At an ISSCC session yesterday afternoon, IBM announced details of a smaller, lower-power version of the Cell BE processor that powers Sony's Playstation 3. The Cell BE is currently fabricated on IBM's 65nm SOI process, but IBM will soon move the console chip onto the company's much-ballyhooed, next-generation 45nm high-k process.
The 45nm Cell will use about 40 percent less power than its 65nm predecessor, and its die area will be reduced by 34 percent. The greatly reduced power budget will cut down on the amount of active cooling required by the console, which in turn will make it cheaper to produce and more reliable (this means fewer warrantied returns). Also affecting Sony's per-unit cost is the reduction in overall die size. A smaller die means a smaller, cheaper package; it also means that yields will be better and that each chip will cost less overall.