New Chip Expected to Accelerate Home Entertainment

IBM, Sony and Toshiba have released details about their jointly developed "Cell" microprocessor, a new multicore chip featuring a 64-bit processor core, multiple OS support, increased bus bandwidth to and from main memory and a flexible on-chip I/O interface. Originally announced in 2001, the companies expect the new chip to dramatically increase storage, bandwidth and memory power in consumer electronics ranging from computers to games and TVs.

IBM expects to begin manufacturing the chips at its 300mm wafer fabrication facility in 2005 and is working with SCEI to develop a Cell-based workstation. In 2006, Sony plans to launch servers for broadband content and HDTV using Cell technology. Sony Computer Entertainment expects to launch a computer entertainment system powered by Cell. Toshiba is planning to launch a Cell-based HDTV in 2006.

The four companies will share technical details at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in February in San Francisco. Cell was designed at an Austin, Texas-based joint development lab.