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The Cell/B.E. technology will now extend into Toshiba video applications  (Source: DailyTech)
Toshiba will be using PlayStation 3 CPU technology in its notebook PCs

The Cell Broadband Processor, jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, is the driving force behind the PlayStation 3 and high-end blade servers. While the chip is mainly used as a CPU in existing applications, Toshiba is planning to extend the Cell Brodband Engine’s base technology into graphics.

Toshiba’s specialized version of the technology, dubbed “SpursEngine,” will utilize similar Synergistic Processing Element (SPE) cores as found in the Cell/B.E.

The SpursEngine will only include four SPE cores, rather than the full eight cores of the Cell/B.E. chip. New to Toshiba’s own chip will be dedicated hardware for decoding and encoding MPEG-2 and H.264 video.

“By combining the high level, real time processing software of the SPEs with the hardware video codecs, the SpursEngine realizes an optimized balance of processing flexibility and low power consumption,” Toshiba wrote in its press release.

The prototype of SpursEngine operates at a clock frequency of 1.5GHz and consumes power at 10 to 20 watts. In contrast, the Cell/B.E. processor found inside every PlayStation 3 operates at 3.2GHz. Like the PlayStation 3, however, the SpursEngine will also make use of Rambus XDR DRAM as working memory.

In its announcement, Toshiba said that it would demonstrate at the CEATEC JAPAN 2007 conference its new chip in action inside notebook PC, showing off “the processor's capabilities in 3D image processing and manipulation: real-time transformations of hair styles and makeup that instantaneously recognize and process changes in position, angle, and facial expression, and render them as computer graphics.”

Toshiba’s decidedly lower-cost take on the existing Cell/B.E. hint that the SpursEngine will find into more than just PCs. Toshiba may one day use its SpursEngine way in its mainstream consumer electronics devices, such as its HD DVD players.



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That would be hilarious
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2007 12:25:44 PM , Rating: 5
If the CPU that powers the device at the forefront of the Blu-ray format (PS3) also went into HD-DVD players.




RE: That would be hilarious
By squeezee on 9/25/2007 1:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be even more hilarious if the company pushing HD-DVD players designed the CPU that powers the device at the forefront of the Blu-ray format (PS3).


RE: That would be hilarious
By Carl B on 9/25/2007 1:34:40 PM , Rating: 4
Why would it be hilarious? Afterall, they both designed it. Toshiba could have been using a Cell in HD DVD players the whole time if they had wanted to.


RE: That would be hilarious
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2007 1:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
True but Toshiba hasn't been. And it would be hilarious if the chip that powers the device championing the rival format were to be the source of its undoing since, in essence, Sony's own technology would be used against them.


RE: That would be hilarious
By Lonyo on 9/25/07, Rating: 0
RE: That would be hilarious
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2007 3:33:52 PM , Rating: 3
Yes. Because few know that Toshiba has anything to do with Cell.


RE: That would be hilarious
By Gul Westfale on 9/25/2007 8:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
i thought toshiba was already selling HDTVs with a cell-derived media processor, if so then this laptop thingie would just be the next logical step for them.


RE: That would be hilarious
By Praze on 9/25/2007 11:18:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, this does seem quite ironic, much like you cant buy a Mac without an intel processor in it nowadays. I think it's a little more questionable why sony isnt mass marketing this archetechture into all of it's laptops, blu-ray players and the like... Interesting ballance (or lack thereof) they've found here...


HTPC
By Etsp on 9/25/2007 12:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to see a HTPC with one of these in it. In fact, there has been a lot of talk about AMD's CPU's being able to utilize a separate co-processor with HT...if they could utilize one of these, that would be the ultimate HTPC.




RE: HTPC
By murphyslabrat on 9/25/07, Rating: -1
RE: HTPC
By omnicronx on 9/25/2007 1:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Uhm, that would be a ridiculous waste of money. And, if BD devices cost what they do now, I wouldn't want to pay an extra 50-200 dollars (I don't know what they actually cost, maybe more like $1000?) to get functionality that is already present in the system.

UM?? StandAlone BD players do not contain a cell processor, blue laser diode is what costs them the extra cash, and they still overcharge what they are really worth.
It really wouldnt be that bad of an idea to have a cell processor like the OP was saying. It could be used purely for say physics or use it as a low powered chip to use for onboard features when the main system is off (like being able to continue downloads when the system is off much like the 360)


RE: HTPC
By murphyslabrat on 9/27/2007 6:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
I never implied that Blu-Ray devices did. In fact, I was saying that if they did, they would cost a pretty bundle over what they do now. I then proceeded to muse about a hotswap-CoPU that would allow you to share a Cell processor between a few computers.


RE: HTPC
By softwiz on 9/25/2007 1:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
If you want MS Windows on this HTPC, I don't see it happening since I'm unaware of any version of Windows that runs on a RISC (non CISC based, X86 architecture) chip. However, many other OS choices would likely be quite suitable.


RE: HTPC
By Etsp on 9/25/2007 1:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
Thats why I mentioned the part about AMD talking about the ability to use co-processors. Use this chip as the media encoding co-processor and you can use a really cheap AMD chip to run windows. Unless the concept is a bit more complex than I think it is...


RE: HTPC
By Kuroyama on 9/25/2007 2:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
From the DT article is sounds to me like they're going to use this as a GPU, not a CPU, but since there's no links then I can't be sure.


RE: HTPC
By Carl B on 9/25/2007 4:02:49 PM , Rating: 3
Dailytech portrayed it incorrectly. This isn't a graphics chip; it would be better to think of it as a media accelerator.

http://www.beyond3d.com/content/news/486


Let's get the facts strait
By theapparition on 9/25/2007 4:36:32 PM , Rating: 3
The Cell is an incredible processor, to do certain operations. It is NOT a general purpose CPU. Yes, you can do general operations on Cell, but they may take far longer than on a regular CPU. It all depends on the operation. Same thing goes for GPU's. They are very specialized, massively parallel number crunchers.

There is a place for all of these technologies, one isn't designed to replace the other, rather compliment it.
In terms of raw parallel calculation power, nothing touches today's GPU's, and this Toshiba offering is not meant to overpower them, nor will you ever find this on a computer add-in card. This is meant to be a very low power device, that has all the power necessary to do HD, interactive simulations, and some general operations. This is something that Toshiba is gearing towards consumer devices.




RE: Let's get the facts strait
By Hoser McMoose on 9/25/2007 9:31:57 PM , Rating: 1
I'm actually somewhat suprrised that it took as long as it did for someone to bring The Cell (or a derivative there-of) to a graphics processing design. Really the design of the chip is more suited to that than it is to general purpose processing.
quote:
In terms of raw parallel calculation power, nothing touches today's GPU's, and this Toshiba offering is not meant to overpower them

The Toshiba offering, with 4 SPEs at 1.5GHz is unlikely to overpower a modern GPU, however a full-fledge Cell could well do so.

With 8 SPEs clocked at 3.2GHz, a Cell chip could manage about 200GFlops of single percision calculations and it has 25GB/s of memory bandwidth. A top-end GeForce 8800 GTX could manage somewhere around 300-350GFlops and 86GB/s of bandwidth. So obviously the Cell isn't quite there, but drop down to something like the GeForce 8600 GTS and it's much closer. That graphics chip manages about 90-100GFlops and has 32GB/s of memory bandwidth.

Obviously there's a LOT more to it than just these numbers. In fact these days drivers probably play as big a role as hardware does in determining performance. But with a bit of smart design and some good drivers there's no reason why a Cell derivative wouldn't make a halfway decent graphics processor.


RE: Let's get the facts strait
By FITCamaro on 9/26/2007 3:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
You say it yourself, there more to it than the numbers. Cell alone would likely make a poor GPU. Todays DX10 graphics cards are highly threaded. Something Cell is terribly suited for. Also if you view each SPE as a pipeline, you're talking about an 8 pipeline architecture all routed through a single crappy PowerPC core.

Cell would make it as a low end GPU. But it wouldn't compete with even a midrange GPU. Not in a general OS environment. Maybe in an environment like a games console where code is optimized specifically for that platform.

Sony had originally boasted that the PS3 wouldn't need a GPU. Look how that turned out. It probably could have, but not done that and maintained the graphics quality people expected from this generation of consoles. Maybe a series of them could do it, but not a single one. And 8 SPE Cell's aren't cheap. The 4 SPE Cell's Toshiba will likely use are rejects where only 4-5 of the 8 actually worked.


RE: Let's get the facts strait
By FITCamaro on 9/26/2007 3:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
This would make an excellent add-in chip for laptops. It would allow full HD video decoding abilities in laptops with lower power CPUs and integrated graphics chips. Just the software would have to be written to utilize it.

It doesn't have to be the graphics card though. It could function as a low end integrated graphics chip though if a driver was written.


Ehh......
By Bull Dog on 9/25/2007 4:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In contrast, the Cell/B.E. processor found inside every PlayStation 3 operates at 3.2GHz.


It does? Seems if I recall correctly Sony had to drop the speed to 2.8GHz due to yield issues.




RE: Ehh......
By Carl B on 9/25/2007 4:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
But you recall incorrectly; that was only ever a rumor, and indeed the chip runs at 3.2GHz.


Another contender?!
By Samus on 9/26/2007 6:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
I really hope Toshiba makes something out of this, because if there is a possibility that this will have decent performance in DirectX/OpenGL applications, it would be wonderful to have somebody compete with nVidia and ATI again.




connect the dots
By Screwballl on 9/25/07, Rating: -1
RE: connect the dots
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 9/25/2007 3:35:42 PM , Rating: 3
You're not going to like it, but Rambus is practically in everything these days -- in one way or another. AMD, IBM, Sony, Toshiba, TI, Fujitsu...

They're almost inseparable from modern memory tech these days; but maybe a little more low key.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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