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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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RE: PS3 won with better technology!
By Pryde on 2/8/2008 3:06:06 AM , Rating: 2
Total sales isn't really fair to Sony or Nintendo because they released their products a lot later than Microsoft.

Look at the other graphs on, they show that PS3 is outselling the 360 lately week by week. They also show that in the PS3 first year it has sold more units than the 360 in its first year.

All this despite the PS3 lacking title range, the 360 is selling a lot more games but when MGS4, GTA4, GT:Prologue and others hit the 360 is gonna have a tough time.

And now that Blu-ray has "unofficially" been crowned the HD format a price drop on the PS3 would knockout the 360.

By robertgu2k on 2/8/2008 8:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
One thing you might want to consider is that the first year of the Xbox 360 was EXTREMELY supply constrained.

Microsoft had trouble producing what was then a complex and advanced design (Xbox's 3 core CPU was bleeding edge for the time when 1 core consumer CPUs was the norm). In Year 1 it was extremely difficult to find an Xbox anywhere (like the Wii is today), it wasn't until towards the end of the year when supply was generally good in the stores.

Meanwhile Sony's supply in the stores in Year 1 was pretty darn good and widespread after the first few months.

So IMHO, comparing Year 1 PS3 sells to Year 1 Xbox 360 sells is useless for anything other than comparing how Sony was able to successfully ramp production much better in Year 1 than Microsoft was able to.

As for the comment of PS3 selling better lately week by week; that makes sense since it follows the law of diminishing returns. There are roughly twice as many Xbox 360s in the market than PS3 currently, thus largely those that wanted an Xbox at these prices have largely already brought one. Meanwhile there are still alot of people without PS3s and the recent price drops and prospects for finally a descent game library are causing the "wait and see" crowd to finally jump in.

I personally think it's a testament that a console with twice the market penetration of the PS3 and a year older is in fact still showing sells numbers that are within a stone's throw of Sony's at this stage. By all logic Sony should be blowing away Xbox's sells numbers by now.


::My Console Profile:: I brought and Xbox 360 and a PS3. After three months of owning the PS3 I gave it to my nephew. All it was doing was collecting dust in my entertainment center. I still own the Xbox and don’t care for the Wii.


"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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