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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Software Will Determine The Success Of The Cell Processor

We recently covered the launch of the cell processor unveiled together by IBM, Sony and Toshiba We covered therein, the chip contains eight processing units that can work simultaneously on different tasks and will run at a speed of 4 gigahertz, at least ten times faster than the best chips available at the moment, according to IBM.Described as a "supercomputer on a chip", the features of the new device show that single microprocessors are giving way to a new, "multi-core" design. This allows chips to run more efficiently, using less power and generating less heat. IBM, Sun and Hewlett-Packard already produce high-end computers that use multi-core chips. The success of a chip depends on the software application that runs on it. Bob Cringley amplifies this perspective when he writes,On pure bandwidth alone the Cell appears to beat the heck out of just about every other processor - a true supercomputer on a chip. Cringley quotes his friend as saying,"No product has even been unsuccessful in the marketplace because the designer chose the wrong (or right) processor. In the times when processors were slow and memory precious, you could want something you couldn't make, but I doubt seriously that anyone suffers from such a problem today. You might not be able to battery power the portable critter, but at least you can design it." "The X86 architecture didn't succeed because it was good (or bad) but because the Microsoft OS worked. If DOS/Windows had been written for the Motorola 68000, the world might be a very different place. The X86 architecture has survived several challenges from Apple/Moto/IBM, primarily. The key is, where the Microsoft OS is required, the X86 owns. Where the Microsoft OS is not required, and Real-Time applications are high on that list (can you imagine Windows controlling your car's power brakes as an example?!) the X86 slugs it out, often unsuccessfully.""Since processors do not drive applications, one does not find the announcement of a new processor all that simulating."

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