A PS3 Tidbit - 8th SPE
Sony has previously said that of the 8 SPE’s on the Cell chip (seen to the right), only 7 of them will be active. The last one will not. This would allow for a higher wafer yield, allowing more usable chips per wafer. Why? Because if there’s a flaw in the manufacturing of a processor, it could be that it only affects one SPE. That SPE would be disabled, and the chip would be otherwise fine. This is a great idea, actually, and will help in keeping down the cost of the PS3.
But Hannibal over at ars technica got a strange tip about an alternate use for the eighth SPE. And that is that it is “reserved for exclusive use by system security and DRM-related processes”. Far be it from me to squash rumours, so I won’t this time. This is the first I’ve heard of this and it comes from total left field. Plus it would increase the cost of the Cell processor. Plus Sony has said that this is not what the SPE would be for. But then, Sony has put some pretty nasty copy protection on CDs as of late. So… you can draw your own conclusions.