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Cell chip development 'almost done' - Toshiba

Massively parallel processor to 'change the world'

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'Cell', the massively parallel processing chip being developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba, is nearly done, Toshiba president Tadashi Okamura has revealed.

The chip will "change the world", he enthusiastically forecast in an interview with Japan's Nikkei Journal.

Work on the processor, which will form the basis for PlayStation 3, was formally announced in March 2001, but probably started some time before that. Almost three and a half years later, the chips is presumably nearing tape-out, since volume production isn't expected to take place until H1 2005.

PS3 is slated to be formally launched during Q1 2005, but Cell will appear in software development workstations later this year, IBM and Sony promised in May 2004.

Okamura's comments suggest that the trio of Cell partners are on course to meet that deadline.

For its part, Toshiba plans to incorporate Cell into "digital consumer electronics", according to Okamura, as will Sony. Such kit seems a long way from delivering Cell's claimed ability to scale from a few CPUs up to 64-way beasts capable of providing two teraflops. That may be further off - the partners first need to create an operating system capable of scaling immediately from one processor to hundreds, and that's clearly no easy task.

In may be some time yet before Cell changes the world. ®

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