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The Cell gets ready for the desktop, workstation and server market

Mercury Computer Systems has announced its Cell Accelerator Board, or CAB.  The CAB is based on the multi-billion dollar endeavor that is Cell BE, made famous by the Playstation 3. The CAB is a PCIe plug-in adaptor that fits in standard motherboards and cases today. 

Mercury claims the CAB provides approximately 180 GFLOPS -- though Mercury claims the CAB is specific to video and render processing.  Currently, the hardware is supported via Linux using the Mercury MultiCore Plus Advantage software libraries.   The card sports a  2.8GHz Cell BE processor, 1GB of XDRAM and 4GB of SDRAM. 

Mercury representatives claim the CAB is slated to retail for around $7,000.  Although this price seems high, it should be no surprise as IBM recently claimed that the company is lucky to get 20% yeilds on the Cell processor.

"We have been actively working with customers to migrate data-intensive applications to the Cell BE processor since late last year," said Randy Dean, Vice President, Business and Technology Development at Mercury. "With the CAB, customers can achieve supercomputer-like performance right inside their workstation."

The Cell used in the Mercury is based on the 90nm design process, but the Cell group (IBM, Toshiba and Sony) have already announced the Cell processor is moving to the 65nm process by next year.  The idea of plug-in accelerators has certainly picked up some steam in the last three months with AMD's backing.  Clearspeed also introduced a co-processor earlier this year for PCI-X acceleration, but Mercury's CAB is the first to use PCIe and the first to use Cell.

Mercury has a long-standing relationship with Cell.  The company was also the first to introduce Cell rack mount servers earlier this year.





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