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Friday, November 11, 2005
Cell Processor to Support Linux


IBM and Sony have released new software components and documentation for the Cell processor, including extensions to Linux that support Cell programming.

These resources are jointly located on developerWorks (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/power/cell/), IBM's forum for developers and the University of Barcelona Supercomputing Center (http://www.bsc.es/projects/deepcomputing/linuxoncell/) and will also be published through http://cell.scei.co.jp/ run by SCEI (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc).

The Cell processor was originally devised by IBM, Sony and Toshiba. Delivering on a promise, IBM, Sony and Toshiba in August released the first detailed specifications for the Cell microprocessor.

One month later, Toshiba said it is readying a hardware development platform for applications based on the Cell processor. The reference design kit, and the cell chip set, will be available from April 2006.

Now, IBM and Sony are providing the Linux operating system, compilers and utilities for the Cell Broadband Engine microprocessor.

The CBE (Cell Broadband Engine Architecture) Linux Reference Implementation Application Binary Interface Specification, V1.0 has been published simultaneously. IBM is distributing source patches for the Linux operating system.

Sony is distributing compilers and other technology. This code contains the GNU Compiler Collection (gcc) compiler for the SPE implemented by Sony.

This supports the standards defined in the SPU C/C++ Language Extensions V2.0, SPU Application Binary Interface Specification V1.3, and Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU) Instruction Set Architecture V1.0 documents previously released.

The companies also released the Cell Broadband Engine Software Development Kit, including a simulator. The IBM Full System Simulator executable provides a rich set of capabilities for architecture simulation of the processor, according to IBM.

It also made available a prototype compiler, which is based on IBM's compilation technology for its Power Architecture. This compiler supports a tuned implementation for the PPE and SPE of the CBE processor and implements the standards defined in the SPU C/C++ Language Extensions V2.0, SPU Application Binary Interface Specification V1.3, and Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU) Instruction Set Architecture V1.0 documents previously released.

"This joint effort by IBM, Toshiba and the Sony Group to build the Cell development infrastructure is an important step into the future," said Masakazu Suzuoki, deputy senior vice president, Semiconductor Development Division, SCEI. "I believe that it will not only strongly support PlayStation but consumer electronics business as well."


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