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Sony & Toshiba Disclose Cell Fab Plans 138

Posted by timothy
from the bit-factories dept.
sean23007 writes "InfoWorld is running an article about Sony and Toshiba's plans for new fabrication plants to build the 'Cell' chip jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM for use in the Playstation 3 and other home entertainment uses. The new fabs will be located in Nagasaki and Oita, and both companies plan to spend $1.7 billion over the next 3-4 years in their construction. They will be capable of using 300 mm wafers with a 65 nm process. The chip is slated to be the first 1 teraflop consumer device."
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Sony & Toshiba Disclose Cell Fab Plans

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another article elsewhere already reported that this chip would not be available in time for use in the Playstation 3. - NCDave
  • by BancBoy (578080) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:53PM (#5774517)
    According to IGN anyhow... To quote - Online news sites are reporting that the spring 2003 issue of Electronic Design Chain, an electronics trade magazine, features PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi on the cover, and also contains very surprising news about the Playstation 3. According to the reports, Kutaragi mentions that final production of the "Cell" chip, originally thought to be used in the PlayStation 3, may not be ready until 2007. He also confirms that the CPU in the PlayStation 3 will in fact not be the Cell processor, contrary to earlier reports. With a targeted PlayStation 3 launch in 2005/2006, delayed production of the Cell processor may have caused Sony to find a different solution for their next-generation console.
    • All i have been hearing is
      cell,cell,cell,cell,ce,cell,cell,cellll,cell,cel l,cell,cell,cell,ce,cell,cell,cellll,cell,,cell,ce ll,cellcell,cell,cell,cell

      And now it wont be in the new Ps3!

      Another example of the media buying into everything HOOK , LINE and Sinker!

      We are fricking idiots. Don't trust what the game companies say but look at their actions.

  • 2007 Then (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Josuah (26407) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:53PM (#5774522) Homepage
    I guess this answers all of the speculative questions on when the PS3 will be able to come out. If Toshiba needs four years for its 65nm production lines, then 2007 is the earliest point that wafers could start coming off the line. So Christmas 2007? Looks like the PS2 still has a very long life ahead of it.
    • Hm. I just saw those other comments about not using the Cell in the PS3. Guess that's what I get for not buying all those gaming magazines.
    • Re:2007 Then (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sigep_ohio (115364)
      i don't think microsoft will wait until 2007 to release Xbox2. Nor will nintendo wait that long to replace the gamecube. I would say that cell will not be in the PS3. More likely sony will put say 2 emotion chips in the same box and in a way double the processing power of the current PS2. this would be a good stop gap before the Cell processor is ready.
      • Re:2007 Then (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GweeDo (127172)
        This would be one of the worst things Sony could imagine doing. The EE (emotion engine) is already massively parallel and a pain the butt to program for since you have to have so many things synced. Double that you are asking to kill off programmers as they try and work. The Gamecube and the Xbox have proven to developers that it can be easy to develop for a console as well as be powerful. The design behind the PS2 was bad bad bad...Sony had 2 generations on the top...the PS3 might be their N64....
      • Why not just take the existing EE, produce it with a modern technology (90nm) and push the clockspeed a bit.

        The EE will wipe the floor with any x86-design at a similar clockrate. Microsoft would have to wait another 2 years (again - just like with XBox1) to play catch up with XBox2. No way they can put out something similar at the same time.

        • I wouldn't assume that even 90nm is as all set and ready to roll. Just because Infineon has already sold it to SMIC doesn't mean it's yesterday's news.
          I read an article on EETimes last year where a researcher claimed to be finding an average of a few dozen bad circuits caused by mask problems in 130nm chips that were being cleared by fabs. He seemed to think that this problem was going to increase exponentially as processes were scaled down.
          That doesn't mean it doesn't work, it's just that yiel
    • Considering Sony has updated the PS2 numerous times since the original, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up re-releasing it with the Cell chip just to screw with people's minds.
    • It's also noted in the article that they're moving the PS2 chip to 90nm later this year, which gives the capability of 4 (rather than 2) Mbytes of RAM on-board. The Sony plant is supposed to be 3 years (not 4) so I guess Xmas 2006...

      Perhaps a PS2.5 ? Maybe with 2 emotion chips on them ?

      What gives the PS2 so much power is the DSP-like vector units, (2 per emotion engine), although what gives the vector units a lot of their power is the fast direct (DMA) link to the graphics system (which presumably wouldn'
      • That part about the memory is weird, since the original PS2's GS already has [absolute-playstation.com] 4 megs of RAM on the same silicon die. That's used for the frame- and depthbuffers, and to hold the texture being used to render each polygon.
  • i expect that there will be lots of sony consumer electronics (dvd players, entertainment systems) embedded with ps3 technology. scea has been fighting to keep the ps series as a game console only, but MS is forcing them to integrate the ps3 with dvd/music/internet technology...

    conversely, sometimes i wonder if MS is striving to be the north american Sony (tablet pc, xbox, windows ce, keyboards, mice, etc...)
    • I always got the impression that Sony wanted to go the integrated home electronics route way before MS entered the game. I mean the original PS was always able to play music CD's if i recall correctly. Then PS2 was in developement before MS ever got in the video game business. So many of its capabilities have been in since the begining I am sure.

      Plus, Sony would love to be able to cheaply manufacture and sell at their usually high markups, one box that can be a PVR(whose abilities they would control), d
      • I mean the original PS was always able to play music CD's if i recall correctly.

        So could the TurboGrafx CD, the Sega CD, the CD-i, the 3DO, and the Saturn. Had Sony not included Red Book CD audio playing in the original PlayStation, PSX buyers would have felt cheated.

    • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:16PM (#5774699)
      scea has been fighting to keep the ps series as a game console only, but MS is forcing them to integrate the ps3 with dvd/music/internet technology...

      More like the reverse. Sony always wanted to be a hub. MS saw that if this thing became a hub, the (relatively) cheap game console could become an alternative to a real PC, therefore an alternative to MS. Coudn't have that, came out with XBox.
  • 32 MB? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:56PM (#5774551)
    With 1 Teraflop of processing power, I hope it'll come with more than 32MB RAM this time.
  • by Ra5pu7in (603513) <ra5pu7in.gmail@com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:56PM (#5774555) Journal
    Why are only Sony and Toshiba reported? Does IBM not plan to produce and Cell chips or do they already have fab facilities?
  • by jayratch (568850) <slashdot@@@jayratch...com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:02PM (#5774605) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but this conversation somehow went past me.

    Where in the article does any reference to wireless phones occur? And where in reality does a teraflop processor have its place in a phone?

    The real question here for us ignorami like myself is, how will this processor stack up against PC processors- and will it run Linux?

    Joking aside- and Beowulf clusters aside- this sounds like it could be a good idea for a versatile chip. If Toshiba's involved my guess is it will not be just for PS3, perhaps we'll now have another major plaer (or two) in the PC chip market? Hmm, Sony and Toshiba, leading laptop manufacturers, making their own chips. It's like Microsoft making keyboards and mice, I suppose, but perhaps better.

    Just my .02
    • duh to myself.. plus at 65 nm for better power efficiency? sounds like a laptop chip to me.
    • Where in the article does any reference to wireless phones occur? And where in reality does a teraflop processor have its place in a phone?

      Want a cellular phone, but don't have anyone to talk to? NO PROBLEM! Our new TeraFlop SCS micro-cellular phone has the processing power to allow you to carry on a conversation with just your phone, with no need to make friends or actually connect to anyone! Amaze your friends by carrying on a conversation on your TFlop SCS while 600 feet underground! Best of all,

    • Where in the article does any reference to wireless phones occur? And where in reality does a teraflop processor have its place in a phone?

      This has nothing to do with cellular phones. The article refers to the processor rumored to be used in Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console.

      The name spawns from the fact that the Cell processor is to be designed so that several chips can work together, forming a larger processing entity. The individual chips being the cells, that is.
  • cost justification (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ih8apple (607271) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:05PM (#5774623)
    I used to work for Intel in the Fab automation software department and I find it hard to believe they're can justify investing this much to start up new fabrication plants for an unproven product.

    Usually, with initial chip production at this scale, they lease out fab production time from other companies. Only huge production plans (like Pentiums or PowerPCs) generally justify building entire new Fabs. Plus, with the world economy slow, there's plenty of capacity at the world's fabs. Here's a good article on fab capacity [reuters.com]
    • by sigep_ohio (115364) <drinking@seven.am.is.bad> on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:15PM (#5774691) Homepage Journal
      Well with the number of PS2's that have sold so far worldwide, I guess Sony thinks the demand for Cell will be even bigger. I know Cell won't be in the PS3, but since it is a scalar architecture it can be placed in anything from cell phones to video game machines to computers. This makes the market for Cell even larger than that of a Pentium or PowerPC or The Emotion Engine in PS2.
    • by watzinaneihm (627119) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:15PM (#5774697) Journal
      Atleast some part of the decision may be due to the culture of Sony
      Sony (the original one, not their music division) have always been about making a product and then finding a market for it. They pride themselves on being the lone-wolves and hence came up with a lot of products which are completely non-standard (unless the world accepted their standards)the oft used betaMax being a good candidate. Sony's memory products today are a good example, they are tiny but are not interchangeable with others (not all prodcuts, but there are examples like their USB cables etc.) .A completely new chip for a game machine seems to fit right in, compared to MicroSoft moving to Celerons.
      But then again they used to be able to come up with a product so good that they opened up whole new markets.
      This post is partially based on a reading of "Made in Japan" by Akio morita, and I understand that decisions of Billions are not always decided by the "culture" of a company.
    • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:17PM (#5774706) Homepage Journal
      Usually, with initial chip production at this scale, they lease out fab production time from other companies.

      True, but what fab has the capabilities to produce the 65nm parts that they require for the chip? AFAIK, there aren't any current fabs that could produce the chips they want (at least not in volume).
    • by sterno (16320) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#5774782) Homepage
      Even if this chip's architecture turns out to be a dud, they'll have plants ready to produce 65 nanometer processors. Eventually they'll have some chips running at 65 nanometers, and they'll have a fab ready to produce it. Worst case scenario is that they can sell their fab capabilities to other companies that want to run at 65 nanometers. The odds that these plants won't have a long run value seems pretty small to me.
      • Even if this chip's architecture turns out to be a dud, they'll have plants ready to produce 65 nanometer processors. Eventually they'll have some chips running at 65 nanometers, and they'll have a fab ready to produce it.

        Thats what they think. In reality, everyone will skip right by the 65 nanometer process to the 63 nanometer process. Its much better. If Sony and Toshiba were really forward-thinking, they would be working on building 42 nanometer fabs. As everyone knows, that will be the answer to ev

    • If youve worked in a CPU fab plant, I wonder why you would hate apple, with their PowerPC choice over x86... ...does Intel still monitor your slashdot posts? :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I find it hard to believe that you know anything about the economics of the semi-industry. Semicondutor manufacturers build a Fab to support a process, not a product. The need to expand the manufacturing capacity for a particular process might be predicated on the demand for a family of devices. That is not usually the case with Fabs designed for new processes. And not the case here. Just because the new processes will be needed for the viable production of the Cell chip, which potentialy will be a big mone
      • Japan, Inc. in general is sitting on WADS of cash, with little place to put it that seems even worthwhile right now. Buying a new fab is as good as anything else. It's certainly better than building unused office space or whatever else japan has been doing lately. They want to dump shaky petrodollars and own tangible *stuff* that you can actually do work with, not think about making a plan to form a committee to design a thought process that might lead to establishing a think tank to contemplate how to trad
    • They won't use the fab solely for this product. Sony isn't stupid and they make a ton of different chips and ICs. The fab will have capabilities to build the cell but it will also be able to fab parts for camcorders and DVD players, PS2s and such.
  • PS3 idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by RealErmine (621439) <commerce@ w o r d h o le.net> on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:08PM (#5774640)
    They should just transcribe the Final Fantasy combat system into a hardware implementation. That's the only reason people buy these things anyway.

    I propose that the limit break be implemented by some sort of register overflow.

    They should do this in the Cell chips that are rumored, in the future, to be deployed in various home appliances. I, for one, would be impressed when my dryer finishes the tumble cycle and then performs a super-attack on the toaster.
    • Re:PS3 idea (Score:4, Funny)

      by photon317 (208409) on Monday April 21, 2003 @03:15PM (#5775123)

      Hey! I bought mine for Gran Turismo. I'd rather see a dedicated hardware implementation of that (oh wait, I already have one of those in my garage...).
      • Nonono, it's all about "Grand Theft Auto".

        I guess I potentially can get the hardware implementation of that, but I'm kinda scared.

        Though I am more waterproof than the stuff in the game.

        • Heh, I got the hardware implementation of that two weeks ago, but I was on the wrong end of it :(

          Luckily I got my cfar back a week later - the dumbass got away cleanly, but then proceeded to steal about $500 worth of crap from the inside and then leave the car on the side of the road somewhere. If I were him it would've been in a chop-shop somewhere for parts money.
      • Me too! The only thing I'd rather see in a game like that is support for a clutch pedal on the aftermarket steeringwheel/pedal controllers...
    • You can put in a hardware implementation of all the stereotypical character types too. Moody Teenage Hero, Overly Happy Tomboy, Gruff Loner, Tough-but-Eventually-Helpless Love Interest...

      Talk about "Emotion Engine".
    • Hahaha.

      FFNow!(TM) processor extensions. I wonder if you'll be able to compile PS3 Linux apps with those optimizations?
    • They should just transcribe the Final Fantasy combat system into a hardware implementation. That's the only reason people buy these things anyway.

      Yeah, that's it. 50 Million Final Fantasy players can't be wrong.

  • Who knew? (Score:3, Funny)

    by psyconaut (228947) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:14PM (#5774686)
    That the move to 65nm fabrication would be due to the machine that'll be running a to-be-released version of Grand Theft Auto and not some military system or huge scientific cluster ;-)

    -psy
    • Ah, but that is the power of a market economy, if demand exists, someone will meet it if it is thought to be profitable. Since it turns out millions of people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to beat up a virtual 'ho with a virtual 'bat, companys not only meet demand, but are forced to use the most cutting edge product to stay ahead of thier competitors.
    • In related news, I hear that the military has decided to try out this new technology they heard about called the "transistor". If tests go as planned, they plan to phase out all vacuum tubes by the end of this century.

      Really, where did the idea come from that our military has these super-advanced systems? Sure, they've got a lot of money, but they also have decade-plus testing regimens before they actually use anything.
  • I'd not before seen "Fab" used for fabricating plant, but I did know the "fab" as a sort of 3-d fax machine that re-creates solid objects (in shape anyway). It laser-scans the original, and creates a solid copy (corn starch?) at the receiving end.

    The item title gave me visions of a new breed of cell phone that could spew solid objects.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:49PM (#5774909)

    http://www.designchain.com/coverstory.asp?issue= sp ring03
  • by mnmn (145599) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:52PM (#5774930) Homepage

    And so does including memory and GPU with the CPU. You could imagine the desktop computer market for these babies.... if released with Linux.

    Thinking of that, I wonder if they would allow hookup to a DVI connector, or replacing the BIOS, or adding PCI/ISA slots, or even producing whole chips for third party taiwanese boards that would then be built into workstations. If the chip is up to the spec, on time and reasonably priced, theres already a big Linux-based market for it, meself included. Saddams gotta steal only a FEW of these to build nukes. Wonder if an anarchist teen could do that with this christmas present.
    • I would be really impressed by the Cell processor if it were released today, or even by 2005. However, will this CPU be anything of note in 2007? Intel has, as of late, been very aggressive in shrinking transistor size. By 2007, they may have the 65nm process licked and then some.

      Cell may be more of a threat to Transmeta depending on its power consumption.

      As for anarchist teens, I'll bet they'll play Grand Theft Auto 6 just like all the other teens. They may be using it as a training simulator though.
  • Anyone know what type of process will be used to get 65 nm lines? They make a vague reference to a process designed by three or four companies. I figure that at 65nm we're beyond DUV. EUV maybe? How small can traditional laser lithography get us?

  • Let's call it HYPEware.
    All the game console companies sell it too. Remember all the things Sony said that ps2 could do ?

    Real life looking characters!
    128 bit processing ! Wow.
    Supercool demos.
    Wait one second. Alot of the Ps2 game aren't anywhere near as good looking Sony said they would be.

    Don't get fooled . I will check the games before i believe the hype about how the processor can do so many trillions of polygons and how well it does textures.

  • If this baby runs linux or windoze, I think all the scientific research based on distributed computing ie. SETI@home and Foldings@Home can replace all their server farm with a bunch of PS3s. Each work unit can probably be processed within seconds. Drool.
  • Nagasaki hmmm

    What kind of halflife will the PS3's have?

    ===Insert Quality Sig Here===
  • The Cell chip could function as a super microcontroller. For anyone who likes to build robots this could represent a huge leap forward. If it could be connected to some type of flash ram we might be able to home build bots with speech recognition and neural nets. The cell should give new bots more on board intelligence. Let's hope they aren't too expensive (under $500?).

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