IBM, Sony, and Toshiba for the first time disclosed in detail the breakthrough multi-core architectural design – featuring supercomputer-like floating point performance with observed clock speeds greater than 4 GHz – of their jointly developed microprocessor code-named Cell. A team of IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba engineers has collaborated on development of the Cell microprocessor at a joint design center established in Austin, Texas, since March 2001. The prototype chip is 221 mm(2), integrates 234 million transistors, and is fabricated with 90 nanometer SOI technology. Cell is a multicore chip capable of massive floating point processing and is OS neutral and supports multiple operating systems simultaneously.

IBM, Sony, and Toshiba for the first time disclosed in detail the
breakthrough multi-core architectural design – featuring supercomputer-like
floating point performance with observed clock speeds greater than 4 GHz – of
their jointly developed microprocessor code-named Cell. A team of IBM, Sony
Group and Toshiba engineers has collaborated on development of the Cell
microprocessor at a joint design center established in Austin, Texas, since
March 2001. The prototype chip is 221 mm(2), integrates 234 million transistors,
and is fabricated with 90 nanometer SOI technology. Cell’s breakthrough
multi-core architecture and ultra high-speed communications capabilities deliver
vastly improved, real-time response for entertainment and rich media
applications, in many cases 10 times the performance of the latest PC
processors.

Effectively a "supercomputer on a chip" incorporating advanced multi-processing
technologies used in IBM’s sophisticated servers, Sony Group’s computer
entertainment systems and Toshiba’s advanced semiconductor technology, Cell will
become the broadband processor used for industrial applications to the new
digital home. 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.

Initial production of Cell microprocessors is expected to begin at IBM’s 300mm
wafer fabrication facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., followed by Sony Group’s
Nagasaki Fab, this year. IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba expect to promote
Cell-based products including a broad range of industry-wide applications, from
digital televisions to home servers to supercomputers.

Among the highlights of Cell released today:

  • Cell is a breakthrough architectural design — featuring eight synergistic
    processors and top clock speeds of greater than 4 GHz (as measured during
    initial hardware testing)
  • Cell is a multicore chip capable of massive floating point processing
  • Cell is OS neutral and supports multiple operating systems simultaneously

"Today’s disclosure of the Cell chip’s breakthrough architectural design is a
significant milestone in an ambitious project that began four years ago with the
creation of the IBM, Sony and Toshiba design lab in Austin, Texas," said William
Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Systems and Technology
Group. "Today we see the tangible results of our collaboration: an open,
multi-core, microprocessor that portends a new era in graphics and multi-media
performance."

"Today, we are very proud to share with you the first development of the Cell
project, initiated with aspirations by the joint team of IBM, Sony Group and
Toshiba in March 2001," said Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president and COO,
Sony Corporation, and president and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
"With Cell opening a doorway, a new chapter in computer science is about to
begin."

"We are proud that Cell, a revolutionary microprocessor with a brand new
architecture that leapfrogs the performance of existing processors, has been
created through a perfect synergy of IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba’s capabilities
and talented resources, "said Masashi Muromachi, corporate vice president of
Toshiba Corporation and president & CEO of Toshiba’s Semiconductor Company. "We
are confident that Cell will provide major momentum for the progress of digital
convergence, as a core device sustaining a whole spectrum of advanced
information-rich broadband applications, from consumer electronics, home
entertainment through various industrial systems."