The Cell just got smaller

Written by Brett Thomas

March 14, 2007 | 11:33

Tags: #65nm #blade #cell #ps3 #server

Companies: #ibm #sony

Look out, world - Sony's heart just got a little smaller. Ba-dah-bum. Pshh! Thank you, thank you... I'll be here all week.

Anyhow, done with the jokes and onto the news - IBM has dropped a quiet little press release into the water this week detailing the Cell processor getting a die shrink. The heart of the PS3 is now a mere 65nm... fabrication process, at least.

IBM developed the chip in a three-way venture with Sony and its long-time chip-making ally Toshiba, and by many counts it is one of the most powerful processors made. The die-shrink to 65nm will likely have all of the usual benefits of lower heat and lower power-draw, as well as a higher yield per wafer. And that means one thing - cheaper chips.

Though IBM has made its obligatory press releases, the company that should be really blowing its horn on the announcement hasn't said much of anything. Sony has kept perfectly silent about the release, which is odd since it powers the company's baby - and a technical improvement would be some good news right now.

This could mean that though the Cell gets a shrink, the price to a consumer won't - and that wouldn't be good news. This could just be a strategy to get a little more profitability out of a currently losing proposition, or it could be something worse for Sony than just some bad press. If the company committed to certain numbers of units at a certain price, Sony may not see the benefits of the shrink itself until way down the line. If so, all the company has is some new temperature specs to show for it.

IBM, on the other hand, is going to enjoy this in every way possible. The Cell isn't only the PS3's baby - IBM also uses the powerful little chip design in its Blade servers. And the worst thing for Sony would be the best thing for IBM - it could maximise its profits on the chip fabrication for a while before it has to re-negotiate its contract.

Do you have a thought on the die shrink? Happy your upcoming PS3 may not be as hot as a George Foreman grill to match the looks? Let us know your thoughts in our forums.
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