Toshiba demos Cell-equipped HDTV
What it's doing with the PS3 processor
CES Toshiba used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to explain why it plans to incorporate the PlayStation 3's Cell processor into future LCD TV products.
Tucked away in one corner of Toshiba's cavernous CES stand was a prototype Cell-equipped telly running a range of image processing demos. The Japanese giant showed two key apps: the ability to do multiple picture-in-picture and rather better standard definition upscaling than has been managed in the past.
Toshiba's Cell-fitted HDTV
Toshiba's pixel resolution enhancement, as the company put it, uses Cell's PowerPC "Power Processing Element" core and up to eight parallel processing "Synergistic Processor Element" engines to run more complex upscaling algorithms than current TVs and hi-def DVD players can handle.
Toshiba mentioned Cell's eight SPEs, but in the past it has said the Cell-based chips it will make and use in consumer electronics kit will have three SPEs. It announced its three-SPE "SpursEngine" chip in October 2007.
The upshot is a marked reduction in the artefacts - like jagged edges on text - that you get when today's HD tellies try to generate 1920 x 1080 pixels out of the 720 x 576 found in a typical standard-definition picture.
It's not hard to imagine the same technology being used to upscale HD pictures to even higher resolutions as TVs start to support the higher picture sizes.
Toshiba's demo certainly looked impressive, but we'd like to see it working in the real world before we make a judgement.
The consumer electronics giant also said Cell's multiple cores and is high bandwidth allow it to decode video streams simultaneously then combine them into a single multi-picture-in-picture image that can be displayed on the screen.
>so old hat
Old hat? Previous years tech used standard definition stuff at an order of magnitude lower bandwidth. It's still kind of a big thing, though admittedly not as much as it was.
NXP (the semiconductor spin off of Philips) just showed off a new processor at CES 2008 called the PNX5100. Each PNX5100 has 3 Trimedia 5-way 32-bit VLIW processor cores running at 350MHz. Assuming that it has 5 independent floating point multiply-accumulators inside, that's 3.5 GFLOPS peak (2 operations x 350MHz x 5-way VLIW).
For comparison, each SPE in a Cell runs at 3.2GHz and performs 4-way SIMD floating point operations. What that means is that every single cycle it can execute 8 floating point operations. That's 25.6 GFLOPS peak (2 operations x 3.2GHz x 4-way SIMD).
In short, a single SPE has just over 7x the performance of a single Trimedia processor core, and a single Cell has 8 of them.
In truth, Cell is totally overkill for this and they're probably only using it out of convenience since they just purchased Sony's Cell fabrication department. In the long run, Toshiba will likely end up using their SpursEngine with only 3 to 4 SPEs operating at somewhere between 1.5 and 2GHz, which at the low end will still be just about 4 times more floating point performance compared to the next generation NXP media processors.
so old hat
Philips have done this for years with multiple core media VLIW processors doing the fancy stuff in software. Very. Old. Hat. But maybe it means Sony can sell a few more Cell chips because a run rate of a million or so a year is paltry, getting them in tellies could double the sales.
word on street....
says that it'll be able to view ALL the channels that it can receive on the DVB streams - as each multiplex throws the MPEGII's into the TV.
what COULD be very cool is if its got blu-ray and the actual PS3 intergrated into it. wireless controllers, wireless broadband etc all in the TV. that could be a 2008 must buy.
PiP is useful
> Seriously, who uses PiP anyway? Stupid marketing gimmicks
> aside, how is it at all practical for to watch something in the
> corner of the screen with no audio.
I frequently use PiP to play a video game fullscreen, while listening to news (talking head shows) in a small window.
PiP should come with AiA -- audio in audio. On a modern 7.1 type audio setup, you could place the different shows in different spatial locations; I'm pretty sure the brain can process that better than straight mixed audio. Watching 3 shows with spacially separated audio would be like standing between 3 conversations at a party: you pay attention to one, miss most of the other 2, but if someone says something of interest to you, you tend to notice.
AiA could degrade reasonably smoothly on an old stereo setup (can still do some spatial placement with phase alone); and straight mixing on mono would be useful in some cases. Hell, I often wish I could mix two stations on my car stereo -- one talk show + one music show.
I should patent all these ideas instead of giving them away like this. Sheeze. If you design and market something based on these ideas, please at least give me one....
CRTs have always run at higher res than LCDs, with the exception of a few specialty devices. I imagine that is because CRTs can change resolution to whatever a user wants to see (My mom used to run 800x600 on a 17 inch...) wheras an LCD has a fixed native resolution, so we just get common-denominator displays. My laptop has something like 140 DPI, and you could use that to fit a hell of a lot more pixels on a 19 inch LCD than 1280x1024. But then my mom couldn't read it.
For TVs I imagine that there is just no driving force for higher res, since until very recently people couldn't even get content higher than DVD res.
To brag a little, my 7 year old 24 inch (22.5 viewable) CRT runs at 2304x1440, 80Hz refresh. Lets see a 24 inch LCD do something like that. And I'm not even going to start talking about color or black levels...