CELLs Multiply
Posted date : Dec 7, 2005

IBM, Sony/SCEI and Toshiba are actively encouraging the proliferation of CELL applications


Some Cell Specs: • Observed clock speed: >4GHz. A wide range of operating frequencies are supported to optimize for power and yield. • Peak performance (single precision): >256 GFlops • Peak performance (double precision): >26 GFlops • Local storage size per Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU): 256KB • Area: 221 mm2 • Technology: 90nm SOI • Total number of transistors: 234M

The most celebrated of Cell applications, Sony’s PlayStation® 3, is due out next spring. In the meantime, the SOI-based Cell Broadband Engine (CBE) microprocessor, as it is officially known, is getting a big push from its joint developers: Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI), Sony, Toshiba and IBM.

From the very beginning, SOI advantages such as higher performance and lower power have been top priorities. “We believe the Cell design, and the advanced technologies like SOI with which it will be manufactured, will help change the way people work, play and communicate”, commented Dr. John Kelly, senior vice president and group executive for the IBM Technology Group.

In a recent IBM developerWorks interview, Power Everywhere™ systems offerings program director Dan Greenberg cited a wide range of potential Cell applications. “High-performance consumer electronics like digital television (DTV) and home media servers, some of which have already been announced by Sony and Toshiba, will use Cell”, he said. He also cited 3D imaging applications such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for medical scanners, CT scanners, ultrasound, radar and sonar, as well as security and surveillance.

A recent Sony statement indicated that the company is creating a division to promote the development of Cell processor-related technology, products and applications, reporting directly to Sony’s CEO. In parallel, Sony and its computer entertainment division are actively courting the PlayStation® developer community. 71 developer/publishers have already signed on to develop over 100 titles. And last fall, SCEI and IBM announced a rack-mount version of a prototype Cell workstation for digital content creation that could hit 16 teraflops.

Toshiba, too, recently announced its Cell Chip Set and Cell Reference Set, putting the emphasis on its powerful broadband capabilities. “Software developers and other customers will be eager to make full use of Cell’s unsurpassed multitasking and real-time processing functions,” said Tomotaka Saito, General Manager of Broadband System LSI Division, Toshiba Corporation Semiconductor Company.

With the Cell heralding the new metric of “performance per watt”, SOI and advanced substrates are poised to enter an array of new markets.

For more information, see:
IBM: www.research.ibm.com/cell
Sony/SCEI: cell.scei.co.jp
Toshiba: www.toshiba.co.jp

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