IBM's CELL Processor: Preview to Greatness?



IBM, in cooperation with fellow industry giants Sony and Toshiba, recently announced a new processor, called the Cell. While this in itself is not really cause for much celebration (except perhaps for the odd bedfellows involved in the project) the new multi-core chip might well prove to be something special. For one thing, it’s going to be at the heart of Sony’s upcoming Playstation 3 console, which we have a feeling may be slightly popular…

The Cell processor is vastly different from conventional processors inside. This tiny chip contains a powerful 64-bit Dual-threaded IBM PowerPC core but also eight proprietary ‘Synergistic Processing Elements’ (SPEs), essentially eight more highly specialized mini-computers on the same die.

It’s these SPEs that make the Cell architecture special, as you might guess. IBM describes the product as a ‘System on a Chip.’ Like IBM’s Power5 processors, multi-processing is build right into the die.

PCstats is going to take a quick look at what’s currently known about the architecture of the Cell processor and its potential as a rival to today’s x86-based 32 and 64-bit processors.

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