Tuesday, March 13, 2007

IBM: 65nm Cell Processor Production is Underway at New York Plant

Back in late January, Sony announced that it would be producing a better Cell processor. Instead of the established 90nm process, a 65nm process would be used. 65nm technology is inherently cheaper to mass-produce than its 90nm counterparts, a fact that was not lost on consumers or analysts in light of the steep price for Sony's Cell-based PS3 console. Yesterday, IBM announced that it's $2.5billion (USD) plant in East Fishkill, NY is the first plant to produce the new chip. How long until we see the chips in PS3s available for sale? Not soon enough, is all that can be said. The first-generation PS3 has been doing its best to drain Sony's wallet like a fratboy doing a kegstand, with Sony losing money on every unit it sells. A second-gen PS3 could do wonders to turn that all around, if Sony plays its cards right. The aforementioned Cell processor architecture change will be a big help (the current 90nm chips cost Sony $90 apiece at last report), of course. Then there's Sony's plans to replace most, if not all, of the chips responsible for backwards-compatibility with software in European and Australian models (read more here ) in an effort to cut costs (although this should be the case already with those units set for the European release on March 23). Both should help Sony to try and actually make money on what they sell, although they've stated that price cuts won't be happening any time soon (most likely early '08; summer at the latest). So could there be a second-gen PS3 on the horizon? A new Cell processor based on the 65nm process would be a good place to start, obviously. Sony and Immersion have finished their legal squabbling and there have been strong hints towards a new Sixaxis controller---now with rumble technology. Fewer chips and smaller chips in the PS3 means less to fit in the case, and less heat, so rumors of a smaller form factor PS3 have understandably been popping up like fertilized weeds in online forums and blogs worldwide. So if you were to speculate on a PS3.5, I probably wouldn't laugh. But as with all hopes in the technology industry: don't hold your breath.

- Glock