Sony buys PS3 chip plant back off Toshiba
Cell! Cell! Cell!
Sony is to buy back the Cell processor plant it sold to Toshiba in 2008.
Back then, Toshiba paid ¥90bn for the facility. That was worth $835m at the time.
How much today's deal - which is subject to due diligence - will cost Sony wasn't stated, though the figure of ¥50bn ($603m/£390m) has been bandied about in the press.
The plant is currently owned by Sony-Toshiba joint venture Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing (NSM). Toshiba owns 60 per cent, Sony the remaining 40 per cent, though half of that is technically owned by Sony subsidiary Sony Computer Entertainment International (SCEI).
If the deal goes ahead, Sony will take possession of Toshiba's share on 1 April 2011. ®
OpenCL, GPUGPU & Cell
It's hard to shake the missed opportunity Cell represented. While the proof of concept was with PowerPC processors, it could have been applied to x86. Imagine an x86 with 4 or 6 SPUs on the same die. It would scream at doing video decoding, physics etc.
I wonder if Sony / Toshiba / IBM tried to pitch it to VIA or Intel or AMD or let the opportunity be squandered. Whatever the reason, AMD & NVidia have basically turned their graphics cards into proxy versions of the cell. GPUs could already execute code through shaders and the concept has been extended to be more general purpose, hence it's known as GPGPU
It's still possible that Cell could live on and do so in a way compatible with GPGPU efforts - OpenCL. OpenCL is device neutral abstraction layer for compute intensive code and there is already an impl for Cell. So someone could write a physics engine against OpenCL and in theory it could use Cell or AMD or NVidia or CPU to run it on, whichever was installed. I can well imagine that if OpenCL took off that we might see a son-of-cell appearing in some future x86 chipset. It might make most sense in mobile chipsets which don't have the luxury of a powerful graphics card to make use of.
I doubt Sony is spending all that money to save money producing PS3's. They would have to sell a hell of a lot to make the cost worth while. I can only imagine they plan to put the cell into other devices. Maybe a cut down version for the PSP2? Also, with the advent of internet TV's and TV's generally needing more power they plan to start including them in their TVs.
Capitalism at work.
So Sony sells a plan for ¥90bn , then buys it back 2 years (or so) later for ¥50bn.
This would seem to indicate a possible ¥40bn and they weren't (probably) paying employee wages during that 2 years.
Good way to offload something if you need to streamline, then get it back when your in a better financial position.
April the first eh?
Re: "Sorta confirms"...?
Or maybe, in a couple of years, Sony will sell a Bravia range television in the U.K, with a built in PS3, in a similar way to which a certain Bravia T.V with built in PS2, is now currently being sold by Richer Sounds for £200...?
Or possibly, Sony's Vaio laptop range might use the cell processor as a graphics chip, in a similar way, to some of Toshiba's Quasimo laptop range already have...?
(As I seem to recall, Cell is reportedly OS Neutral...).