Playstation 3 supported by Foxconn
According to the Taiwan Economic News on 6 July 2002, the Taiwanese electronics giant Hon Hai
Precision Industry Co. Ltd. (FoxConn) is aiming at joint development with Sony for the Playstation
3 console. Foxconn president Terry Guo announced that Foxconn, which is the largest privately held
company in Taiwan for its turnover, has formed a Research & Development team for PlayStation 3
with Sony. [Taipei, July 6 2002]
PS3 console to be released in 2005
Japanese media reported on May 6th that the PS3 console is in development. The goal is to make
new processor technology, called "grid" about 200x faster than current console technology. This is
almost achieving their original goal of making the PS3 1000(!) times faster than the PS2. This goal
was publically set by Mr Okamoto, the Senior VP and Chief Technical Officer of Sony Computer
Entertainment, at the 2002 Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California.
The Cell - Power for Playstation 3 and ...more!
The heart of the Playstation3 will be a new chip (or rather chip set) developed by Sony, Toshiba,
and IBM. The companies will collectively invest more than $400 million in the next five years to
design a "supercomputer-on-a-chip" for the PS3. The name for this technology is "grid" (formerly
called "cell") and appears to be targeted squarely at the possibilities of parallel and distributed
computing over the internet. Grid computing is a variation of distributed computing, and
presumably involves networked game machines sharing software, processing power and data.
Okamoto also said that networking applications including downloadable software would be integral
to Sony's Playstation3 console. A recent report (May 5 2002) from the Japanese News Agency
Kyodo said that the Playstation 3 would work over superfast fiber optics connections and would be
Sony's first console to run games without a digital video disc. Sony also is considering offering the
new chip to other companies for use in televisions and electronics equipment, Kyodo said.
Code-named "Cell," the new microchips will employ the world's most advanced research technologies and
chip-making techniques, including copper wires, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) transistors and low-K dielectric
insulation, with features smaller than 0.10 microns -- 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. The result will be
consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer, operate at low power and
access the broadband Internet at ultra high speeds. Cell will be designed to deliver "teraflops" of processing
Richard Doherty, an analyst for Envisioneering, Seaford, N.Y., said that PS3 will not have a graphics
engine as we know it. Instead, the Cell's architecture is likely to replace the traditional game
console graphics processor model on which the Xbox and Gamecube are based, that use NVidia and
ATI GPUs, respectively. The Playstation 3, as well as other applications that will use the Cell, will
take advantage of the CPU's "self healing" capability. "Self-healing computers will be programmed
not to go down," Doherty said. "Bus and processor areas are automatically corrected using a new
meshed era redundancy technology." The Cell's compression engine, for example, will use a
multi-processor engine to reconstruct missing pixels or other missing features due to glitches in a
streaming PS3 game or video.
Playstation3 architecture revealed
TSOURCES SAID that the architecture of the Sony Playstation3 is patently clear
when you've found the US patent that it filed September 26th last year.
A reliable source close to Sony's plans explained the way the Playstation3 works to
He said that the computers are made of cells, each one containing a CPU, which will
probably be a PowerPC, and eight APUs (vectorial processors) each with 128K of
It will run at 4GHz, producing a not inconsiderable 256Gflops, with the cells
connected to the central 64MB memory through a switched 1024 bit bus.
It's still not clear how many of these "cells" will be used in the Playstation3, but Sony
reckoned some time ago it could be as many as one teraflop, probably making it a
four cell architecture.
Optical links – perhaps even FireWire optical links – could be used to share
The Playstation3 architecture is similar to the Playstation 2 but with some
improvements, such as a larger number of VPUs, each with more memory. The
operating system, too, is much improved.
But Playstations will still be very complex to program well, although it's just as well
that Sony doesn't want to take the Microsoft DirectX route.
This is a diagram of the system which is filed in the US Patents and Trademarks
Office, and snapped from there, with acknowledgements:
Sony said this week that it would begin mass-producing its next-generation Cell chips,
destined for the PlayStation 3 and other consumer electronics, by the latter half of 2005.
The company also said it was beginning production on a new chip for the PlayStation 2 that
would lower manufacturing costs, although the savings might not necessarily make their way
to consumers right away.
Sony is planning to first install a test production line for the Cell chip in Nagasaki Prefecture.
Ultimately, along with sister company Sony Computer Entertainment, it is planning to invest
£1bn, or about $1.6bn, in a full manufacturing plant there, Sony executives said at an event in
Japan this week.
The Cell chip, planned to be a thousand times more powerful than the PS2's processor, will be
built using a 65-nanometre process and 300mm silicon wafers, according to Sony.
In order to increase its performance, Cell will boast a multicore architecture, in which a single
chip may contain several stacked processor cores.
Since early 2001, Sony Computer Entertainment, IBM and Toshiba have teamed to develop
Cell, touted as a "supercomputer on a chip". Elements of its design are expected in future
server chips from IBM.