A complete guide to disassembling the new PlayStation 3 "Super Slim" has been posted to YouTube, giving us some firm answers about the revisions Sony has made to the basic design of its veteran console.
Posted by YouTube user "K0st3yr", it's the third and final video in the series that offers up the most interesting insights into the construction of the new console. A key element in reducing the cost of a games console comes down to fabricating the core silicon - the most expensive elements in this case being the Cell CPU and the RSX graphics core. Microsoft's approach with its 2010 360S revision was to integrate these two components into a single part, reducing costs significantly - not just in terms of the silicon, but also with the attendant cooling set-up. This approach is nothing new - Sony did the same with the PlayStation 2, integrating the Graphics Synthesizer and Emotion Engine into one chip - but the additional complexity of current-gen parts makes this a major engineering challenge.
In K0st3yr's videos, it's immediately apparent that while the structural design of the new PlayStation is significantly simpler - and thus easier and cheaper to produce - Sony is still relying upon discrete components for its main processors. Curiously, the integrated metallic heatspreader that sat on top of the RSX is now gone and based on size comparisons with the USB port, it appears that the chip remains identical to that found in the existing PlayStation 3 Slim - fabricated at 40nm. We also see that the GPU retains the four GDDR3 memory modules, again a match for the older model.
"The internals suggest a robustly built piece of hardware, significantly scaled down but with Cell and RSX unchanged from the last Slim, suggesting cooler, more power-efficient revisions to come."
Cell itself remains tucked under a heatspreader, so it's difficult to tell if any changes have been made in this regard. However, our feeling is that once again the component is a match for the existing model as the integrated power supply offers peak power output along similar lines to the last Slim, while a smaller component would reduce load significantly. A drop from Cell's current 45nm process chip to 32nm would be the next logical step, but based on the LinkedIn profile of IBM's Elizabeth Gerhard - who "owned delivery" of key console processors at various fabrication nodes - there's a strong suggestion that the chip skips ahead to 22nm at some point in the future instead.
Elsewhere, while the exterior plastics, buttons and slidey lid cover are a step down from premium finish traditionally associated with PS3 build quality, the rest of the innards look reassuringly robust, and the complexity of the construction in general looks more involved than the Xbox 360S (with the original launch 360 looking almost agricultural in comparison). The cooling array looks sufficiently meaty, and just like the existing Slim, the entire top surface of the motherboard is encased in a metallic shield connected directly to the heatsink and fan. The Blu-ray drive appears to be significantly smaller too and overall part-count looks much reduced.
Next up is the 12GB flash PlayStation 3, based on the same chassis. Going forward, this looks to be the most price-competitive model Sony has in the offing, with the firm hinting in a recent Eurogamer interview that we could see some aggressive pricing at retail, along with some intriguing expansion options - including the ability to slot in an existing drive from your current PS3, or upgrade with your own HDD using an inexpensive caddy.