another veiled PS4 announcement: IBM-Sony-Toshiba Broaden and Extend Successful Semiconductor Techno



Keep in mind that when CELL was first announced in March 2001, they did
not say it was for PS3, even though most agreed that it would be, and
it was.

So now, 5 years later, we are continuing to see public announcements of
chip-development and partnerships for the next-next generation. Anyone
who does not understand this is mainly about PlayStation4, is just
silly -- btw this is not the first PS4-related announcement, only the

Last year, Sony told everyone they're working with Nvidia on a graphics
roadmap, and that RSX (PS3 GPU) is the start of that roadmap.
Obviously they have some ideas on what PS4 graphics will be like, even
if the PS4 GPU is not yet being made, early R&D is being planned and
worked on.

okay, now to the latest (veiled) PS4

IBM, Sony, Toshiba Broaden and Extend Successful Semiconductor
Technology Alliance
Agreement Now Includes Early-Stage Research on Critical Emerging
Technologies Targeted at 32 Nanometer (nm) Generation and Beyond

TOKYO, JAPAN and ARMONK, NY - January 12, 2006 - IBM, Sony Corporation
and Toshiba today announced they have begun a new, five year phase of
their joint technology development alliance.

As part of this broad semiconductor research and development alliance,
the three companies will work together on fundamental research related
to advanced process technologies at 32 nanometers and beyond. The
agreement will help enable the three companies to more rapidly
investigate, identify and commercialize new technologies for consumer
and other applications.

Over the last five years Sony Corporation, Sony Computer Entertainment
Inc., Toshiba and IBM have collaborated on the "Cell"
microprocessor design, and its underlying SOI (silicon-on-insulator)
process technologies in 90 and 65 nanometer.

"This is a winning combination," said Masashi Muromachi, president
& chief executive officer of the Semiconductor Company at Toshiba
Corporation. "With Toshiba's cutting-edge process technology and
manufacturing capabilities, Sony's various semiconductor technologies
and deep knowledge of consumer markets and IBM's state-of-the-art
material technology, we can anticipate breakthrough process
technologies for the 32-nanometer generation and beyond. Toshiba will
apply these advances to assuring continued leadership in cutting-edge
process technology and the accelerated development of essential devices
for the age of ubiquitous connectivity."

"The extension of the IBM, Sony and Toshiba relationship to
fundamental research is extremely promising," said Kenshi Manabe,
president of semiconductor business unit, EVP and Corporate Executive
of Sony Corporation. "This joint development project will help
accelerate the cycle from fundamental research to commercialization
based on detailed feasibility studies of potential technologies, device
structures, innovative materials, and unique processing tools."

"By extending this relationship to the next-generation of process
technologies and deepening our partnership at the research level, we
expect to increase the pace of development for major technology
advances," said Lisa Su, vice president, Semiconductor Research and
Development Center, IBM Systems & Technology Group.

Research and development will take place at IBM's Thomas J. Watson
Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., the Center for Semiconductor
Research at Albany NanoTech, and at IBM's 300 millimeter manufacturing
facility in East Fishkill.


IBM, Sony Extend Cell Chip Development

By Alexei Oreskovic
1/12/2006 1:00 AM EST

The Cell processor has yet to make its long-awaited real-world debut,
but the trio of companies that developed it are extending their
alliance to develop new versions of the chip.

IBM Sony and Toshiba announced Thursday that they have renewed their
semiconductor development collaboration for another five years, through

Under the agreement, the three companies will collaborate on future
versions of the Cell microprocessor to be based on 32-nanometer
processing technology. The current Cell relies on 90-nanometer
technology and the existing road map for the processor goes only as far
as 65 nanometers.

The collaboration also will explore the use of new types of
semiconductor materials and other underlying technologies, which could
lead to new chips and products beyond the Cell.

"We're looking for the next big processor breakthrough," said Lisa Su,
vice president of IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center.
The latest phase of the alliance will put a great deal of emphasis on
early-stage research, whereas the previous effort focused more on
development, said Su.

With the costs of developing and manufacturing cutting-edge chips
becoming increasingly expensive, the companies' decision to continue
pooling their resources is not altogether surprising. A number of
high-tech firms have entered similar types of arrangements, including
Intel and Micron which in November announced a joint venture to develop
flash memory chips dubbed IM Flash.

Yet the renewed commitment to the Cell comes before the chip has
actually had a chance to prove its mettle in the real world. Sony's
PlayStation 3 console, which will be the Cell's first -- and so far
only -- major showcase, is not expected to be available until sometime
this spring.

"So far, what IBM, Sony and Toshiba have produced is an interesting
chip with a lot of promise, but at this point not much utility," says
Insight64 analyst Nathan Brookwood.

The Cell has generated a lot of industry buzz due to its innovative
architecture, which features a 64-bit PowerPC chip as its main engine,
along with up to eight specialized co-processors. The parallel
processing capabilities inherent in this design should allow the Cell
to excel at graphic-intensive applications like video games.

According to Brookwood, this unusual architecture also means that
software programmers need to reconfigure their applications to take
full advantage of the Cell's parallel processing capabilities. "Not all
applications lend themselves to that," said Brookwood.

In addition to video games, IBM has indicated that the Cell is
well-suited to higher-end, number-crunching tasks like weather
forecasting. In June, Mercury Computer Systems announced it will offer
a Cell-based blade product for use in aerospace and medical imaging

But in announcing the latest phase of their collaboration, the Cell's
creators seemed to signal that the chip's focus going forward will be
aimed at mass-market, consumer entertainment applications.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, consumers are now
responsible for more than half of all chip purchases. Companies like
Texas Instruments and National Semiconductor which make chips used in
cell phones and other electronic gadgets, have enjoyed brisk sales of

IBM's Su said the Cell's consumer focus will not be exclusive.

"We're focusing on high-volume consumer [applications] because we think
that's a growth area," said IBM's Su. "But the technology is very
broad, so I would expect to see it applicable in many different


Toward the Chips of Tomorrow
IBM, Toshiba, and Sony -- the trio that developed the revolutionary
Cell chip -- are banding together in an effort to keep the
breakthroughs coming

It takes a ton of money and brainpower to keep the tech industry
chugging along -- which explains a Jan. 12 announcement by heavyweights
Sony, Toshiba, and IBM that they'll jointly develop the next
generation of semiconductor technology. Advertisement

The threesome had worked together over the past five years to bring out
Cell, the revolutionary new chip designed from the ground up for
multimedia applications running on networks. That chip, which cost them
$400 million to bring to market, is expected to see action this spring
with the introduction of Sony's PlayStation 3 video-game console (see
BW Online, 12/22/05, "Sony: Shooting From the Chip?").

SHRINKING CHIPS. Now the partners jointly plan to develop breakthrough
semiconductor designs and materials that will enable the next
generation of Cell processors -- plus other chips -- to fit on
ever-smaller pieces of silicon. The work will happen at IBM's Yorktown
Heights Research Center and at its advanced chip-fabrication plant and
the government-backed Albany Nanotech Center both in New York. "We're
doing fundamental research," says Lisa Su, vice-president for
semiconductor R&D at IBM. "People don't know how to do this yet."

Analysts hailed the announcement as an important event in the annals of
the tech industry. They expect the partners to spend several hundred
million dollars, at least, over the next five years.

"This is the first public commitment by anybody in the world to
32-nanometer technology," says Richard Doherty, director of the market
research firm Envisioneering Group. Today, most chipmakers are using
90-nanometer designs -- meaning the width of the smallest circuit wire
is 90 nanometers, a fraction of the width of a human hair.

KEEPING PACE. Chip giant Intel is confident that it will stay ahead
of the Cell trio with each successive generation of technology. As the
world's No. 1 chipmaker, it has already begun volume manufacturing at
65 nanometers and is building two new $3 billion fabs for 45-nanometer
production. The first Cell chips are expected to be 90-nanometer
designs, and later this year shift to 65.

"We're extremely confident we have the leadership today and are very
confident we'll have the leadership on the next node of the processor
roadmap," says Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

At this point, few companies can afford such massive development
efforts on their own. That's why most are teaming up to pool their
money and expertise. "There are a lot of tough problems to be solved,"
says Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of Microprocessor Report, a top
technical newsletter. "We need new innovations to keep Moore's Law

Moore's Law, the rule-of-thumb that chip processing power will double
every 18 months, has driven the economics of the high-tech industry for
the past 40 years. But in recent years, with each new generation, the
time it takes to double performance has stretched out, and chipmakers
have relied on all sorts of materials and design changes to keep pace.
For instance, the shift from aluminum to copper as the base metal in
chips in 1998 was a major watershed.

VIDEO POWER. Now, IBM and its partners seek the next big bang. "We're
looking for the next copper," says IBM's Su. For starters, like Intel
and others, they're developing a class of materials generically called
high-k that minimizes the leaking of electrons between tightly packed
circuits, which, in turn, heats up the chips and wastes power.

In addition to fundamental chip design advances, the three partners are
focusing on innovations applicable to the consumer-electronics sphere.
The idea is that they can get further by pursuing both goals at once.
Analysts say they expect the initial Cell processor to be at least
twice as powerful as the traditional processor IBM designed and built
for Microsoft's recently released Xbox 360 gaming console (see BW
Online, 10/25/05, "Inside IBM's Xbox Chip").

"It's an amazing chip," says Krewell of Microprocessor Report. That
will result in much richer 3-D graphics in games played on the Sony
console. The goal in the future is to produce the same kind of
performance advantages for a next generation of consumer-electronics
products, including high-definition TV sets and portable video players.

IN THE GAME. Intel doesn't have a comparable chip to Cell. Instead,
it's concentrating on a new generation of multimedia processors for
PCs, called Viiv (pronounced vive), which it announced in early
January. "On Cell, there's not really anything to answer," says Intel's
Mulloy. "It's targeted at games and embedded devices, and not on the
mainstream server, mobile, and PC sectors."

Yet as powerful and successful as Intel is, it may not want to be too
dismissive of Cell, say some analysts. IBM is providing processors for
all three major game consoles -- from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo --
and Sony's PS3 alone is expected to consume more than 100 million Cell
chips over the next few years.


Toshiba, Sony, IBM enter new semiconductor technology alliance
01.12.2006, 03:34 AM

TOKYO (AFX) - Toshiba Corp, Sony Corp and IBM Corp said jointly that
they have entered a new five-year chip research alliance.

The three companies said in a statement that they will cooperate in
fundamental research into advanced semiconductor-processing
technologies at 32 or less nanometers for consumer products and other

Over the last five years, the three firms have worked jointly on 'cell'
microprocesor design, and its underlying silicon-on-insulator process
technologies for 90 and 65 nanometers, the statement said.

Yoshikazu Ochiai, a Sony spokesman, said the new alliance is meant to
replace the previous collaborative arrangement.


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