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Old 29-Apr-2012, 02:44   #1
The Seventh Taylor
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Default Sony Cell BE / RSX shrink & integration roadmap

It's been over 24 months since the 40nm RSX was introduced in production of PS3, and over 30 months since the 45nm Cell was. Where are the 32nm versions? And where is the integrated Cell/RSX chip, the PS3-on-a-chip if you like?

Is this what the shrink & integration roadmap looks like? Will they be combined? And will there be shrunk stand-alone versions first or will they go straight for the single die (or a SiP perhaps)?



Also I can't help wondering: Why did PS2s EE and GS have so many more shrink iterations (more than 1 per year) compared to PS3's Cell and RSX?

Anyway, although nothing that points in this direction has leaked thus far I personally do believe Sony will launch some sort of PS3 Ultra Slim (whatever the name) at E3 this year.
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Old 29-Apr-2012, 06:41   #2
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Originally Posted by The Seventh Taylor View Post
It's been over 24 months since the 40nm RSX was introduced in production of PS3, and over 30 months since the 45nm Cell was. Where are the 32nm versions? And where is the integrated Cell/RSX chip, the PS3-on-a-chip if you like?

Is this what the shrink & integration roadmap looks like? Will they be combined? And will there be shrunk stand-alone versions first or will they go straight for the single die (or a SiP perhaps)?



Also I can't help wondering: Why did PS2s EE and GS have so many more shrink iterations (more than 1 per year) compared to PS3's Cell and RSX?

Anyway, although nothing that points in this direction has leaked thus far I personally do believe Sony will launch some sort of PS3 Ultra Slim (whatever the name) at E3 this year.
I would wager the fabs they have are way behind the industry leads, and 28nm, the next step after 40nm for GPUs, has only been out for what, 4 months from TSMC? Also, IIRC only AMD and Intel actually have 32nm products out right now, even IBM hasn't sold anything on 32nm yet. Sonys fabs with toshiba and their own GPU fab are probably at least a year behind TSMC and IBM. So maybe next year.
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Old 29-Apr-2012, 08:11   #3
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It's been over 24 months since the 40nm RSX was introduced in production of PS3, and over 30 months since the 45nm Cell was. Where are the 32nm versions?
32nm and 28nm capacity is still at a serious premium, and basically all the fabs are operating at capacity (and will be for the immediate future, making smart phone, tablet and gpu chips). This means that shrinking would have little return, so it won't get done.

Quote:
Also I can't help wondering: Why did PS2s EE and GS have so many more shrink iterations (more than 1 per year) compared to PS3's Cell and RSX?
The cost of shrinking has gone up, and the benefit from it has gone down at every node. This means that the shrink schedules are going to be much less aggressive.
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Old 30-Apr-2012, 23:33   #4
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Also, IIRC only AMD and Intel actually have 32nm products out right now, even IBM hasn't sold anything on 32nm yet.
Are you sure? It seems that Apple already employs a 32nm A5 processor, so Samsung must be fabbing at this node.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ne_is_off.html
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Old 01-May-2012, 05:45   #5
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Are you sure? It seems that Apple already employs a 32nm A5 processor, so Samsung must be fabbing at this node.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ne_is_off.html
Samsung might be, but that would be the only exception I know of. IBMs gotta be close too.
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Old 01-May-2012, 21:02   #6
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The question for me assuming a ~170 sq.mm chip (cell+rsx) is would the two 128bits bus fit?
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Old 01-May-2012, 21:33   #7
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The question for me assuming a ~170 sq.mm chip (cell+rsx) is would the two 128bits bus fit?
If the rumor is true that sony is quickly moving toward TSVs... would it solve the problem to put the memory besides the chip on an interposer? Could save much on power consumption too. Maybe I'm dreaming but the next "slim" could be very small. I can see them continuing to shrink the PS3 to keep competing with the WiiU on price and size, and use the PS4 to compete against microsoft on power and core gaming.
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Old 01-May-2012, 22:37   #8
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The question for me assuming a ~170 sq.mm chip (cell+rsx) is would the two 128bits bus fit?
I'd be curious to see what the combined layout would be considering how RSX interfaces with Cell via the FlexIO. I mean, if you just look at the analog portions of Cell, they are only along two ends of the chip, not along the sides (thus leading to that wasted die space we've been seeing as it's been shrunk over the years, but that's beside the point).

Does that imply that RSX should be attached to the end of Cell (thus making for a long chip)? Can RSX even be laid out to fit that particular dimension?

Know what I mean?

Does Sony handle the design shrink for RSX or does nV do that? I'm curious about the tech collaborations involved here as well - does Sony have enough control over the RSX design to let IBM handle a die merger?

---------

At any rate, there was an article sometime last year that mentioned Sony had no plans for further die reductions. Everything in the link in the OP is really just wishful thinking at this point (i.e. assumptions upon assumptions).
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Old 02-May-2012, 06:48   #9
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At any rate, there was an article sometime last year that mentioned Sony had no plans for further die reductions.
Interesting! Could you find back the link?

ETA: Never mind, I guess you mean this post? http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=59567

And this one? http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=59568

Those suggestions to wait for 20nm or even 14nm seem rather odd if what Ninjaprime states is right -- Sony's fabs running behind so much. Unless indeed the benefits of a single shrink step have become prohibitively low.

Last edited by The Seventh Taylor; 02-May-2012 at 07:01.
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Old 02-May-2012, 08:23   #10
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Originally Posted by liolio View Post
The question for me assuming a ~170 sq.mm chip (cell+rsx) is would the two 128bits bus fit?
I doubt it. Would probably need some empty filler space. The smallest 256 bit bus I can think of is rv670 which was 192mm^2. The smallest 128 bit, since its really 128x2 was Redwood at 104mm^2, which would need 208mm^2.
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Old 02-May-2012, 08:31   #11
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Interesting! Could you find back the link?

ETA: Never mind, I guess you mean this post? http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=59567

And this one? http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=59568

Those suggestions to wait for 20nm or even 14nm seem rather odd if what Ninjaprime states is right -- Sony's fabs running behind so much. Unless indeed the benefits of a single shrink step have become prohibitively low.
NV seems to think its almost not worth their time to shrink to 20nm and they have large high end chips. Probably even less cost effective for lower end stuff. Sonys GPU fab was almost exactly one year behind TSMC, so I would say the earliest to expect that shrink(28nm), if it even proves cost effective, is the beggining of 2013. As far as 32nm Cell, shrinks for it have been worse and worse as they go smaller, I'm not sure it would even be worth it.
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Old 04-May-2012, 18:55   #12
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Isn't the current rumor that MS has an Xbox lite in the works which will be an Apple TV style device without an optical drive? Hopefully to be shown at E3...

I understand Sony's fab difficulties, but I think it is a question of MS eventually forcing Sony's hand into shrinking PS3 one way or another either through smaller chips, no bluray drive or combination.

For MS and Sony to take away the 360 and PS3 used game business by going all digital once they become legacy consoles after 720 and PS4 release makes a lot of sense.
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Old 04-May-2012, 20:00   #13
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Isn't the current rumor that MS has an Xbox lite in the works which will be an Apple TV style device without an optical drive? Hopefully to be shown at E3...
Well, some apparently believe it's the next-gen SoC. >_> But I digress. I've commented on that stuff elsewhere.

What makes the Cell seemingly hard to shrink is that they apparently need to adhere to the original layout/floorplan (to accommodate the SPEs/EIB/BEI/FlexIO), and that causes problems when you look at how it interfaces to RSX - there's going to need to be heavy redesign of RSX so that they can bolt it onto one of the sides of Cell (who knows if it's doable without a lot of dead space), and then there's additional design to take care of functional compatibility due to the shorter bus between Cell<->RSX, but then maybe they can just tweak the FlexIO speed and make it a moot point.

Don't forget that moving to a new node doesn't automagically bring cost reduction. 28/32nm are going to be more expensive for the near future, and that may not yet offset the good yields they already have at 40/45nm. It is going to be a big change - who knows if they have to move RSX to SOI as well...

MS had the advantage of starting out with smaller chips in the first place.


Quote:
I understand Sony's fab difficulties, but I think it is a question of MS eventually forcing Sony's hand into shrinking PS3 one way or another either through smaller chips, no bluray drive or combination.

For MS and Sony to take away the 360 and PS3 used game business by going all digital once they become legacy consoles after 720 and PS4 release makes a lot of sense.
You might want to start a new thread about this.
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Old 04-May-2012, 20:49   #14
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Is it an optical illusion, or is the EIB section of the die almost impossible to shrink?
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Old 04-May-2012, 21:09   #15
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I understand Sony's fab difficulties, but I think it is a question of MS eventually forcing Sony's hand into shrinking PS3 one way or another either through smaller chips, no bluray drive or combination.
Hirai's plan is to ditch PSX3 at the earliest possible date and go with PSX4(Orbis, whatever).

Sony's in a dire financial condition and Hirai's new rule is that.

1. All consoles hardware must be affordable at launch.
2. All consoles hardware must turn a profit at launch.
3. Hardware spec doesn't matter, content and UI experiences do.

Accordingly, money losing PSX3 will be discontinued upon the PSX4's launch.
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Old 04-May-2012, 21:32   #16
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Well, some apparently believe it's the next-gen SoC. >_> But I digress. I've commented on that stuff elsewhere.
Gotta link, I don't want to take the discussion off subject but would be glad to read your thoughts on it. Thanks for the other explanation even though it's over my tech grasp, at least I have a sense of the difficulties involved..

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Hirai's plan is to ditch PSX3 at the earliest possible date and go with PSX4(Orbis, whatever).

Sony's in a dire financial condition and Hirai's new rule is that.

1. All consoles hardware must be affordable at launch.
2. All consoles hardware must turn a profit at launch.
3. Hardware spec doesn't matter, content and UI experiences do.

Accordingly, money losing PSX3 will be discontinued upon the PSX4's launch.
Okay, but answer for me, if you're Sony what you do then about serving the bottom of the market that used to be filled by PS2? I just did a check of major retailers and PS2 is effectively discontinued and beginning to climb in price on ebay.. So, if you are Sony do you just hand over the $99 segment to MS with it's $99 subscription subsidized Xbox or Xbox mini box?

Sony still has to have an offering to serve the very low end of the market. That's why I say that even if they take the optical drive out of PS3 and sell it as a DD model to lower its price, they have to have a budget level console or risk losing exposure to the critical entry level segment of the market.
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Old 04-May-2012, 21:44   #17
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Originally Posted by Deadmeat View Post
Hirai's plan is to ditch PSX3 at the earliest possible date and go with PSX4(Orbis, whatever).

Sony's in a dire financial condition and Hirai's new rule is that.

1. All consoles hardware must be affordable at launch.
2. All consoles hardware must turn a profit at launch.
3. Hardware spec doesn't matter, content and UI experiences do.

Accordingly, money losing PSX3 will be discontinued upon the PSX4's launch.
Do you have a link for those outrageous statements, did Hirai really say this or is it an inside joke I didn't get?

The playstation division posted a $435.5 million profit for FY2011:
http://www.tssznews.com/2011/05/26/s...it-for-fy2011/

The PS3 have turned a profit since 2009:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/19621...rofitable.html

It's also been outselling or equalled the xbox360 for 4 out of the last 5 years. Why the heck would they stop selling it?

OMG, the xbox is losing money, they should discontinue the 360 as soon as possible!
http://www.edge-online.com/news/micr...es-229-million
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Old 04-May-2012, 21:56   #18
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Okay, but answer for me, if you're Sony what you do then about serving the bottom of the market that used to be filled by PS2?
The PSX4 fills that market segment. The PSX4 is a cheap console built with a cheap off-the-shelf Fusion APU and a $60 retail videocard(SCEI can get them for half the price). The PSX4 is a hardware designed to a specific cost-target, not to a specific performance-target.

To Hirai, it's all about profit margins, not technology.

Quote:
So, if you are Sony do you just hand over the $99 segment to MS with it's $99 subscription subsidized Xbox or Xbox mini box?
No, retail PSX4 for $199, which is doable without taking any loss.

Quote:
Sony still has to have an offering to serve the very low end of the market. That's why I say that even if they take the optical drive out of PS3 and sell it as a DD model to lower its price
The PSX4 motherboard is far cheaper to build than the PSX3 motherboard.

Should Hirai decide to remove the Blu-Ray drive and go all DD and cartridge, the prices can be $50 lower.
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Old 04-May-2012, 23:04   #19
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Originally Posted by east of eastside View Post
Gotta link, I don't want to take the discussion off subject but would be glad to read your thoughts on it. Thanks for the other explanation even though it's over my tech grasp, at least I have a sense of the difficulties involved..
Sent a PM since I forgot where I posted my thoughts/guesses.

edit:

http://forum.beyond3d.com/showpost.p...postcount=8624

http://forum.beyond3d.com/showpost.p...2&postcount=26

http://forum.beyond3d.com/showpost.p...postcount=9339

Wacky journalism conspiracy-to-get-clicks included. *ahem*
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Old 06-May-2012, 23:30   #20
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... 28nm, the next step after 40nm for GPUs...
Are nodes this strongly linked to the applications of ICs? Have GPUs skipped 45nm in favor of 40nm, and will they skip 32nm to go straight to 28nm? Whereas the Cell as CPU would go from 45nm to 32nm?
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Old 06-May-2012, 23:32   #21
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As far as 32nm Cell, shrinks for it have been worse and worse as they go smaller, I'm not sure it would even be worth it.
Worse in terms of yield?
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Old 06-May-2012, 23:34   #22
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Also, based on all that's written above, I wonder: If a die merger for Cell and RSX is this hard to realize (because of increasing cost, diminishing returns, lay-out difficulties, node & process differences, ownership of the IP, use of different foundries), would combining them in a single package as a SiP be a reasonable and feasible alternative? It would eliminate the need for them to be on the same node and the same process while I suppose it could still give substantial savings in PCB real estate, and consequently at set level, in logistics, etc.?

Last edited by The Seventh Taylor; 07-May-2012 at 00:29.
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Old 07-May-2012, 00:05   #23
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Are nodes this strongly linked to the applications of ICs? Have GPUs skipped 45nm in favor of 40nm, and will they skip 32nm to go straight to 28nm? Whereas the Cell as CPU would go from 45nm to 32nm?
It's not so much about the applications, but the foundries producing the devices. TSMC, which presently makes all the high end GPUs, uses the "half-node" shrinks as their flagship products. They had 40nm out very soon after 45, and they skipped 32nm alltogether. So products that come out from their primary production lines are now either 40nm or 28 nm. (They do have an active 45nm for low-power products). On the other hand, the Cell is produced at fabs belonging to the Common Platform group (IBM, GF, Samsung, others), which concentrate on the primary nodes, like 45nm and 32nm.

Note that moving products from a fab family to another is a very complicated and expensive process -- even though they sort of do the same stuff, they use various different technologies, and the differences typically mean that to go from GF to TSMC, you need to redesign you entire chip if you want to keep it fast.

Also, the nominal node does not tell the whole story. As I understand it, the Intel 32nm process is actually tighter for logic (but not SRAM) than the TSMC 28nm, so the names can be deceiving. Of course, Intel's processes generally seem to be built from magical fairy dust -- that's the only way to explain why they are so much better than their peers using the same technologies...
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Old 07-May-2012, 05:49   #24
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Worse in terms of yield?
Worse in terms of how much scaling they get from the shrink. EiB doesn't shrink very well at all. At 45nm, IBM was discussing what they could do with Cell at the 32nm shrink to make it not worthless to shrink it, one suggestion was double the local memory pools to 512k, which would increase performance in local-memory heavy tasks by 60% or more. However, this doesn't apply to PS3s Cell, as it has to stay at the defined performance and spec, which leaves them with all the problems IBM was trying to fix by changing the hardware on Cell, which, at least IBM thought at the time, made it pretty useless to shrink it.

Edit: To elaborate on the first part, here is a excellent article from Real World Tech: http://realworldtech.com/page.cfm?Ar...2508002434&p=3

Die size has only gone down by half in shrinks that should have reduced it by 4x, theoretically. Thats half as good as expected normal scaling.

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Old 07-May-2012, 06:17   #25
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The PSX4
Stop calling it PSX. Not even the original Playstation was called PSX; that was its pre-release development code-name (or so gaming press rumors say anyway.)

No playstation EVER has been called PSX.
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