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Sony's post-PS3 vision for the Cell
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Sony's post-PS3 vision for the Cell - June 15, 2006, 01:29 AM

SCE CEO Ken Kutaragi details Sony's plan to put Cell processors in everything from servers to home electronics.

By Walt Wyman, GameSpot Posted Jun 14, 2006 11:12 am PT

As part of an ongoing series of interviews, Japanese site PC Impress Watch asked Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi about plans for incorporating the Cell processor into other kinds of devices. Commenting on the eight Synergistic Processor Elements (SPE) in the Cell's current specification, Kutaragi stated that this could be scaled down considerably, leading to the creation of smaller-scale Cells for domestic applications. "Just two [SPEs] are all that's needed... But first we have to computerize home electronics. Currently this is not the case. This is the real problem."
Kutaragi pointed out that while most technology advocates consider the computerization of home appliances as inevitable, this view is not necessarily shared by the consumer electronics industry. "The number of [industry] people who believe that home electronics must be computerized is close to zero," he stated. He later attributed this to "pride" on the part of the electronics industry, adding that "there's nothing wrong with pride, but it leaves the question of what to do with your fixed hardware and software when you have to process data."
On the other hand, sheer volume may make computerizing home appliances worthwhile. "As a terminal, consider the flatscreen televisions in ordinary households. If you turn all these televisions into computers, the potential broadens greatly." He also took a playful jab at some of his rivals, joking "One wrong move, and Intel and [Steve] Jobs will walk off with everything."
Kutaragi attributed public interest in Sony to its unique structure, which resembles neither a strictly PC nor an electronics company. "We're kind of the stepson of the industry... But that's why people find us so interesting. The world would be a cold place indeed without the PlayStation." Kutaragi also mentioned some ways Sony might cut down on the Cell's manufacturing costs. One was adoption of a 65-nanometer process, an event that Kutaragi predicted will occur in 2007. The Cell will also make use of Tranmeta's LongRun power-management technology. Kutaragi stressed that power consumption was critical. "If we can't reduce [power consumption]," he stated, "we will never be able to make the PS3 cheap and small."
Lastly, Kutaragi addressed cooling the Cell. "We'll use heat pipes and a custom cooling solution, but the methods used will be common," he said. "We definitely aren't using any proprietary methods... We certainly couldn't fit a liquid cooling system [inside the PS3]... We're spending a lot on heat and electromagnetic interference [management]. The power supply could almost be sold separately."


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