The PS3 Bandage That Never Was

IBM gives insight on the potential redundancy built into the Cell processor.

There's no denying that the PlayStation 3 is a complicated beast. One of the most finicky of the thousand-plus components in that concave box is the much-touted Cell processor, which uses high technology to speed the system along. And according to the Cell's maker, if things go wrong, the chip is smart enough that you won't even notice - in theory, at least.

It all comes down to the eight processor cores that make up the Cell chip, IBM's Tom Reeves told tech site Electronic News. If things go wrong and one of the eight cores is damaged the PlayStation 3 could theoretically keep on ticking, "because [it] only uses seven of them," Reeves said.

"You'd have a spare," he said. "That isn't implemented in Cell, but it could be."

The biggest reason for something like this not being put in place is cost. Making sure that all Cell chips have eight functional cores and that the necessary sensors are in place to let the chip know when something has gone wrong is possible but not cheap.

Reeves said that as it stands now, if one of the seven cores used in Cell for PlayStation 3 goes, "it's just like a reliability failure on your TV or DVD recorder. If it's within warranty, you send it back. If it's not, your game doesn't work anymore."

Alex Wollenschlaeger
Editor, Kikizo Games

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