The Cell project which IBM, Sony and Toshiba began researching in 2001 is reaching a critical stage. Depending on which sources you read, chips could begin shipping as early as 2004.
TurboTas understands that the already eagerly awaited PlayStation3 could use the chip at it's core.
'Who Cares' I hear you cry, 'I'm not botherd about whats in a PS3!'. Think again, perhaps: It's consistently the games console and games market in general that pushes the consumer technology to it's limits. GFX cards, CPU's, Memory, Networks. Modern games tax all these things to the outer limits.
Okay, to the meat: the Cell technology is based around very high speed cores with phenomenal speed broadband interconnects. The massivley parallel devices can be multi core on a die (Probably up to 64 for big server blades) and also use the broadband to talk off die.
Some numbers? Okay, a 64 core chip in something like a graphics server will be able to deliver 2 Teraflops. Ultimatley, this should lead to a single cabinet in the machine room being capable of 16 Teraflops. In context 2200 G5's can cluster to deliver around 10 Teraflops. This is pretty fast the G5 itself is no slouch: IBM's Power PC 970 chip is phenomenal.
IBM Press Release
STI cell processor defined
Two years ago, Sony and Toshiba and IBM (STI) announced that they had teamed up to design an architecture for what is termed a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design. Code-named Cell, chips based on the architecture will be able to use ultra high-speed broadband connectivity to interoperate with one another as one complete system, similar to the way neural cells interoperate over the brain's network.
Market demand for STI cell processor
IBM expects Cell to define an entirely new way of operating. Cell's underlying architecture will enable it to manifest itself into many forms for many purposes, helping to open up a whole new set of applications. Incorporating this architecture, chips will be developed for everything from handheld devices to mainframe computers.
IBM strategy with STI cell processor
IBM has an unmatched history and capability of building custom chips and believes the one-size-fits-all model of the PC does not apply in the embedded space; embedded applications will require a flexible architecture, like Cell. Cell also brings together, for the first time, many leading-edge IBM chip technologies and circuit designs developed for its servers.
STI cell processor benefits
Cell will take advantage of IBM's most advanced semiconductor development and process technologies. These cells will deliver high performance while consuming small quantities of power.