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IBM kills Cell chip line - Ninthing kills Sony then wakes up sticky, confused

IBM is discontinuing the Cell chip line of products. A successor to the current PowerXCell-8i chip will not be brought to market, the company's Vice President of Deep Computing, David Turek, told the German IT news site Heise. Turek did note that the Cell design was not dead and would in parts be implemented across IBM's various other chip designs. The future, though, belongs to hybrid designs and heterogenous multiprocessing, Turek said.

The ramifications for a possible successor to the PlayStation3 could be significant. Its architecture can no longer be Cell-based, which would entail the following: Firstly, backwards compatibility to the PS3 would no longer be possible on a hardware basis. It would have to be emulated, which is always the worse option. And, secondly, Sony could no longer look forward to a relatively cheap research and development budget for the PS4.

Allow me to speculate a little here. Over the past two years, various reports have sprung up that Sony was very much considering a Cell-based chip for the PS4.


The plan to use variants of Cell in future PlayStation iterations was always in place, explains [Impress Watch technology writer Hiroshige Goto], which is why Sony invested so heavily in the chipset. However, while the use of the Cell in the PS4 may seem like Sony just sticking with its original plan, the real reason could be that the company in its current form doesn't have the reserves to create another chipset and build all the requisite development tools above it.

Going with Cell has the benefits of keeping production costs down for the PS4 and also allowing cutting game development costs due to a consistent architecture. Sony would also be able to include a smaller chip size from the start, potentially reducing the system's retail price.
Of course, IBM would not discontinue a chip line if Sony was still interested in it. So we can safely assume that Sony changed its mind. But why? A Cell-based solution would have had many advantages for the company, as noted above. One possible explanation would be that Sony has cancelled its plans for another PlayStation and will be leaving the home console market. Analysts discussed this option years ago.

And while the slimmer version and price cut have helped the console gain some market share, the price cut is costing Sony dearly. The Washington Post reported that Sony is further away from profitability than previously thought.


Sony (...) pushed back its target for an operating profit margin of 5 percent to March 2013. Chief Executive Howard Stringer had originally set the target in 2005 for the financial year to March 2008, but plans for recovery were waylaid by the economic slowdown.
In my mind, Sony withdrawing from the home console market altogether is a real possibility. And IBM discontinuing the Cell chip line may be the first indicator of such a move. Any thoughts?

P.S.: This story from my blog.
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
43,347
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:lol

What a whole lot of reaching.

It's quite possible indeed that PS4 won't be Cell-based but saying it CAN'T be cell based is quite another matter. IBM not producing a 32-spe cell chip as per their previous roadmap says nothing about Sony doing or not doing so.

Continuing from this that Sony could pull out of home hardware altogether, coupled with your blog's url...and...well...
 

CrushDance

Banned
Sep 9, 2006
15,029
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:lol

What gofreak said.

But here's the problem, everyone has complained about how difficult it is to develop for CELL. Who's to say Sony won't ditch it and go for a different CPU to appease developers? Personally I'd like to see the 32SPE Cell. We either lose BC again or make developers happy, pretty obvious which one they'd pick.
 

jax (old)

Banned
May 12, 2005
8,469
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OMFG someone check out his post history. see if you don't see a pattern....

:lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol
 

brain_stew

Member
Feb 20, 2007
19,261
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Darkpen said:
Forget the speculation, I want to know what the Heise article actually says in its entirety.
This, a potentially interesting and important development that has been totally ruined and covered in fanboy wank material, that was really unnecessary.

If IBM are discontinuing with Cell development that does decrease the probablility of the PS4 being CELL based but it sure as hell isn't a rubber stamp and how one goes from that to Sony leaving the console market entirely beggars belief.
 
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I don't think our Nintendo blogger OP understands that IBM owns and operates their fabs on a first party + contract 3rd party basis. They make chips for themselves, but that's only a small part of their fab capacity, they make lots of chips for other people. IBM is discontinuing their own line of Cell processors but both Toshiba and Sony (the other 2 collaborators on the architecture) are still moving ahead with their plans for Cell, Toshiba for their TVs and Sony for Playstation. What IBM's termination of their Cell project branch really means is that the pipe dream of using Cell for general purpose computing is dead, and the Cell's asymmetric architecture was always terrible for general purpose computing, that's why Intel and AMD's general purpose CPUs have 2-4 identical cores instead of Cell's 1 regular core + a ton of special math coprocessor cores. Cell was an ideal design for embedded applications, such as TVs and game consoles.

Also, Sony and Microsoft are the 2 companies in the industry who are now driving technological progress in console gaming. If Sony and Microsoft exited the market we could look forward to gaming in 480p for the rest of our lives unless we all became PC gamers.
 

maxmars

Member
May 16, 2005
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spons said:
Sony leaving behind the most powerful brand in gaming? Please.
I've heard they are looking into becoming wooden furniture wholesale dealers and drop out of electronics altogether. As a matter of fact I think they're going to leave their VAIO line of notebooks to a guy named Bob.
 

Tellaerin

Member
Jun 10, 2004
9,757
1
1,450
Falafelkid said:
In my mind, Sony withdrawing from the home console market altogether is a real possibility. And IBM discontinuing the Cell chip line may be the first indicator of such a move. Any thoughts?
Yeah, I think you're going to sprain something with all the reaching and stretching you're doing. :p
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
43,347
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Darkpen said:
Forget the speculation, I want to know what the Heise article actually says in its entirety.
I believe it says: IBM won't be producing the standalone 2-PPU 32-SPE Cell chip as per their previous roadmap. But Cell's design/architecture is not dead, but it or parts thereof could be incorporated into hybrid designs with, for example, x86 extensions. Something maybe like the Roadrunner x86/Cell setup but more closely coupled.

I interpret this from this google translate:

David Turek, confirmed in an interview with heise online that the planned successor to the current PowerXCell 8i processor with dual PowerPC processors and 32 SPEs not will give. Damit sei das Cell-Design aber nicht tot, heißt es, Teile davon sollen in anderer Form wieder auftauchen. Thus was the Cell design, but not dead, says that parts of it will reappear in another form.

The future is hybrid, Turek said, or rather, it lies in the heterogeneous multiprocessing. In den von IBM weitergeführten Linien Power und BlueGene wird es genauso wie bei x86 entsprechende Erweiterungen für Co-Prozessoren oder Accerelatoren geben, entweder im Prozessor integriert oder sehr eng angekoppelt. In the continuing power and lines of IBM's Blue Gene is the same type as corresponding extensions for x86 processors, or co-Accerelatoren, either integrated in the processor or very closely coupled.
That kind of talk could actually add interest fuel to speculation about Larrabee in next playstation or talk of Intel hooking up with Sony.

This is IBM's intentions for their own products though. It doesn't tell us much about Sony's plans for PS4. They could go with something totally different, or could still design their own Cell based chip and contract IBM among others to manufacture it.
 

neorej

ERMYGERD!
Jun 15, 2006
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Yes, because with IBM out of the picture, there's no way Sony and Toshiba could manufacture those chips on their own. Based on on what I've read so far (at work, so can't read it in detail) IBM is discontinueing their Cell-based-products, I haven't read anything about discontinueing Cell alltogether.

This is typical fanboy-wishful thinking IMHO.
 

CrushDance

Banned
Sep 9, 2006
15,029
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Wii 2 rumours a complete fabrication?



MaxConsole has published rumours about a possible hardware upgrade for the Wii console. The system is said to be Blu-ray enabled and will apparently feature 1080p support.

A simultaneous worldwide release date is said to be planned for the third quarter of 2010 and Nintendo is apparently considering a trade-in scheme for original Wii consoles. The site lists a marketing employee of Nintendo of France as the original source.




I would just like to remind people that MaxConsole has been one of the most unreliable gaming news sites on the net. They have both written complete bullshit as well as spread other people's.

My inside knowledge of Nintendo is that Nintendo of France would have absolutely no knowledge of such plans, if they existed, so early on. Nintendo of Europe, based in Frankfurt, is hardly ever told so well in advance of new hardware; at least not the guys in marketing. To me, this is a complete fabrication. The idea of such a trade-in scheme is also laughable.
lolz, my stomach hurts. Could a German Gaffer translate the article please?
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
43,347
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neorej said:
Yes, because with IBM out of the picture, there's no way Sony and Toshiba could manufacture those chips on their own. Based on on what I've read so far (at work, so can't read it in detail) IBM is discontinueing their Cell-based-products, I haven't read anything about discontinueing Cell alltogether.

This is typical fanboy-wishful thinking IMHO.
There's not even a question of IBM not manufacturing chips that Sony contracts them to manufacture.

Just future purely Cell-based products are not in IBM's own future for their own products. They're now interested, it seems, in more hybrid designs that may incorporate Cell or parts of Cell alongside elements of other architectures. I'm guessing based on their experience with Roadrunner.

But if Sony came to them asking for a purely Cell based design for a PS4 or whatever, they'll be happy to oblige I'm sure. Same as they wouldn't turn down Microsoft if they asked for a Xenon-based design or Nintendo if they asked for a Broadway-based design for their next systems, regardless of those chips non-existence in IBM's own future products.

Whether Sony will ask for a purely Cell based design is another matter, but the option isn't closed to them as the OP would suggest.
 

NemesisPrime

Banned
Sep 30, 2007
3,772
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Falafelkid said:
IBM is discontinuing the Cell chip line of products.... snip
TBH it was always rather clear that Sony would *not* use Cell for future consoles. A lot of people inside the business could see that. This does not have a big impact on Sony. They will just use a slightly customized PowerPC chip like all the other consoles next gen. Yes this will be a prob for backwards compatibility, but that has not proven to be a big factor this gen anyway.

While your post is interesting, it is blowing stuff a bit out of proportion IMHO.

Banned? Somebody needs to drink less coffee.
 

TheExecutive

Member
Jan 3, 2009
6,510
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So why would Sony, a company that spent 10's of millions of dollars R&D'ing the cell chip, suddenly allow their partner to bail out? This doesnt compute.
 

CrushDance

Banned
Sep 9, 2006
15,029
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TheExecutive said:
So why would Sony, a company that spent 10's of millions of dollars R&D'ing the cell chip, suddenly allow their partner to bail out? This doesnt compute.
IBM isn't some little company that can be kicked around. Secondly, it was a joint venture and they CAN make their own chips to whatever spec at any time. They would simply pay and have them delivered.
 

cw_sasuke

If all DLC came tied to $13 figurines, I'd consider all DLC to be free
Sep 9, 2006
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TheExecutive said:
So why would Sony, a company that spent 10's of millions of dollars R&D'ing the cell chip, suddenly allow their partner to bail out? This doesnt compute.
Nintendo and there CD-ROM Drive for the SNES says hi :lol
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
13,504
1,668
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gofreak said:
I believe it says: IBM won't be producing the standalone 2-PPU 32-SPE Cell chip as per their previous roadmap. But Cell's design/architecture is not dead, but it or parts thereof could be incorporated into hybrid designs with, for example, x86 extensions. Something maybe like the Roadrunner x86/Cell setup but more closely coupled.

I interpret this from this google translate:



That kind of talk could actually add interest fuel to speculation about Larrabee in next playstation or talk of Intel hooking up with Sony.

This is IBM's intentions for their own products though. It doesn't tell us much about Sony's plans for PS4. They could go with something totally different, or could still design their own Cell based chip and contract IBM among others to manufacture it.
Slightly tweaked current CBE chip (higher frequency, maybe revised PPE and SPE design) on 32 nm + LRB as GPU?

It could work, but Intel will be strongly pitching to pair LRB with a Sandy Bridge derivative... still, SPU isolation mode and the current Hypervisor sure make an interesting point for Sony (although it is not like Intel is far behind in that scenario either).
 

HUELEN10

Member
Feb 29, 2008
25,775
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CrushDance said:
By the way....


WTF
WTF! :lol :lol :lol
kpop100 said:
There probably are quite a few games that deserve that rating.

Indeed.
rhfb said:
This thread should be quite a bit of fun to read. News for sure if true.
In all seriousness though, I agree. We should wait for a proper translation.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
13,504
1,668
1,955
gofreak said:
There's not even a question of IBM not manufacturing chips that Sony contracts them to manufacture.

Just future purely Cell-based products are not in IBM's own future for their own products. They're now interested, it seems, in more hybrid designs that may incorporate Cell or parts of Cell alongside elements of other architectures. I'm guessing based on their experience with Roadrunner.

But if Sony came to them asking for a purely Cell based design for a PS4 or whatever, they'll be happy to oblige I'm sure. Same as they wouldn't turn down Microsoft if they asked for a Xenon-based design or Nintendo if they asked for a Broadway-based design for their next systems, regardless of those chips non-existence in IBM's own future products.

Whether Sony will ask for a purely Cell based design is another matter, but the option isn't closed to them as the OP would suggest.
True, but with IBM not pushing the CBEA as previously planned for internal use, there is much less chance for CELL to be competitive and reasonable...

Sony does not seem interested in investing hundreds of millions in pure R&D for a new CPU, Toshiba does not seem already lined up for PS4 (IMHO I do not see them working on PS4 at all)... Backward compatibility and security (well, security first and foremost) are the two biggest reasons for a CELL based PS4 CPU...

The first point can be worked around with emulation (PS3 titles with some small graphical enhancements [say better AA and AF] will still look very good on PS4 and can be sold on the PSN store) and sufficiently capable hardware.

The second point can be solved by a different Hypervisor based solution (Sony has been able to study the effects of the security model developed for PS3).

Then price and performance for native PS4 titles and compatibility with the likely LRB based GPU come in... can a CELL based CPU compete with what Intel can offer when the burden of R&D investment is now solely on Sony's head (instead of being shared by IBM and Toshiba too)?
 

[Nintex]

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Jun 21, 2005
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Ah yes, Falafel kid brings me back to the wonders of the revolution. He has spread so much bullshit and people believed him because he worked for RTL or another European TV channel or something.

I'm still waiting for my Nurbs :lol

And well Nintendo is the only one using the single core PowerPC these days, and they're still in the game too. "ATi to discontinue DirectX 7 parts, Nintendo am dead in the water!11!1!!!"