The Future of Computing - The Cell Processor

Posted by Kaya Kupferschmidt • Friday, January 21. 2005 • Category: Hardware
Many people already have heard of the legendary Cell Project initiated by Sony, IBM and Toshiba. This project is about creating a new CPu with a radically different approach - but not many details emerged until now.

Nicholas Blachford investigated in this subject and studied the patant papers about the Cell processor, and he ended up with a very informative article about the design.

If the Cell processor is only getting half as fast as predicted in the article, we can all throw away our PCs and workstations. I foresee that there will be many universities installing PS3 clusters for scientific calculations, like the small PS2 cluster built by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois.

The Cell processor will consist of one standard CPU (probably an IBM Power CPU) and 4 or 8 additional processing units comparaible to pixel shaders in GPUs. And these processing units will be responsible for the unparalleled speed of the Cell. They are high speed 128bit vector processors operating on local memory and they will be integrated on the same die together with the controller CPU. The expected processing power for an 8 unit configuration is about 250 GFLOP! As a comparison a normal PC with highly optimized code can only achieve about 6 GFLOP.



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