IBM, Toshiba and Sony announced in 2001 a joint effort to develop a computing core that would allow for mass simultaneous task execution. The three companies are spending billions to make this new computing platform a reality and today jointly announced their plans to bring this technology to market. The three industry giants are planning to produce the CELL processor and use it to run next-generation computers, game consoles and high definition televisions.
Sony said it would launch home servers and high-definition televisions powered by Cell in 2006 and reiterated plans to use the microchip to power the next-generation PlayStation game console, a working version of which will be unveiled in May.
Toshiba said it planned to launch a high-definition TV using Cell in 2006.
IBM announced plans to first use the chip in a workstation it is developing with Sony, targeting the digital content and entertainment industries.
Specifically, the companies confirmed that Cell is a multicore chip comprising a 64-bit Power processor core and multiple synergistic processor cores capable of massive floating point processing. Cell is optimized for compute-intensive workloads and broadband rich media applications, including computer entertainment, movies and other forms of digital content.
Other highlights of the Cell processor design include:
- Multi-thread, multicore architecture.
- Supports multiple operating systems.
- Substantial bus bandwidth to/from main memory, as well as companion chips.
- Flexible on-chip I/O (input/output) interface.
- Real-time resource management system for real-time applications.
- On-chip hardware in support of security system for intellectual property protection.
- Implemented in 90 nanometer (nm) silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology.
Additionally, Cell uses custom circuit design to increase overall performance, while supporting precise processor clock control to enable power savings.