IBM announced it would offer new design services to help companies integrate the microprocessor technology known as Cell into a wide range of electronics products ?especially where image-hungry applications are critical, such as the aerospace, defence, industrial or medical segments.
Custom design services for Cell from IBM will encompass:
- system architecture and design;
- chip, module and board development;
- expanded blade design;
- power, mechanical, electrical, thermal, industrial design;
- firmware and Linux driver development;
- worldwide regulatory and agency industry standards testing;
- interoperability and compatibility testing;
- and manufacturability, reliability and serviceability.
Companies interested in Cell can gain access to information and design expertise through IBM E&TS, which has 1300 engineers on staff and a number of Power Architecture design centers around the world. These services also will be offered through IBM's consultants and industry-specific teams.
IBM E&TS clients using these new services will be able to access a Cell software simulation environment through IBM's Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The prototype Cell microprocessor produced using 90nm process technology incorporates one dual-threaded PowerPC core and eight so-called synergistic processing units (SPEs) intended for floating-point calculations, the most demanding tasks in entertainment, workstation and server systems. The PowerPC core is projected to have 32KB L1 cache and 512KB L2 cache, while each of the SPEs will have 256KB of cache.
Die size of the current chip is relatively large ?221 square millimeters, so is the number of transistors ?234 million. The size of the die is approximately the same as that of Intel's dual-core Smithfield processor for the desktop. But Sony and IBM claim their Cell processor will be able to run at speeds exceeding 4.0GHz, even at 90nm process technology, while Intel Corp. is expected to push its dual-core central processing units to 3.20GHz this year.
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, providing virtualization capabilities.
Cell will not only boost the performance of applications and board-level products aimed at digital media areas such as movies and other home entertainment development, but potentially in government laboratories, digital security, higher education and deep computing, as well, IBM said.