| SAN FRANCISCO — At the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) on Monday (Feb. 7), IBM Corp., Sony Corp., Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., and Toshiba Corp. disclosed more details of the long-awaited "Cell" processor. |
A team of IBM, Sony, and Toshiba have collaborated on the development of the "Cell" microprocessor at a joint design center established in Austin, Texas, since March 2001. The device is aimed for entertainment and media applications — at speeds up to 10 times the performance of the latest PC processors.
Built around IBM's Power RISC-based processor technology, the "Cell" features a multicore architecture that provides clock speeds greater than 4-GHz.
The prototype "Cell" chip is 221-mm2 device. It integrates 234 million transistors and is fabricated with 90-nanometer silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and low-k dielectrics technologies.
A key to the architecture is the so-called Synergistic Processor Element (SPE), which is a SIMD-based technology. "The SPE can issue up to two instructions per cycle to seven execution units organized in two execution pipelines," according to a paper presented by the developers of "Cell."
It is said to support multiple operating systems, such as Linux, real-time operating systems and guest operating systems for specific applications simultaneously.
Initial production of "Cell" microprocessors is expected to begin at IBM's 300-mm wafer fabrication facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., followed by Sony's Nagasaki Fab, this year.