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.