Sony's eventual replacement for the PlayStation 3 may simply rely on a continuation of Cell technology rather than a whole new architecture, according to info obtained by Impress. Where the PS2 and PS3 both represented major changes in architecture, the PS4 will reportedly focus on driving down costs both for actual buyers and for Sony itself, which is said to consider yet another complete change in processor design too expensive when it has to compete against Nintendo's less expensive Wii and has alredy invested heavily into developing Cell with IBM and Toshiba.
The Cell chip itself is likely to speed up but is most likely to see a more modest upgrade than possible. Sony plans to shrink the chip from a 90 nanometer process down to 45 nanometers but is expected to at most increase the number of cores from eight to 12 and may only increase the clock speed slightly over the 3.2GHz Cell in use for the PS3 today.
Sony is also allegedly considering a change in memory from the very fast but expensive Rambus XDR memory in the PS3 to low-power DDR3. To compensate for any perceived slowdown, the company may graft the memory to the processor itself and therefore cut out much of the latency associated with RAM.
The PS4 isn't predicted to reach stores until 2011 but would return to Sony's five-year launch schedule for new PlayStation systems because of the move, which will not only simplify the hardware end of the design for the company but also aid developers in producing games, many of whom now already have at least some experience with the PS3 and so can start quickly on writing code for PS4 titles.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 is described as a probable motivating factor for Sony, as its launch a full year ahead of the PS3 let Microsoft build up sales to where its game platform has outsold the PS3 in some areas.