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PS3: The Story So Far
Written By: Christopher Coey

The general idea has always been for Sony to release a new console system every five years. Sony president Ken Kutraragi feels the company is on track, and that PS3 will be ready for 2005 release.

Industry analysts estimate that over $400 million will be spent by Sony, along with new partners Toshiba, and IBM working together the next few year to design a "supercomputer-on-a-chip." Code-named "Cell", the new technology is as yet fully developed. The three companies hope to use "Cell Technology" in nearly all of their future consumer electronic devices, including cell-phones, televisions, personal computers, and gaming consoles.

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 power.

What that means is, if the new chip is able to perform "teraflops", or 1 trillion calculations per second, it would clock in at roughly 100 times the speed of a single Pentium 4 chip running at 2.5GHZ.

To reach even further heights, the cell chips can interact with each other for even more processor power. Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering Group says "It’s like a beehive—Cell components can also be ganged together."

Sony hopes to combine chips from individual PS3s in a "grid", with other consoles over the internet, or locally from other consumer electronics devices to divide computing tasks among networked machines. A console containing cell technology could combine to share processing power with a Cell-powered high-definition television to render the graphics of an animated movie, or other real-time graphical applications.

IBM hopes to begin manufacturing Cell-chips in late 2003, for use commercially by 2004. With the PS3 tentative release of 2005, the hardware seems just around the corner. The real challenge now will be in creating software that fully exploits the power of the newly establishing market.

Partial Source: CNET.COM


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