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When will Sony ship a slim redesigned PS3?

Sony officially said, “We currently don’t have any plans for a redesigned PS3.” This isn’t completely accurate. I’m sure that the teams involved with manufacturing the hardware definitely have continuous plans for improving the hardware, lowering production costs, and using newer and improved components from their suppliers. And I’m sure a major end-user visible smaller, lighter redesign is well planned. What Sony’s PR statement translates to is that they don’t have any plans that they are ready to discuss publically or any near-finished product that is going to ship in the immediate future.

First, a brief overview of hardware improvements (source):

Original Launch Hardware (November 2006) Newer PS3 Hardware (as of August 2008)
Cell CPU 90nm tech 65nm tech (smaller, cheaper, cooler, lower power draw)
RSX GPU 90nm tech 65nm tech (same improvements as above)
Max Power Draw 200 Watt 130 Watt
Cooling 5 internal heat pipes Cheaper, lighter heat aluminum heat sinks

In addition to the above, in 2008 Toshiba and Sony announced that they had Cell CPUs being manufactured with an even cheaper, cooler, and lower power 45nm and that would be in full mass production sometime in 2009. They didn’t mention a specific date, but new PS3 assembly will obviously switch to that once it’s available.

Secondly, have you seen a disassembled PS3? The blu-ray drives are big and heavy. Various vendors have been selling much lighter, thinner 9.5mm blu-ray drives for over a year now. I’m sure that technology is readily and cheaply available for PS3 use when they do decide to do a redesign.

Thirdly, they’ve dropped PS2 compatability hardware which I strongly dislike as an end user, but I’m sure that simplifies the hardware.

Bottom Line

There have major improvements to every part of the PS3 hardware since it first launched in 2006, yet they are still using the exact some external shell with the same size and form factor. The technology is available to do a major slimline redesign, the question is when will they do that?

I really can’t guess better than anyone else, but I think it’s a safe bet that we will see further internal improvements to new PS3 units later this year. At the least, we will likely see 45nm process technology in production this year.