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PS3 Cell chip aiming high

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 04 Feb 2005 10:27 User comments (2)

PS3 Cell chip aiming high The Cell processor that will power Sony's upcoming Playstation 3 is set to be unveiled at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco on Monday, but Tom Halfhill of the Microprocessor Report has an idea of what to expect. He has studied patents and documents relating to Cell and sees a number of chip breakthroughs that dramatically boost computing power in everything from game consoles to mobile phones. Current multicore chips typically chop a single computing task into parts, which are distributed among processing units. Cell's processing units called software cells can handle completely separate jobs.
"The software cells are designed to be kind of self-contained, they can kind of roam around," Halfhill said. Cells are also capable of roaming over a network, allowing the processor to perform a type of distributed or grid computing. So technically a PS3 could borrow processing power from another PS3 console on a network. "The Cell architecture is designed to make grid computing almost universal," Halfhill said. "It makes distributed processing part of the design. If you have several of these machines on a network, the work can be spread across a network."

Cell also has some security features that will help to prevent unauthorised copying and distribution of copyrighted content. For example, it locks down memory regions so only authorised applications can access protected content. However, Halfhill expresses some concern over this security mechanism, hoping that it wont drastically undercut chip performance. "What they're doing to fence off this memory requires a lot of memory access," he said. "It looks to me like a pretty cumbersome system. There's got to be some performance hit, and they're going to have to optimize the final design to get around that."


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2 user comments

14.2.2005 16:37

This technology sounds pretty cool, The kid (and teenager) in me is excited over the awesome applications to gaming. But the adult in me wonders about the repricussions to network security. Imagine a denial of service attack that not only affected the servers of a particular web site, but also all of the processors running Cell Technology. Lets hope they are taking that into consideration.

212.2.2005 14:05

But surely if the chip has can do parallel processing, then there is space for bugs, and driver clashes?

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