Toshiba lets out Cell TV titbits
Set to be shouted about in H2
CES Toshiba today re-iterated its plan to introduce tellies based on the Cell processor later this year, pronouncing the PlayStation 3 technology "the future of television".
It didn't provide all the details, alas, but Toshiba did reveal rather more than it has before about the top-of-the-range TVs that will use Cell and ship under the Regza brand.
Interestingly, it'll be a two-unit offering comprising a skinny panel with all the internals in a separate set-top box. The panel with have a resolution of 3820 x 2160 - four times that of a standard full HD set.
Handling the 1080p upscaling will be the Cell in the set-top box. Like Toshiba's current Resolution+ upscaling tech - itself derived from Cell components - Cell will apply some clever algorithms that will yield a '4k by 2k' picture that doesn't look upscaled - "no artefacts" - Toshiba claimed.
Resolution+ can do this too, but Cell can do it in a third of the time, giving it headroom to also cast up a 3D animated UI on the panel and to handle the DVR-style recording of six HD TV channels simultaneously.
The set-top box will also be able to stream said recordings across a local network to other screens - more than one at once, too - and has SD card, USB, DNLA and internet TV support. Phew.
Back to the panel, and it'll have an array of LED backlights behind it instead of edge-mounted illumination, the better to run the backlight in harmony with the picture being shown on the panel.
When will all this telly goodness arrive? In the past, Toshiba has pointed to a late 2009 release, but at CES the company simply said the Cell-based TVs will be "marketed in 2009", which isn't necessarily the same thing as selling it. We shall see. ®
The cell is like the laser
Some time ago I read a hack on el Reg or the Inq say that IBM hoodwinked Sony and Toshiba into paying for the development of a high power HPC chip that IBM could then sell at a massive markup in serious compute machines.
I can't imagine why I would care what processor is inside a TV. Toshiba made noise some months ago about putting 4 SPU cores and no PPU core inside a DTR laptop, very expensive. But I can run CUDA code on the GPU in some laptops for much less money... and is a laptop really the proper platform for high power computation?
Now Toshiba heralds the Cell TV. Who cares?
Toshiba should do three things:
1) Commoditize Cell tech (like the ARM is a commodity processor) in which case the end user does not care that it is Cell tech.
2) Offer Cell based HPC compute machines to the market. IBM charges way too much for Cell HPC boxes and Toshiba can make money in that market even while it drives the price down.
3) Offer a standard issue PCIe/SATA personal computer running Linux plus a C SPU SDK using a full blown Cell CPU (not an x86 + a Cell, just a Cell) to the market. The average punter will not buy it, but I bet there are a few hundred thousand scientists who write simulation and analysis code who would step up.
WRT to (2) and (3) I point out that there are many scientists who have used collections of PS3's running Linux to do serious scientific computation. They paid about $400CDN per PS3. There is a demand for this processor at a reasonably affordable price. If PS3 sells at about a $100 loss, then Toshiba could just charge a couple hundred more for a machine that runs Linux native, not on an emulation layer like PS3. I think it would sell well.
Outside PS3 and IBM's expensive boxes the Cell is currently a solution looking for a problem.
Well there are obviously 8 Titbits in a Titbyte........
But how many times can you Byte said airbags?
I'm drooling onto my keyboard right now.
@ Charles: The lag can't be any worse than my current LCD (80ms!)
what fraction of a Bulgarian airbag is a titbit?
If they're releasing titbits its unlikely to go titsup.
Paris, cause, well... tits.