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Thursday, February 07, 2008
New 6GHz Cell Processor to Consume 40% Less Power

The next generation Cell Broadband Engine chip will be produced at 65nm process, will have potential to run at 6GHz while it will consume significantly less power, according to IBM.

IBM, Sony and Toshiba discussed the migration of Cell Broadband Engine from 65nm SOI to 45nm SOI, at 2008 IEEE International Solid-state Circuits Conference (ISSCC), held in San Francisco Feb 3-7.

IBM described the challenges of migrating the Cell Broadband Engine design from the current 65nm SOI to 45nm SOI using mostly an automated approach called "Migration Assistant Shape Handler (MASH)". MASH is a layout manipulation system that allows construction of a design layout solution.

While preserving the current cycle-by-cycle machine behavior, IBM focuses in the migration effectiveness, power reduction, area reduction, and DFM improvements.

Compared to the 65nm process, the upcoming 45nm process will offer a power consumption of roughly by 40%, while the chip area will be reduced by 34%.

For example, the next-generation 45nm Cell Broadband Engine chip installed on Sony's PS3 entertainment platform will consume approximately 38% less power than the 65nm chip, in the case where both run at 3.2GHz. In addition, the reduction on the chip's overall size could mean a cheaper package and thus, less production cost for the PS3.

IBM also said that the upcoming 45nm Cell chip will be able to run at 6GHz and will require just 1.15V. The same chip manufactured at 90nm required 1.4V at operating frequencies of 5.2 ~5.6GHz. Of course, the 6GHz chip is currently tested at the lab and it is still away from commercialization, mainly through IBM's blade servers. In case of the PS3, Sony has the last word whether it would use a faster chip in the gaming device.

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