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Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Toshiba Showcases Cell's Capabilities

Toshiba demonstrated a reference PC set for the next-generation microprocessor "Cell" at CEATEC JAPAN 2005.The Cell microprocessor is jointly developed by Toshiba, Sony and IBM.

The company showed the advanced processing capabilities of the new Cell processors when it is overloaded with demanding tasks such as HD video encoding/decoding. During the demonstration, the Cell reference PC Toshiba demonstrated that its Cell microprocessor is able to simultaneously decode 48 MPEG-2 MP@ML (720 x 480 30Hz max frame rate, sampling 4:2:0, 15MHZ Bitrate) streams.

The 48 MPEG-2 streams were stored on a HDD and were decoded and projected onto a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display divided into 8 x 6 cells, each of which showed a different video in each cell. The company expects the technology to be used to display thumbnails for a video list.

The Cell processor consists of a general-purpose POWERPC processor core connected to eight special-purpose DSP cores. These DSP cores are called "synergistic processing elements" (SPE). Six out of the eight SPEs are used for decoding 48 MPEG-2 streams and one is used for scaling the screen. The remaining SPEs can be used for a completely different processing function.

The Japanese company did not disclose more information about the reference Cell PC set. The PC box included a USB, IEEE1394, and an HDMI interface.

Cell processors will also be the heart of the upcoming Playstation 3 gaming console. According to Sony's announcements, the Cell-based device will be 10 times more powerful than PCs.

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