Computer Processors

  Home arrow Computer Processors arrow Cell Inside, the Future of Processor A...
Watch our Tech Videos 
Dev Hardware Forums 
Computer Cases  
Computer Processors  
Computer Systems  
Digital Cameras  
Flat Panels  
Gaming  
Hardware Guides  
Hardware News  
Input Devices  
Memory  
Mobile Devices  
Motherboards  
Networking Hardware  
Opinions  
PC Cooling  
PC Speakers  
Peripherals  
Power Supply Units  
Software  
Sound Cards  
Storage Devices  
Tech Interviews  
User Experiences  
Video Cards  
Weekly Newsletter
 
Developer Updates  
Free Website Content 
 RSS  Articles
 RSS  Forums
 RSS  All Feeds
Write For Us 
Contact Us 
Site Map 
Privacy Policy 
Support 
 USERNAME
 
 PASSWORD
 
 
  >>> SIGN UP!  
  Lost Password? 
COMPUTER PROCESSORS

Cell Inside, the Future of Processor Architecture
By: Developer Shed
  • Search For More Articles!
  • Disclaimer
  • Author Terms
  • Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 216
    2005-06-29

    Table of Contents:
  • Cell Inside, the Future of Processor Architecture
  • Cell Architecture
  • PowerPC Processing Element (PPE)
  • Synergistic Processing Element (SPE)
  • Element Interface Bus (EIB)
  • The Future of Cell and x86
  • It's the Software

  • Rate this Article: Poor Best 
      ADD THIS ARTICLE TO:
      Del.ici.ous Digg
      Blink Simpy
      Google Spurl
      Y! MyWeb Furl
    Email Me Similar Content When Posted
    Add Developer Shed Article Feed To Your Site
    Email Article To Friend
    Print Version Of Article
    PDF Version Of Article
     
     

    SEARCH DEV HARDWARE

    Cell Inside, the Future of Processor Architecture


    (Page 1 of 7 )

    A few days ago, IBM explained that they would open the design specifications and software libraries for their Cell processor, which is still in development. The Cell processor represents an incredible leap in computing technology, and it is debuting in the consumer market next year inside the Playstation 3. So how is the Cell processor so different from AMD’s and Intel’s x86 chips? And what is so significant about opening up the hardware?

    The Cell Processor

    The Cell processor is being developed jointly by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM. The first two are obviously interested in its multimedia capacities, which look like they will be stunning. The last, IBM, is a good member to round out the group due to their background in manufacturing large volumes of high-end processors.

    To demonstrate the capacity of the unfinished Cell, Toshiba released a video in April of a computer decoding 48 streams of video simultaneously. The screen was divided into a grid of thumbnails at 1920x1080 resolution, each playing a separate SDTV mpeg-2.

    Needless to say, this is a little more than my own modest Athlon could ever handle. To use this multimedia power, Toshiba plans to install these chips into upcoming TVs. Yet this demo doesn’t demonstrate what the processor could do for computers, which is obviously where the chip is creating a buzz.

    Earlier this week, IBM agreed to lisence Cell to Mercury Computer Systems Inc. Mercury says they expect Cell to be three to four times faster than rival chips that are scheduled to be released in the next few years. Mercury produces medical and military equipment, and they plan to use Cell for a wide variety of applications, from missile radar systems to magnetic resonance image (MRI) scanners.

    Sony’s upcoming Playstation 3, coming out next year, has been known already to be the debut of a consumer Cell product. It might give everyone an idea of how well an early Cell system can crunch numbers and render polygons.

    So How Fast is It?

    So far, current processors from AMD and Intel are having trouble pushing the 4 GHz mark, a mark Cell is easily clocked past. The PS3 at the E3 2005 demo has a Cell clocked down to a stable 3.2 GHz, providing 218 GFLOPS of power (and the graphics card in the PS3 provides 1.8 TFLOPS). It's also impossible to say what features have been removed or simplified in order to get this version of the Cell chip ready soon. However, Cell development is clocking it at 4 to 4.6 GHz, and is reported to have clocked it as high as 5.6 GHz. Of course, clock speed is not the only factor in a processor's performance, so don't take these figures as anything conclusive.

    Altogether the Cell processor is a crowded little chip, with a whopping 234 million transistors (compare to AMD64’s 114 million transistors). The potential processing power of Cell blows away existing processors, even supercomputers. One Cell working alone has the potential of reaching 256 GFLOPS (gigaflops, processing 256 billion floating point operations per second). GFLOPS are benchmarked with a program called Linpack and are mostly usefull for comparing supercomupters. To compare, your home PC would be extremely lucky to reach 6 GFLOPS, unless you count your graphics card. This isn't to say that GFLOPS on the Cell and on your home PC provide an accurate way to judge exact performance specs. It's more of a cursory comparison.

    The world’s 500th fastest computer (registered on http://www.top500.org) is a SuperDome by Hewlett-Packard. Most supercomputers use arrays of many machines, and the SuperDome array only reaches 850 GFLOPS. A handful of Cells could put it to shame. Of course, to make a balanced comparison, the fastest supercomputer is currently IBM’s BlueGene/L running at 70720 GFLOPS. Supercomputers should eventually make use of Cell architecture, stacking these processors to blow away old processing records. In fact, Cell is specially engineered to work cooperatively with other machines.

    Though there aren't really any more Cell demonstrations, there is plenty of information on the general structure and capabilities of the chip. The most outstanding difference between Cell and current technologies is that a normal CPU in a computer or game console has, of course, one processing unit that churns through one thread of data. Cell can run through many threads of data at a time through the eight (that’s right, eight!) data processing units within a single chip.

    More Computer Processors Articles
    More By Developer Shed

    blog comments powered by Disqus

    COMPUTER PROCESSORS ARTICLES

    - Intel Unveils Itanium 9500 Processors
    - Intel`s Ultra-Quick i5 and i7 Processors Ava...
    - Intel Nehalem
    - VIA Nano
    - Intel Atom
    - Intel Celeron 420
    - Intel Pentium E2140
    - Inside the Machine by Jon Stokes
    - Chip History from 1970 to Today
    - A Brief History of Chips
    - Intel Shows Off at Developer Forum
    - Core 2 Quadro Review
    - Core Concepts
    - AMD Takes on Intel with AM2 and HT
    - Intel Presler 955: Benchmarking the First 65...

    Developer Shed Affiliates

     




    © 2003-2014 by Developer Shed. All rights reserved. DS Cluster - Follow our Sitemap
    KEITHLEE2zdeconfigurator/configs/INFUSIONSOFT_OVERLAY.phpzdeconfigurator/configs/ OFFLOADING INFUSIONSOFTLOADING INFUSIONSOFT 1debug:overlay status: OFF
    overlay not displayed overlay cookie defined: TI_CAMPAIGN_1012_D OVERLAY COOKIE set:
    status off