Anatomy of the Playstation 3

The Motherboard (Cont’d)

The heart of the Playstation 3 are the two processors it uses: Cell Broadband Engine (CXD2989), which is the CPU (generic processor), and RSX Reality Synthesizer (CXD2982), which is the GPU (graphics processor).

Sony Playstation 3Figure 25: Cell Broadband Engine, the CPU.

Sony Playstation 3Figure 26: RSX Reality Synthesizer, the GPU.

Playstation 3 uses two kinds of memory. It has 256 MB XDR for the main RAM and 256 MB GDDR3 for the video memory, which is embedded inside the GPU.

XDR is a memory architecture developed by Rambus, which transmits a smaller number of bits per clock cycle but at a high clock rate, enabling a high transfer rate (click here to learn more about this technology). Playstation 3 uses four Samsung K4Y50164UE-JCB3 chips running at 3.2 GHz. Each chip transfers 16 bits per clock cycle, so the communication between the CPU and memory is of 64 bits per clock cycle (16 bits x 4 chips). This yelds a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 25.6 GB/s (3.2 GHz x 64 bits / 8). Each chip holds 512 Mbits of information, which equals to 64 MB and thus four chips makes 256 MB RAM.

Sony Playstation 3Figure 27: One of the XDR memory chips from Playstation 3.

Other chips used on Playstation 3 motherboard are the following:

  • Sony CXM4024
  • Sony CXR714120
  • Sony CXD2984
  • Flash RAM: Spansion S29GL128N (128 Mbit, 16 MB)
  • Serial ATA bridge: Marvell 88SA8040
  • Gigabit Ethernet controller: Marvell 88E6106
  • HDMI controller: Silicon Image Vastlane Sil9132
  • Clock generator (1): ICS 1493BG
  • Clock generator (2): ICS 9249AGLF
  • On Semiconductor NCP5399

Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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