| LONDON — Toshiba Corporation is readying a hardware development platform for applications based on the Cell processor that it co-developed with Sony and IBM. The reference design kit, and the cell chip set, will be available from April 2006. |
This time-scale suggests Sony will have sole use of the Cell processor with the PlayStation 3 consoles until products using the hardware design platform reach commercial phase. The PS3 is scheduled to start shipping early next year.
Toshiba says it is targeting companies designing consumer electronics and communications products “that draw on the powerful broadband capabilities of the Cell microprocessor,” and its “unsurpassed multitasking and real-time processing functions."
The so-called ‘Cell Reference Set’ development platform will incorporate a Cell processor, peripheral chips mounted on a PCB with a general-use interface, peripheral equipment such as DVD and HDD drives, and cooling equipment.
Toshiba dubs the peripheral chip package the ‘Super Companion Chip’ that includes audio and image interfaces supporting Cell's high data transfer capability. The chip also supports interfaces for various systems (video, audio input/output, digital AV interface, IEEE1394, digital tuner interface) as well as interfaces that make it easier to connect standard input/output devices.
The platform is based on the Linux and ITRON operating systems. These run on virtual machines on the platform’s core ‘Hypervisor’ OS that manages hardware resources. Toshiba says this approach allows easy re-use of application property.