Modified Cell processor will add new features to the notebooks not seen before

The Cell processor first debuted in the Sony PS3 and now is starting to see uses outside of the PS3 gaming console.

Toshiba announced a pair of laptops that will use processors derived from the Cell processor used in the PS3. The Toshiba Qosmio G50 and F40 notebooks will use four of the Synergistic Processing Elements (SPE) from the Cell Broadband Processor. By comparison, the Cell processor in the PS3 has eight of the SPE cores (seven functional) and uses a Power PC main processor.

The modified Cell processor SPE cores will handle the heavy calculations required to handle processor-intensive duties like processing HD video. The main processor in the pair of notebooks will be an Intel Core 2 Duo.

PC World says that by integrating the modified Cell processor into the notebooks Toshiba will be able to offer features not seen on competing notebooks. The new features will include the ability to upscale standard definition video to HD, real-time transcoding of digital video to MPEG4 and the ability to burn video to DVD in half the time needed by current machines.

One particularly interesting feature the Cell processor allows is called face navigation. The notebooks will be able to recognize faces in a video and display them as thumbnails allowing users to find chapters and scenes using faces.

PC World reports that the Cell processor will also allow the onboard webcam to be used to control video playback with hand gestures. The Qosmio G50 will have an 18.4-inch screen, GeForce 9600M graphics, 500GB HDD, dual digital TV tuners and more with a retail price of $2,700. The F50 will use a 15-inch screen and have a 250GB HDD with a retail price of around $2,300. The notebooks will be sold in Japan, but details on the launch are unavailable.

IBM’s record breaking Roadrunner supercomputer also takes advantage of a modified Cell processor to speed its performance.

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