Cell supercomputer chip shows promise

The supercomputer on a chip may one day make tasks like HD editing and graphics creation, faster and cheaper
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BM, Sony and Toshiba jointly developed the new Cell microchip, a supercomputer on a chip.

A new microprocessor that could one day make HD post-production tasks, such as editing and graphics creation, faster and cheaper recently debuted at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

Cell, the new microchip, is a supercomputer on a chip offering a tenfold boost in performance over the fastest PCs and CPUs available today.

The Cell is the result of a joint development project by IBM, Sony and Toshiba. The three began development of the chip in March 2001.

The prototype shown at the conference used a 64-bit PowerPC processor core along with eight separate processing cores to deliver the benefits of parallel processing, which include the ability to execute instructions in parallel rather than one after another resulting in faster performance and lower power consumption.

The massively parallel chip is likely to first show up in the consumer electronics market in video games but will have many other applications, including broadband Internet TV, interactive television and digital HDTV.

The Cell, or a chip like it, is a natural for processor tasks like NLE transitions, especially in HD, and real-time 3-D graphics generation.

For more information, visit www-1.ibm.com/businesscenter/venturedevelopment/us/en/featurearticle/gcl_xmlid/8649/nav_id/emerging.

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