of the chip business. On April 1, Sony will be officially handing over control of Cell/B.E. manufacturing facilities to Toshiba. Sony also stated that it will cease R&D efforts on future 32nm chip processes, though it will remain active with Toshiba and IBM on future iterations of the Cell/B.E.

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RE: great news
By AstroCreep on 2/7/2008 7:53:55 PM , Rating: 3
The point is to use it to fold when you're NOT playing games.

Plus the Cell is much more powerful than a normal computer CPU; it can fold circles around any modern PC.

RE: great news
By hlper on 2/7/2008 7:58:43 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, I have wondered the same thing. Does the owner of the PS3 derive any benefit or pleasure from folding at home? Clearly a lot of people do it, but what exactly is the draw?

RE: great news
By someguy123 on 2/7/2008 8:16:23 PM , Rating: 5
it's to help a Standford group simulate protein folding in order to better understand it and use that knowledge to hopefully cure certain diseases. it's not really for personal gain unless of course you have a disease that could be cured with such knowledge.

RE: great news
By geddarkstorm on 2/7/2008 9:17:40 PM , Rating: 5
People can be altruistic, can't they? You don't have to do everything for personal gain and immediate pleasure; at least that's the theoretical gift that "reason" and "sentience" gives us, not that people have to act any different than what primal instincts compel, it seems.

It's basically donation of CPU cycles to science to further our understanding of the world, and thus our species as a whole.

RE: great news
By AlphaVirus on 2/7/2008 10:55:40 PM , Rating: 3
I have found that asside from helping Stanford, it is a great music player. I can tell you from first hand the wife loves it.
With the PS3 you can rip all of your music from cds or directly from your PC. I only have about 10 cds on it so far but I still have about 50GB remaining on the 80GB. With Folding@Home you can play music while it folds and you can choose what kind of music you want to play. I always leave it on Recommended because it plays music based on the time of day.

Trust me when I say this, around 9pm turn on Folding and just lay with your spouse, all the RIGHT songs will come on. If not for intercourse, she/he will appreciate you setting everything up to spend time with them.

Remember, when a gaming console brings a family closer together its a win-win situation.

RE: great news
By BruceLeet on 2/8/2008 1:40:10 AM , Rating: 1

RE: great news
By feraltoad on 2/8/2008 4:45:44 AM , Rating: 2
When the Night Fever has begun, we don't have to fold it

That is by far one of the more bizarre posts I've read on DT. Now for some Binary Haiku.

RE: great news
By tastyratz on 2/8/2008 9:17:00 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are a mythical creature. Your like the toothfairy. Getting laid because you leave your playstation on is probably every high school students wet dream.
Knowing my luck my fiance probably be next to me at that moment and deathmetal starts up.
f@h is a great cause and I think its great they have it on the ps3. Maybe most people wont use it but having it right there in the menu makes it possible.

RE: great news
By AlphaVirus on 2/8/2008 9:36:09 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are a mythical creature. Your like the toothfairy. Getting laid because you leave your playstation on is probably every high school students wet dream.

Uhm, what?

I was simply stating that not only can you do the Folding but instead of having to create a playlist or put on a cd and skip through tracks or hoping the radio has good love songs on, you can just let F@H do the work for you.

Do you understand now?

Knowing my luck my fiance probably be next to me at that moment and deathmetal starts up.

Fool, read and perhaps you would not have to make nonsense comments. Depending on the time of day it plays certain songs. The reason I said 9pm is because it knows that is night time and it will start to play the slow/love/r&b type of songs. Now if you have ONLY deathmetal on your PS3 then of course thats what will play, but if you have music that soothes then you have yourself a winner.

And trust me, once you actually let her know how smart the PS3 is she will want to know more about it. Of course that only applies if you dont have a gamer chick like me. I try to find several ways to get her interested in video games.

RE: great news
By psychobriggsy on 2/8/2008 11:00:10 AM , Rating: 2
The reason I said 9pm is because it knows that is night time and it will start to play the slow/love/r&b type of songs.

I hope this is configurable, because whilst I have gentle music, at that time I really need to listen to harsh industrial noise.

Soft music is for saturday afternoons. Does it have that option?

Maybe the playlist method is best after all.

RE: great news
By PAPutzback on 2/8/2008 11:54:58 AM , Rating: 2
M TIVO Thinks I am gay.

Seriously. What if you and your buddies are playing Texas Hold'em at 9 o'clock and the PS3 thinks it is time to play sheet music. Creepy. I prefer Ratt over Barry White when I am looking for a flush.

RE: great news
By ImSpartacus on 2/7/2008 8:34:59 PM , Rating: 3
I am kind of skeptical about cell being better than a modern desktop cpu. But I think f@h with the ps3 is a good idea.

BTW- anyone have any info on cell's superiority to a modern x86 cpu? i'm not trying to criticize, I just would like to learn.

RE: great news
By daftrok on 2/7/2008 8:47:31 PM , Rating: 1
I think he meant when it comes to running folding@home, its much faster than a PC, which is true. Its almost as if the Cell Broadband Engine was MADE for Folding@home.

RE: great news
By geddarkstorm on 2/7/2008 9:18:24 PM , Rating: 2
I only have one thing to say to that...

dun Dun DUN!

RE: great news
By althaz on 2/9/2008 3:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
Except that it's still a lot slower than a high-endish GPU.

RE: great news
By Goty on 2/7/2008 9:39:19 PM , Rating: 3
The Cell B.E. is well-suited for the calculations performed in F@H primarily because it is highly parallel (the same reason that a GPU is incredibly well suited to the task), allowing it to perform many more calculations per clock than any modern x86 CPU. The drawback is that the Cell B.E. is somewhat limited in the types of work units it can compute when compared to an x86 processor.

RE: great news
By mars777 on 2/8/2008 8:24:34 AM , Rating: 2
If you take out the SPEs from the CELL processor you have a tipical general purpose Risc CPU. Not limited in any way on what it can or what it cannot. It can do anything a general purpose cpu can.

RE: great news
By Clauzii on 2/10/2008 5:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
Except that the speed of the PPC used in CELL is "only" comparable to a ~XP1800, I think it was.

RE: great news
By Ratwar on 2/7/2008 9:43:12 PM , Rating: 2
Basically it all comes down to being able to do massive parallelism in the Cell processor. Folding is probably just a lot of relatively simple calculations making it right up the PS3's alley.

RE: great news
By B3an on 2/7/2008 10:55:47 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. The Cell is not more powerful than a modern PC CPU, it's just perfectly suited for F@H.
For PC based tasks even a low end Core 2 Duo would crap all over it.

John Carmack has pointed this out aswell, and that was around 2 years ago.

RE: great news
By B3an on 2/7/2008 11:05:36 PM , Rating: 3
I'd also like the mention that a modern GPU is superior to Cell with F@H because of it's parallel design. If you look at the most powerful processors on the F@H site they are GPU's.
But for non-parallel things a GPU and Cell will suck.

RE: great news
By masher2 on 2/7/2008 11:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
> "For PC based tasks even a low end Core 2 Duo would crap all over it."

Not quite. Cell does poorly on highly branchy code; it excels on any code that fits the SIMD model for which it was designed.

There are a lot of "PC based tasks" which aren't branch heavy, however.

RE: great news
By Clauzii on 2/9/2008 8:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
You should expect the Cell to be ~3 times faster than the current top consumer CPUs. (120 vs. 40 GFlops).

But as stated by others: GPUs tend to be MUCH faster for calculating, than anything else out there. I wonder why it takes so long to get drivers out that include math libraries written for GPUs...

RE: great news
By Clauzii on 2/10/2008 5:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, nedded to say the CELL used in PS3, since only 6 SPEs are avaiable to the user. (One is not used, and one used by the system.)

RE: great news
By Meaker10 on 2/8/2008 4:10:53 AM , Rating: 2
But not a modern GPU...

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