IBM to manufacture Cell on 45nm SOI, Sony/Toshiba to move to 45nm bulk process

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by one, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. one

    one Unruly Member
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    The official announcement for the sale of advanced semiconductor plants at Sony to Toshiba has been made today. Along with that Sony's plan to the 45nm process has been announced too.

    Japanese PR
    http://www.sony.co.jp/SonyInfo/News/Press/200710/07-1018/07-1018.pdf

    1. Sony has reached an agreement with IBM to mass-produce Cell B.E. on 45nm SOI lines at IBM East Fishkill which will be adapted from current 65nm lines.

    2. Sony Group and Toshiba continue the cooperation for 45nm bulk process development. The new joint company will move the current 65nm process technology to 45nm for advanced semiconductors for games and digital appliances.

    Japanese PR
    http://www.sony.co.jp/SonyInfo/News/Press/200710/07-1018B/07-1018B.pdf

    300mm wafer lines at Nagasaki will be sold to Toshiba before March 2008. A new joint company to manufacture Cell and RSX will launch in April 2008 (Toshiba 60%, Sony 20%, SCE 20%). They manufacture 65nm semiconductors and continue to develop the 45nm process. Manufacturing lines at Oita are also bought by Toshiba.
     
  2. patsu

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    Nice ! Have been waiting for this news. Doesn't seem to indicate any high level timeline though :(

    I thought IBM is supposed to do an event to award the Cell programming competition winners soon (This month or next) ? They should also showcase the automated car. I am sure many are interested to see how well it perform for real.
     
  3. Titanio

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    English PR, fewer details but more quotes.

    http://www.japancorp.net/Article.Asp?Art_ID=15824

     
  4. one

    one Unruly Member
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    Followup news about the 32nm alliance
    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock News/792750/
     
  5. iceberg187

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  6. Titanio

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    No, it means they'd have nothing more to do with research on lower manufacturing processes...since they'll be getting others to do that manufacturing. So basically they'd be dependent on, say, Toshiba's and IBM's own work on those processes. They could and would still commission Toshiba and/or IBM to manufacture Cell at those lower processes...they'd just no longer be involved on research on those processes themselves.

    From the report and reading the Sony spokesperson's comments, I don't see the relevance of this to chip design itself (e.g. future Cell development), 'just' to manufacturing technologies.
     
  7. fireshot

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    I think Stringer is inching SCE away from any advanced semiconductor research.
     
  8. Arun

    Arun Unknown.
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    So their most likely path of integration is now RSX+Southbridge, rather than RSX+CELL, I guess. And then you'd eventually see RSX+Southbridge+CELL on Bulk 32nm, I guess. Makes sense.
     
  9. Titanio

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    And further, they've even clarified this themselves:

    http://today.reuters.com/news/artic...1_T348222_RTRUKOC_0_US-SONY-SEMICONDUCTOR.xml

    Which sounds a bit like it could refer to whatever is going in the next Playstation.
     
  10. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    I think the point of confusion is the phrase "R&D technology." A lot of folk might read that as overall semiconductor R&D, but in this case it's referring specifically to manufacturing process R&D. Which, is in line with what was prior reported anyway...
     
  11. Titanio

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    An interview with Yutaka Nakagawa, Sony Corp's executive deputy president and officer in charge of Semiconductor & Component Group, about these moves.

    http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20071108/142069/

    In short, he says the decision was taken because of a lack of products using Cell. Initially Sony intended to make their manufacturing capacity worthwhile by applying Cell in a number of areas, but in an interesting claim, he says intentions for multi-purpose use were spoiled because the chip was designed too tightly for games applications (something that's quite the opposite of what STI has claimed, and indeed, those who would question Cell's credentials as a chip for gaming ;)).

    Also, Sony will continue to produce Cell at their facility at the IBM plant in the US. They will also continue working with STI on 32nm process technologies through FY 08, but after that they will exit that agreement. They will, however, continue to R&D in this area in-house in order to support choices they make in the future regarding process technologies when contracting work out.
     
  12. Shifty Geezer

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    Not good for the future of Cell :(
     
  13. dobwal

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    Probably for the current chip we know as the "Cell", but Im sure there will be future chips that are derivatives of the current chip that will be designed and implement to work well within and who's costs are conducive to their specific enviroment.
     
  14. Shifty Geezer

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    The wording says the Sony bigwig thinks it was too console-centric in design. If he can't see the flexibility of the system, that's not going to change with other variants. Hence the whole drop in technology research. They don't see a large enough market for high-end technology. They don't see a market for Cell in other Sony products that'd warrant their own fabs to produce boatloads of Cell processors.

    If he was keen on using Cell in other devices, there'd have a reason to maintain volume output and invest in economies. That's not going to happen. I'd very much like to hear what he feels is wrong with the design, and how it's console centric.
     
  15. jonabbey

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    The XDR requirement?
     
  16. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Shifty I don't think it's bad news for Cell... at least no moreso than when Kutaragi lost control of semiconductors years ago to begin with. I think it's been well-established for some time that Sony would be filling their CE needs with less-expensive solutions. Plus to focus on CE would be to neglect that Cell has gained huge traction in HPC, and I don't think we'll be seeing it go away there anytime soon.

    Cell as it is is just too big/hot for most CE requirements; I think they were right that the strategy before at Sony under Kutaragi was "Cell first." Now - I don't think that's bad per se, but it hurts when corporate direction changes midway; so what they were left with was all the R&D and capital expense that went into developing a "one-for-all" architecture, but a move away from actually translating it to CE in favor of pursuing less risky avenues. Because it was a gamble to be sure from a costs perspective.

    Personally I'm pleased with where Cell's at in terms of expanding beyond gaming... I haven't been expecting it to make its way into Sony consumer electronics for some time now. If it happens, it'll be through Toshiba. In the meantime we'll be seeing the HPC version of Cell start shipping, Cell migrate down through to 45nm and beyond, and I think fairly likely a 'Cell 2' by the time PS4 comes around.
     
  17. Shifty Geezer

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    The lack of any downscaling of the architecture is disappointing though. Such a flexible architecture would have had a lot of potential, and the choice of alternative CE-specific ICs, though it clearly makes sense from a business perspective, means a simplified CE development situation is lost. One architecture for all devices here you could run the same unified interface and services seems a very strong selling point IMO to hook buyers into your brand. Where Sony's CE reach going so far in all directions, begin able to attract to always by Sony because of a unified experience would surely serve them extremely well.
     
  18. Kryton

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    I thought the idea was to stick this into BluRay players to do the decoding, TVs for color correction/features etc., instead of custom ICs. Hell, even a crippled Cell could probably do DVB decoding without struggling. They also already have a lot of this decoding/encoding software written.

    I'm guessing that the yields then aren't producing so many processors with defects, which we speculated would be recycled for other uses?
     
  19. Shifty Geezer

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    That kinda was the plan, but it sounds like Yutaka Nakagawa doesn't think Cell is suitable for that, without any explanation why it is unsuitable.
     
  20. fireshot

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    No doubt it is a blow for the Cell vision if Sony refuses to take a chance to mass produce a low cost version for their electronics. Think of the snowball effects for the Cell hardware and software development without a wider net being cast.
     
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