ASN #6 - End-User Apps - SOI In Action

The New Generation: It’s All On SOI

Posted on December 6, 2006
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The PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 CPU design teams all chose SOI. Here’s why.

(Courtesy: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe)

PlayStation®3 “Cell” CPU. Jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba. Manufactured by IBM and Sony. (Courtesy: IBM)

Design challenges
(Read the Cell overview paper by Kahle et al on the IBM website)
Achieve 100 times the PlayStation®2 performance. Joint developers IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba needed to co-optimize the chip area, design frequency, and product operating voltage, creating a “supercomputer on a chip” that marries broadband interconnect, entertainment systems, and supercomputer structures. Beyond the PlayStation®3, the three companies would each promote Cell-based products ranging from digital televisions to home servers to supercomputers.

Solution
Multi-core SoC architecture featuring eight synergistic processors (PowerPC-base Core @3.2GHz, 8 x SPE @3.2GHz). 234 million transistors. 90nm SOI CMOS.

Result
SOI provides a significant power/performance advantage.

(Courtesy: Nintendo)

Wii™ CPU. Jointly developed by Nintendo and IBM. Manufactured by IBM. (Courtesy: IBM)

Design challenges
(Read the full interview with the lead chip designer on the Nintendo website)
Wii console to be no bigger than a stack of three DVD cases so it fits inconspicuously next to a TV and can be left on 24 hours a day. Need lower power consumption and higher performance in a smaller chip. Small case incurs severe heat restrictions.

Solution
Custom PowerPC (code-named “Broadway”) on 90nm SOI CMOS.

Result
SOI technology from IBM helps deliver to Nintendo a generous improvement in processing power while achieving a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption.

(Courtesy: Microsoft)

Xbox™360 CPU. Jointly developed by Microsoft and IBM. Manufactured by IBM and Chartered.(Courtesy: IBM DeveloperWorks)

Design challenges
Ground-up design specifically for high-definition gaming and entertainment. Chip design from concept to full execution in 24 months. Pack twice the power of the Xbox into a smaller form factor. Give game designers power where they need it.

Solution
A customized version of IBM’s 64-bit PowerPC core. The chip includes three of these cores, each with two simultaneous threads and clock speeds greater than 3.2 GHz. 165 million transistors. 90nm SOI CMOS, transitioning to 65nm SOI in Q107.

Result
SOI technology reduces heat and improves performance.