Playstation 3 gets torn apart

Techie blogger Dick James has put some initial information about the Playstation 3 teardown on his Chipworks blog. Chipworks were showing a PS3 with the top taken off at Electronica. Over the coming weeks they’ll strip down the system, remove the chips and then look inside to see what they’re made of. So far Dick says the PS3 has four main devices, including the eight core Cell Broadband Engine from IBM/Sony/Toshiba and the RSX (reality synthesiser) graphics chip from Nvidia.

We also seem to have the EE+GS [emotion engine] chip that was used in the PS2. I have heard that NEC got the design win for their embedded DRAM to go with the graphics processor; so maybe that’s the fourth big chip we can see on the board.

Dick reckons the Cell processor and DRAM are fabbed on 90nm. The emotion engine chip presumably gives backwards compatibility for PS2 games.

Looking at the pieces as they come out, the most impressive bit to me is the thermal engineering. There’s a cooling fan the size of a dinner plate, and some hefty heat tubes, all to get the heat way from the core chips.

Meanwhile, iSuppli has revealed that Sony is losing up to $300 on every PS3 it sells. The analyst says the $499 20Gbyte version has a bill-of-materials and manufacturing cost of $805, while the 60Gbyte version costs $840, a loss of just $240 on the $599 retail price.

It’s common for video-game console makers to lose money on hardware, and make up for the loss via video game-title sales. Still, the size of Sony’s loss per unit is remarkable, even for the video-game console business.

Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and senior analyst for iSuppli, seems pretty impressed with the performance of the PS3:

With the PlayStation 3, you are getting the performance of a supercomputer at the price of an entry-level PC. If someone had shown me the PlayStation 3 motherboard from afar without telling me what it was, I would have assumed it was for a network switch or an enterprise server.

iSuppli is doing a formal teardown of the PS3, which presumably can be bought for a large sum of money. They have released some details, including how much money each of the major silicon suppliers is making: Nvidia 12% Toshiba 11% Samsung 11% IBM 11% International Rectifier 3% Marvell 2% Analog Devices 2% ICS 1% CSR 1% Vishay-Siliconix 1% Total value $457 The power supply is a 400W monster, costing nearly $40, around three times the cost of a PC’s PSU.

Tags: cooling fan, dick james, game title, iSuppli, playstation 3, ps2 games, system 2c

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