OTTAWA -- IBM, Toshiba, Qualcomm and Avago won significant sockets inside Sony's latest portable gaming console, the Playstation Vita, according to a teardown by UBM TechInsights. A quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor co-developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba is at the heat of the new handheld.
Sony unveiled the Vita at the E3 Expo as the follow on to its Playstation Portable (PSP) and a direct competitor to the Nintendo 3DS, subject of a UBM TechInsights teardown earlier this year. So far, Sony and Nintendo still command the lion's share of the portable gaming market, but smartphones are on the rise as handheld gaming platforms.
To keep an edge, Sony packed into the Playstation Vita a five-inch OLED multi-touch screen supporting 16 million colors. The Vita also sports a touch-sensitive back panel that will open doors to new kinds of game play such as tracing your fingers along the back of the device to generate movements on the screen.
Playstation Vita incorporates all the bells and whistles of today’s high-end smartphones, including a GPS device and a three-axis gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass. Sony sells a version supporting both 3G and Wi-Fi as well as a Wi-Fi-only model.
From a technical perspective, the Playstation Vita is of great interest because it is among the first handheld devices to use a custom quad-core ARM processor. Sony hopes the part helps differentiate Vita from other handheld gaming consoles, as well as the gaming experience offered on tablets and high-end smartphones.
Sony turned to its Cell processor partners—IBM and Toshiba—to create the CXD5315GG, a four core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU. There was some speculation that Samsung would be the manufacturer, but Sony looks to have chosen fab partners that it had comfort working with in the past.
A die shot of the processor and a close up of the Toshiba fab marking are below. Besides helping create Vita's quad-core CPU, Toshiba also snagged design wins in providing the multichip memory package and the system memory of the device.
Qualcomm provides the MDM6200 HSPA+ GSM modem in the Vita, another major win after being designed into the Apple iPhone 4S. (Unfortunately, it looks as though Sony decided to make the Vita a GSM-only device so CDMA customers will be out of luck.) Qualcomm also scored a design win for its PM8028 power management IC, which we have seen in numerous devices this year.
Avago scored six socket wins in the Playstation Vita, a number of them on the communications board. STMicroelectronics captured two design wins, while Kionix and Marvell got one each for an accelerometer and Wi-Fi chip, respectively.
The Playstation Vita features three separate PCBs that serve different purposes. One controls the system’s analog and digital joysticks, another handles wireless communications and a main board is home to the processor, GPU and other key components. -- Allan Yogasingam is Technology Roadmap Manager of UBM TechInsights, and division of UBM LLC, the publisher of EE Times.
The Vita's quad-core ARM Cortex was co-developed by IBM, Sony, and Toshiba...Images: ...and made by Toshiba as die markings show.
- A view of the quad-core CPU
- A look at the externals
- Opening the Playstation Vita
- Going deeper inside
- The communications board
- The main board
- Behind the back panel touch sensor
Click on image to enlarge.