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Report: Cell/B.E. to be Used in PlayStation 4

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 24 comments

Could Sony be planning on using an upgraded Cell/B.E. in the PlayStation 4?

When looking at the three major home gaming consoles on the market today, the Sony PlayStation 3 packs the most advanced hardware. Utilizing the Cell processor, a joint venture between Sony, IBM, and Toshiba, the PS3 out-muscles both the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360 from Microsoft. While this doesn’t necessarily mean it will have the best library of games or highest sales numbers, it’s nice knowing you’re the only console on the block that offers a Blu-ray drive as well as a processor that’s still considered advanced even several years after release.

So advanced, in fact, that Sony may use it for the brains of its next console. The PlayStation 4, expected to be on store shelves sometime in 2011, will use a slightly upgraded Cell processor, according to unverified reports. With an expected core increase from 8 to 12, the new Cell chip will maintain something close to its current 3.2 GHz clock speed. The next Cell will also be based on the newest manufacturing tech, 45 nanometers, and could use a variation of DDR3 memory. The PS3 uses Rambus XDR memory, which is exceptionally fast, but also hits the wallet pretty hard. According to Electronista, Sony may get around the speed problem with DDR3 by grafting it directly onto the Cell processor, eliminating a lot of latency.

The move to a smaller and more robust Cell chip seems logical, but even if Sony decides to return to the drawing board with the PS4, the next Cell chip is still being worked on by Sony and friends, so look for it to end up in other devices like HD-friendly laptops. However, by the time 2011 rolls around, the Cell may be down to something even smaller than 45nm...perhaps 32nm or 22nm may be the magic number.

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  • 2 Hide
    timaahhh , October 1, 2008 1:46 AM
    Hopefully the next Cell has a stronger PowerPC core perhaps a dual or quad PowerPC based core will make developers more inclined to developer for the PS4.

    DDR3 is prolly the way to go. I'm not sure what the article means when it says "Sony may get around the speed problem with DDR3 by grafting it directly onto the Cell processor, eliminating a lot of latency". Does that mean a DDR3 memory controller or like a DDR3 L3 cache?

    Anyways hopefully we see something a bit more practical to develop for right outta the gate. The Cell is really interesting though.
  • 0 Hide
    frozenlead , October 1, 2008 2:12 AM
    I think they mean that they're putting the memory right onto the processor board. That thing will be huge.

    Does a measly console need all this power? I think it's just bragging rights for sony.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2008 2:24 AM
    PowerXCell 32iv.... Look it up
  • 1 Hide
    Ryun , October 1, 2008 2:46 AM
    The Rambus memory? Geeze... I didn't think anyone used that anymore. Shame the chipset/Cell processor is designed to use only that. I bet Sony could shave off at least $50-100 off the PS3 if they could just use a vairant of DDR.
  • 0 Hide
    reichscythe , October 1, 2008 3:27 AM
    @Frozenlead- I totally agree, I mean, what's really the point of all this theoretical horsepower? At the end of the day, after all the hype finally abated, did PS3's cell really change this generation's gaming landscape? Did the "oh-so-advanced" Cell processor completely usher in the promised wave of True HD console gaming (1920X1080 @ minimum sustained 30FPS)? Did the PS3's oft touted processing superiority yield the parallel processing supremacy of the 9000 GeForce line or the 4800 Radeon series, released merely one cycle later? Does the much vaunted Cell architecture take the performance crown away from a $600 PC with quad core processor and a decent video card? Did all those potent number-crunching specs mean a tossed fig to the vast legions who passed over Sony's box for the last-gen-hardware-tech Wii?
  • 1 Hide
    invlem , October 1, 2008 3:49 AM
    This is all fine and dandy, but I hope they consider a massive overhaul on the graphics chipset.

    As good as the cell may be, and yes there's no denying its much more powerful than the CPU of the X360. The reason why the consoles are throwing such even punches at each other is that the cell is being held back by the PS3's graphics chip.

    The 360 has a weaker processor but a reasonably matched graphics chip.
    The PS3 has a behemoth processor with similarily (slightly less powerful) graphics chip.

    The result? Both consoles are equally powerful when gaming is considered (these are consoles afterall, gaming should be the main consideration).

    Unless you properly distribute a system's power, it will be limited by its weakest component, we as computer users know this full well. A graphics card can cripple the performance of the best CPU in games, and vise versa.
  • 1 Hide
    spiralsun1 , October 1, 2008 3:58 AM
    This is dum. They are trying to make like PC hobbyists... but they are not. These consoles are no-frills, limited PC's for technical and financial dummies. What about the graphics processor? AHA! gotcha!
  • 0 Hide
    aznguy0028 , October 1, 2008 5:07 AM
    even if the new "cell" is 22nm, it ain't gonna save the playstation without a good library of games. raw horsepower is such a stupid way to go, you need more diverse game playstation...hope you have fun getting your a$$ handled to you by the wii.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , October 1, 2008 5:41 AM
    AznGuy0028even if the new "cell" is 22nm, it ain't gonna save the playstation without a good library of games. raw horsepower is such a stupid way to go, you need more diverse game playstation...hope you have fun getting your a$$ handled to you by the wii.

    Then again, you could also make the point that the Wii is a success despite its library, which isn't exactly chock full of goodness and nirvana. There are a few great titles (mainly the old, established Nintendo franchises) and then tons and tons of steaming crap. The appeal of the system is for "casual" gamers, which in this case seems to be people who rarely even play video games but like to pick up the wiimote when visiting a friend's house.
  • 0 Hide
    aznguy0028 , October 1, 2008 7:20 AM
    i guess from my point of view, what the wii did that the ps3 didn't was change gaming into a new perspective. young/old people all enjoy the wii because it is like a social event when you can play tennis/bowling on your screen and getting somewhat of an exercise from it. the ps3 is like every generation of consoles before it, more power, better graphics, same controller. i'm neither a wii fan or a ps3 fan, but wii did something that no one ever did and was a success.
  • -2 Hide
    giovanni86 , October 1, 2008 10:00 AM
    The Wii is a piece of shit. Even if i had one, its like me playing my playstation one all over again. Sure new games, but i feel like I've seen this technology for the last 10 years. The Wii got ppl to finally realize you can actually move a controller and it will do what you want it to do. And the only other reason it sold was because of its price!!! But graphically speaking the Wii is just a terrible gaming console for those who are looking for a new experience and not a short thrill that sooner or later you will find that the 360 controller or PS3 make a lot of sense and feel 100% better then possibly trying the same game with a whack ass controller as the Wii mote. I think the only reason the Wii does so well is its Fan base, and why so many ppl own it is because its just great to have one if you have more then like 4 ppl who want to play it. Beyond on that, the PS3 and 360 are matched in best respects, in some games you can see a better texture coming off on the PS3, NVIDIA! The way its meant to be played. But beyond that they are even, processing power is one thing, now they need a GPU that will last as long as the processor can, geeez. Glad i switched back to PC gaming, from the looks of it PS4 will just be a PS3 update but the name will switch with just a few minor fixes. If analysts are correct nxt gen might hit around 2012 or 2014.
  • 0 Hide
    miltoxbeyond , October 1, 2008 10:31 AM
    The introduction of DDR memory either means they'll save money on the PS4 or give more memory so developers have more room to work with... The latter is the more probable outcome.

    But wasn't Sony talking all about how their hardware was designed to last them 10 years?
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , October 1, 2008 11:02 AM
    miltoxbeyondThe introduction of DDR memory either means they'll save money on the PS4 or give more memory so developers have more room to work with... The latter is the more probable outcome.But wasn't Sony talking all about how their hardware was designed to last them 10 years?

    The graphic chip will be outdated even if cell is still very powerful. Besides, PS2 is still around 8 years after release
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2008 2:02 PM
    Microsoft will not let Sony wait that long. Pie-chen.
    That was an absurd statement from Sony considering they had
    very powerful competition (Microsoft). And we all know MS does NOT
    like to lose.
  • 0 Hide
    reddozen , October 1, 2008 2:48 PM
    From a post regarding PowerXCell 32iv:
    IBM's Cell roadmap includes a PowerXCell 32iv, which appears to feature four PPEs (Power Processor Elements) and 32 SPEs, ie four Cell chips running in parallel.

    As a game developer, this gives me a hard on. People can say what they want about the cell processor, but for encoding and decoding data, and general game engine handling, it's a great processor. It was never developed with PC computing in mind, so comparing it with PC components and processors is a waste of time. The one thing that the PS4 needs is a larger cell (IE: PowerXCell 32iv), and a better graphics engine. Since AMD and IBM have a technology agreement, I don't see why an APU on the cell wouldn't be a potential possibility with a built in high speed graphics core. We'll have to wait 3~4 years to find out for sure what Sony has cooking...

    Intel Quad vs. Cell (video encoding)
    http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/37845/135/

    A standard PC processor can't keep up with a cells data throughput, but a cell can't handle the mass OOP general processing of a PC processor.
  • 0 Hide
    coldmast , October 1, 2008 5:04 PM
    I would like to see 2GB GDDR5/DDR5 shared between video and cpu at the very least when this thing is released 3 years from now.

    this is still very early in the game we might see flip-flopping on certain specs, originally the cell was supposed to be pushing 4GHz.

    hopefully they simplify the design, I like just to see a simple monolith black box, I wouldn't mind the thing having a HEPA-filter to keep the dust out as well.
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , October 1, 2008 5:59 PM
    Well I would like to see HD Playstation... A playstation 3 or 4 in normal Hifi size enclosure. (IMHO I am more interest in playsation as an blue ray player than a game console. So more highend hifi style appearance would make it better suited for my taste.)
  • 0 Hide
    Master Exon , October 1, 2008 8:43 PM
    Cell in PS4?

    Moar like PS3.5!
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , October 1, 2008 11:32 PM
    invlemThis is all fine and dandy, but I hope they consider a massive overhaul on the graphics chipset.As good as the cell may be, and yes there's no denying its much more powerful than the CPU of the X360. The reason why the consoles are throwing such even punches at each other is that the cell is being held back by the PS3's graphics chip.The 360 has a weaker processor but a reasonably matched graphics chip.The PS3 has a behemoth processor with similarily (slightly less powerful) graphics chip.The result? Both consoles are equally powerful when gaming is considered (these are consoles afterall, gaming should be the main consideration).Unless you properly distribute a system's power, it will be limited by its weakest component, we as computer users know this full well. A graphics card can cripple the performance of the best CPU in games, and vise versa.


    This is almost all correct except the 360 actually has a much more powerful GPU.

    The PS3 has a nVidia 7900GTX based GPU where the 360 has the R500. Its not simply a derivative of the X1950XT though, as it has some technologies that are very close to the R600 (HD2900).

    But the PS3 has a lot of power through Cell, and Cell itself can be very hot but keeps cooler since the GPU offloads a lot of the work for the graphics.

    PS4 may be planned now but I am doubting it will be anything like what they are planning as 3 years is a lot of time and by 2011 Intel is expected (AMD as well probably) to have 16-32core + CPUs, Sandy Bridge, and probably running them on the 22nm process node as well.
  • 2 Hide
    Master Exon , October 2, 2008 2:23 PM
    Both the 360 and PS3 "CPUs" suck. Terribly. Seriously. One is watered down 3-core ****, the other is meant for more VPU/audio/GigaFLOPs than Gaming.

    Both of them struggle at 720p. That's 1280x720. That resolution is smaller than the smallest resolution on Tom's hardware's recent video card comparison site. If that doesn't say something about the consoles...
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