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Electronics Production | February 09, 2005

Sony, Toshiba, IBM unveils new super chip

At the International Solid State Circuits Conference, IBM, Sony Corporation, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Toshiba Corporation for the first time disclosed in detail the breakthrough multi-core architectural design - featuring supercomputer-like floating point performance with observed clock speeds greater than 4 GHz - of their jointly developed microprocessor code-named Cell.
A team of IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba engineers has collaborated on development of the Cell microprocessor at a joint design center established in Austin, Texas, since March 2001. The prototype chip is 221 mm(2), integrates 234 million transistors, and is fabricated with 90 nanometer SOI technology.

Cell's breakthrough multi-core architecture and ultra high-speed communications capabilities deliver vastly improved, real-time response for entertainment and rich media applications, in many cases 10 times the performance of the latest PC processors.

Effectively a "supercomputer on a chip" incorporating advanced multi-processing technologies used in IBM's sophisticated servers, Sony Group's computer entertainment systems and Toshiba's advanced semiconductor technology, Cell will become the broadband processor used for industrial applications to the new digital home.

Another advantage of Cell is to support multiple operating systems, such as conventional operating systems (including Linux), real-time operating systems for computer entertainment and consumer electronics applications as well as guest operating systems for specific applications, simultaneously.

Initial production of Cell microprocessors is expected to begin at IBM's 300mm wafer fabrication facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., followed by Sony Group's Nagasaki Fab, this year. IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba expect to promote Cell-based products including a broad range of industry-wide applications, from digital televisions to home servers to supercomputers.

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