Our first post about PS3 UltraSlim, four months ago, dealt with the successive shrink steps and eventual integration of the Cell Broadband Engine (the CPU) and the RSX graphics processor (GPU), analoguous to the merging of the Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer into EE+GS which paved the way for PS2 Slim.
In the meantime we’ve learnt about the complexities and diminishing returns of shrinking the two main PS3 chips and other practical obstacles making a single die Cell+RSX unlikely in the near future. One question we’ve asked no one seemed willing to answer is if Cell and RSX on one chip is too cumbersome, would combining them on a SoC (System-on-a-Chip) or in a SiP (System-in-a-Package) be a possible and attractive step forward for Sony Computer Entertainment?
Well, we’ve just got a glimpse of the lines SCE is apparently thinking along: Sony’s new PS Vita, according to Canadian semiconductor technology analysts and advisors Chipworks, contains a true SiP component, consisting of a processor (one with an embedded GPU in case you’re interested) with memory stacked on top, making very efficient use of scarce PCB real estate. Detailed technical analysis here.
Is the new PS3 going to use RAM on top of Cell, VRAM stacked onto the RSX, or a combination of both? Unless SCE is going to announce this at some semiconductor conference such as ISSCC (but the 2012 edition of that has already taken place) we’ll have to wait until CECH-4000 PlayStation 3 gets to market — some time shortly after GamesCom 2012? — and gets a teardown by iSuppli or iFixit, with the silicon X-rayed by researchers of Chipworks,