Monday, July 7, 2008

Sony Bets on New Graphics Chip to Cut PlayStation 3 Costs

The head of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. said at a press conference that the PlayStation 3 video game console would start to use graphics processors that are made using thinner process technology this Fall. In addition, he said, Sony plans to continue working on the PS3 machine in order to make it cheaper to manufacture, which may also mean lower end-user price eventually.

“The Cell and RSX used in PS3s at launch were manufactured using a 90nm process technology. And now all PS3 Cells have shifted to 65nm process technology since last holiday season. […] As for RSX [at] 65nm process technology, [the development and manufacturing] has begun this year already, and will be ready for installment in autumn,” said Kazuo Hirai, chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., reports Next-Generation web-site.

Earlier Sony denied that certain models of PlayStation 3 got Cell processor made using 65nm process technology last Fall.

The Nvidia RSX graphics processor that is used inside the PlayStation 3 initially cost Sony $129 to make and was the most expensive component inside the system. Usually due to yield increases and other optimizations the cost may be lowered dramatically; still, another 33% drop in manufacturing costs due to switch from 90nm process technology to 65nm fabrication process would definitely play a substantial role for Sony PlayStation 3.

Mr. Hirai stressed that Sony Computer Entertainment is committed to continue reducing the number of components and decreasing the size of chips inside the PlayStation 3, which may ultimately result in smaller video game system at a much lower price.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games as well as 40GB version that cannot play old games at all. The official prices of Sony PlayStation 3 40GB and 80GB in the USA are $399 and $499, respectively, European customers have to pay €399 ($630) and €499 ($787) for 40GB and 60GB models, respectively, whereas Japanese gamers can obtain PlayStation 3 40GB for ¥39 980 ($376 or €238).

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