Sony, Toshiba, and IBM will reveal technical details on the Cell microprocessor that will be at the core of the next-gen console.
TOKYO--For the past three years, Sony, Toshiba, and IBM have been codeveloping the "Cell" chip, an advanced microprocessor that will be used for the PlayStation 3. However, the corporate triumvirate have strongly guarded the technical details on the microprocessor.
That will soon end. The three companies released a joint statement today, announcing that they will unveil the next-generation chip at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), which runs from February 6 to 10, 2005, in San Francisco. Details on the Cell will be disclosed in four technical papers scheduled for presentation at the Conference.
So far, what the three companies have revealed about the Cell is that it is a multicore chip featuring a 64-bit power processor core with multiple synergistic processor cores capable of massive floating point processing. The chip is optimized for intensive applications and also excels in broadband-rich media applications, including games and other forms of digital content, such as movies.
Cell processors will also have the ability to operate together as a cluster and act as one huge parallel-processing unit to handle massive data required for complex calculations. The cluster can be divided into smaller groups, each carrying out different tasks.
The Cell has a number of other features and capabilities as well, including:
- Simultaneous support of multiple operating systems
- Real-time resource-management system for real-time applications
- Multithread, multicore architecture
- On-chip hardware in support of security system for intellectual property protection
- Flexible on-chip I/O (input/output) interface
- Custom circuit design to increase overall performance
- Precise processor clock control to enable power savings
- Substantial bus bandwidth to/from main memory, as well as companion chips
- Implemented in 90-nanometer (nm) silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology
Sony, Toshiba, and IBM also announced today that they have successfully created the first Cell processor-based workstation prototype, which they originally announced at E3. In the future, the companies expect that a one-rack Cell-based workstation will reach a performance of 16 teraflops of floating point calculations per second.
"We have a supercomputer on a chip," IBM designer Jim Kahle told the San Jose Mercury News
. "This will be significantly faster than previous types of game systems and should provide new effects." Sony Computer Entertainment CTO Masayuki Chatani, was less modest, saying, "The Cell processor-based workstation will totally change the digital content creation environment."
Coincidentally, the three companies will be unveiling details on the Cell chip one month before Sony is expected to unveil the PlayStation 3 in Japan. Americans will get their first look at the still officially unnamed console at E3 2005 in Los Angeles.