IBM Reveals Smaller, 45nm Cell Processor

Smaller, cheaper PS3 to follow soon?

In case you thought that High-K, metal gate transistor technology was an Intel-exclusive achievement, IBM would like you all to know that it too has managed to shrink a processor down to 45m – namely the Cell as seen in Toshiba TVs and, of course, the Sony PlayStation 3. Given the ongoing debacle regarding Microsoft’s Xbox 360 overheating problems you might be surprised to hear that the first games console likely to see its processor given another die-shrink (both have already gone from 90nm to 65nm) is actually Sony’s PlayStation 3, but c’est la vie.

Talking particulars the shrink not only means increased yields and thus reduced pricing (hopefully), but also brings a 40 per cent power reduction compared to the 65nm Cell seen in the current PS3 SKU. This means that the new Cell chip will run cooler than its predecessor, which in turn means that systems built around it can be smaller.

Obviously the Cell-based machine we all want to see smaller and cheaper is Sony’s PlayStation. Supposedly console production costs are pretty much the same as retail pricing now, so lowering the price of the processor should allow Sony to potentially turn a profit from the PS3 or, preferably, lower pricing again. For those wondering, unlike Intel’s 45nm die-shrink, IBM has kept the performance characteristics of the new Cell the same as the older model in order “to guarantee the proper operation of existing gaming software” – a pretty clear indicator IBM was thinking of Sony during the shrink.

Of course Sony isn’t the only company using the Cell; Toshiba is incorporating it into various TV sets in place of dedicated video processing chips. Given the space constraints of a television, the cooler, smaller design should make IBM’s latest development prove just as useful in this domain. Wherever it gets implemented, one thing is sure; a smaller, cooler, cheaper, better yielding Cell is good news for everyone.

Ars Technica story.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor