Industry Group Claims Processing Revolution with Cell Chip
IBM, Sony, Toshiba Take the Wraps of Cell
by Anton Shilov
11/30/2004 | 03:06 PM
IBM, Sony Corporation and Toshiba Corporation unveiled for the first time some of the key concepts of the highly-anticipated advanced microprocessor, code-named Cell, they are jointly developing for next-generation computing applications, as well as digital consumer electronics.
Specifically, the companies confirmed that Cell is a multi-core 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. Sony presumably plans to use Cell processors in its forthcoming PlayStation 3 console.
The major highlights of the Cell processor design include:
Multi-thread, multicore architecture;
Supports multiple operating systems at the same time;
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 90nm 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.
Cell provides a solution by adopting flexible parallel and distributed computing architecture consisting of independent, multi-core floating point processors for rich media processing. With the capability to support multiple operating systems, Cell can perform both PC/WS operating systems as well as real-time CE/Game operating systems at the same time. Scalability offered by Cell can be utilized for broader applications, from small digital CE systems within the home to other entertainment applications for rendering movies, and to the big science applications as supercomputers.
The four companies also announced that they would reveal technical details of Cell at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) to be held from February 6th to 10th , 2005, in San Francisco.
In late May 2004 a report said that Sony Corporation had begun to produce microprocessors named Cell in its foundry in Nagasaki, Japan. The information was said to come from Sony executives, however, no additional details were revealed about the chip and trial production.
The first commercial Cell processors will be used in the forthcoming workstations designed mostly for game developers; these chips are expected to be made in IBM’s foundry in East Fishkill, New York. The chips pilot-produced at Sony’s fab in Nagasaki, Japan, are supposed to go inside Sony’s next-generation PlayStation3 console.