“IBM, Sony and Toshiba unveiled a new supercomputer-on-a-chip Monday that could disrupt Intel’s dominance of the computer industry and change the nature of digital entertainment,” Dean Takahashi reports for The San Jose Mercury News. “The Cell chip will first be used in Sony’s PlayStation 3 video console next year, with Toshiba planning to use the Cell in digital television sets and IBM intending to put it in computer servers and work stations in the near future.”
“The partners say the first Cell chips, which can simultaneously juggle multiple computing tasks, will have 10 times the processing power of comparable Intel chips. Eventually, the technology could pack the power of a supercomputer in a handheld device,” Takahashi reports. “That would mean consumers would be able to buy a machine that runs video games so realistically that players will feel like they are inside the animated world of, say, ‘Shrek 2.'”
“‘This is a shot across the bow for Intel,’ said Richard Doherty, an analyst at the Envisioneering Group, a consulting firm in Seaford, N.Y. ‘Intel still uses an architecture that came from a calculator chip,’ he said. ‘Cell comes from a clean sheet of paper, where the engineers had the freedom to design from scratch for machines that manipulate images.’ There is no indication that Intel has a response to the Cell chip in the works. On Monday, the Santa Clara chip maker, whose chips run 85 percent of the world’s PCs, said it will begin selling PC microprocessors with two processors on a single chip by summer,” Takahashi reports.
“No one expects the new Intel chips to have anywhere near the processing power of the Cell, which will be made by IBM and Sony… Analysts were intrigued that the Cell uses IBM technology that enables it to run any operating system,” Takahashi reports. “Kevin Krewell, editor of the Microprocessor Report, said that raises the possibility that Apple Computer, which already uses the PowerPC design upon which Cell is based, could use the new chips in future Macintosh computers. Of course, winning over Apple might be considered a small ambition for the IBM-Sony-Toshiba alliance. ‘Cell really represents a supercomputer on a chip,’ Kahle said.”
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