Sony Corporation, Sony Computer Entertainment, IBM and Toshiba have officially announced the first details of their upcoming next-generation microprocessor, code-named Cell, and to be used in Sony's PlayStation 3 console.
In development for next-generation computer applications, consumer electronics, movies and other digital content, Cell will make use of a multicore chip comprising of a 64-bit Power processor core, multiple processor cores for massive floating point processing, and custom circuit design for increased performance.
The Cell processor design will feature support for multiple operating systems simultaneously, a flexible on-chip I/O (input/output) interface, 90 nanometer silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, and on-chip hardware for intellectual property protection. The processor will also host a real-time resource management system.
Ken Kutaragi, president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, commented: "In the future, all forms of digital content will be converged and fused onto the broadband network, and will start to explode. To access and/or browse [this] sea of content freely in real-time, more sophisticated GUI within the 3D world will become the 'key' in the future."
In other Cell news, IBM, Sony Corporation and Sony Computer Entertainment have revealed that the group has powered on the first Cell processor-based workstation. In prototype form, the workstation is the first planned computing application for the processor. IBM currently expects to begin pilot production of the Cell microprocessors at its 300mm wafer fabrication facility in New York, during the first-half of 2005. Using one rack, IBM and Sony expect the Cell-based workstation to reach a performance of 16 teraflops, or trillions of floating point calculations per second.
Sony’s Cell plans will see the group launching Cell-powered home servers for broadband content and high-definition television (HDTV) during 2006. Meanwhile, Toshiba’s plans will span a variety of applications, with its first Cell-based product, an HDTV, slated for a 2006 launch. However, no specific launch date has been mentioned for the Cell-powered PlayStation 3.
Further technical details for Cell are set to be unveiled at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), to be held from February 6th to 10th, 2005, in San Francisco.