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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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Now if only a new form factor will come.
By krotchy on 2/7/2008 8:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
This is great news. What I am really hoping for is a PS3v2 with a smaller form factor. The current PS3 is way to big to fit attractively into my media rack. If they would just drop the size a bit now that the are running lower power chips it would be much more desirable.

I imagine this is probably under development as we speak too, as Sony did make a PSP Slim and a Slim PS2, so its not exactly new territory to them.




RE: Now if only a new form factor will come.
By AlphaVirus on 2/7/2008 10:04:32 PM , Rating: 3
I like the form factor of the PS3. Why does it have to be squared, cubed, or boxed in any way to "fit in"?
I have mine sitting vertically next to my tv and it has gained alot of attraction from friends, family and neighbors. Not just because its a PS3 but because it does look fasionably cool compared to your typical boxed dvd player or cable box.

The main thing this form factor is good for is heat dessipation. If your PS3 is laid horizontal, you may not be able to stack 20 things on it but it has little to no heat issues.

The PS3's case was well desingned and I think they should keep it the way it is.


By krotchy on 2/8/2008 4:21:54 AM , Rating: 2
I am not suggesting you change the look of it. Just make it smaller :)

Take the same box and scale it to exactly 60% and its perfect IMO :p


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