I’m beginning to think that 80% of the world’s problems are caused by reporters who don’t even really know what they’re talking about. 

Take this flawed article with a flawed headline. "Works flawlessly 20% of the time?“ That’s almost certain to be misunderstood. Perhaps they should have said that 20% of PS3 cell processors produced will have no silicon defects. That would be a far more accurate. If he had read more of his source article he would have seen that one of the benefits of the Cell chip is that over 2/3rds of its surface area are redundant. Not just the Cache, but even the logic is redundant. Cell chips will be able to handle a single flaw in one of the SPEs without any degradation in performance. They would be able to handle two flaws in a single SPE or perhaps even multiple flaws in one in addition to a flaw in the L2 Cache without affecting performance. He said that this gave them an effective yield of over 40% for cell chips used in the PS3. 

The other part is, that chips that have flaws in multiple SPEs are not useless. They can still use them in applications such as IBM Supercomputers, Toshiba Televisions, and any other application that only requires 5-6 working SPEs. This lets them recover the cost on damaged chips in much the same way that AMD and Intel sell chips that have flaws in their L2 Cache as lower model processors. IBM can even do this more effectively due to the redundant logic code. For a chip to be considered dead, it must have a flaw in the EIB bus, Memory Controller, IO controller, or PPE processor. Anywhere else on the chip and the chip is still viable for some task.

Finally, he’s completely wrong about his last paragraph. Sony is in fact putting chips that have a single dead SPE in them in playstations. That’s part of the plan for the system. The damaged SPE will be fused so it cannot be used. If a chip has no damaged SPEs, they will still pick one and fuse it so all chips will be the same in capability. IBM said the capability to detect a flaw on the fly and disable the spe wasn’t yet available, so they would likely use this method as previously described. Shipping chips that have small defects with those areas blocked off is standard practice in the processor industry and is used to improve yields.