IBM Produces Cell Processor Using New Fabrication Technology

IBM Helps Sony to Reduce PlayStation 3 Costs Using 65nm Cell Chips

by Anton Shilov
03/12/2007 | 12:23 PM

IBM Microelectronics on Monday said that it had begun production of Cell microprocessors using a new fabrication process, which effectively cuts down the cost of the chips as well as production costs of devices that are based on the processor jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba.


“The company has begun producing a new, 65nm version of the Cell Broadband Engine at IBM’s state-of-the-art East Fishkill, New York microchip production facility,” a statement by IBM reads.

Previously IBM and Sony produced Cell processor, which is currently used only inside IBM’s BladeCenter servers, Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console and some application-specific products, using 90nm process technology. According to analysts from iSupply market tracker, the cost of the chip was as high as $89, making it the third most expensive component of PlayStation 3 game console. $89 is a relatively high price, for example, according to analysts from In-Stat research firm, the average production cost of an Intel Corp.’s microprocessor’s die is $40. The shrink of the fabrication node to 65nm will allow IBM and Sony to cut down the chip cost to $60 or below.

The Cell microprocessor, which was jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, incorporates one dual-threaded PowerPC core and eight so-called synergistic processing engines (SPEs) intended for floating-point calculations, the most demanding tasks in entertainment, workstation and server systems. The PowerPC core has 32KB L1 cache and 512KB L2 cache, while each of the SPEs has 256KB of cache. The Cell has built-in Rambus XDR memory interface, capable of data rates from 3.20GHz to 8.0GHz. The chip also uses FlexIO processor buses that are capable of running at up to 6.40GHz.