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  • Kutaragi Watch: Cell “defects” are just redundancy

    Posted on June 21st, 2005 Finster 7 comments

    Kutaragi Watch

    Gamespot interviewed Ken Kutaragi about Cell chips and other details about the PS3.

    Kutaragi stated earlier that although the Cell microprocessor comes with eight synergistic processor elements (SPEs) for multicore processing, the chip only uses seven of them. Kutaragi explained that ignoring one SPE as a redundancy will improve the chip’s production yield and allow costs to drop dramatically. In other words, Sony can ship a Cell chip with one defective SPE (out of its eight) as a working product, since the chip only uses seven SPEs to begin with.

    So, basically, we’re now purposely building defects into the design of the PS3 processor. No wonder Jobs dumped IBM.

    And, let’s be clear about something right now. This is NOT redundancy. When speaking of RAID, which means Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks, we are talking about data integrity, fault tolerance, and performance. The whole POINT of redundancy in RAID is to have an increase in these three things. If not all, then at least one of them.

    Kutaragi’s “creative redefinition” of redundancy means building a RAID array of 8 disks with 7 working disks and 1 disk you already know is bad. That’s not redundancy. That’s a manufacturing defect that you’ve found a workaround for.

    Frankly, if the only way that Sony is going to keep up with PS3 manufacturing is to integrate manufacturing defects into the chip design, then I think I’ll steer clear of this console for a while until the defects get corrected (like I’ve done with every other Sony console. The later versions of the PS2 are great. Too bad the first 5 or 6 sucked.)

    This is the ultimate aesthetic. The number of SPEs we equip to the Cell and how many we will actually use are two different things. I wanted to adopt the idea of ‘redundancy’ to the development of semiconductors.

    Only Kutaragi would equate manufacturing and design defects with aesthetics.

    Remember, if you would like to submit any blathering Kutaragi quotes, then drop a line to


    6 responses to “Kutaragi Watch: Cell “defects” are just redundancy” RSS icon

    • hmmm, my original ps1 and ps2 both work to this day… oh well, i can jump on anyways.

      boo sony!!! yay beer!!!!

      fight the machine!!!1!!oneone

    • Congrats. Just don’t ever set the PS2 on its side, and you’ll be fine.

    • hehe my ps2 has been on its side since the day xbox came out (so they can both fit where’s i wants them)

    • Aw, so your apparent luck at not getting boned by buying Sony hardware obviously invalidates everyone else who has ever had a problem.

      Silly me.

    • “Kutaragi’s “creative redefinition” of redundancy means..”
      Although using redundant CPU cores is prolly a new thing (if only because having multiple cores on a die is a relatively new design technique) the actual technique is used for cache memory and the final cycle rating for CPUs, and has been for a long time.
      In fact here is a paper on cache redundancy from 1999,

    • Interesting. A white paper on G4 production yield published by Motorola. *That’s* objective. They’re doing the same thing that I’m criticizing Kutaragi for.

      I’m not arguing whether the technique has been used before or not. But to call this redundancy is to put a positive spin on something that is essentially building for failure. See my RAID comparison above.

      But since your comment was both intelligent and backed up by facts, you should get an internet cookie. You’re essentially right, but are arguing against a point I was never making.

      But I digress. Obviously, there have to be some acceptable level of defects. I understand that. I realize this has been done with CPU in respect to clock speed for a long long time. But this is probably the first time that I’ve ever heard anyone say, “Look how great this is! A greater percentage of our silicon area is defective, wow! Now go buy a PS3!”

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