Sony, IBM, Toshiba to jointly develop ‘supercomputer-on-a-chip’

March 12, 2001–Tokyo, Japan–Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), IBM Corp., and Toshiba Corp. today announced plans to collectively invest more than $400 million over the next 5 years to research and develop an advanced chip architecture for a new wave of devices in the emerging broadband era.

The three companies will establish a joint development center within an IBM facility located in Austin, TX. At its peak, the center will be staffed with nearly 300 computer architects and chip designers dedicated to the development project.

Code-named “Cell,” the new microchips will employ the world’s most advanced research technologies and chip-making techniques, including copper wires, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) transistors, and low-k dielectric insulation, with features smaller than 0.10-micron. The expected result is consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer, able to operate at low power, and access the broadband Internet at ultra high speeds. Cell will be designed to deliver “teraflops” of processing power.

“The processor platform that people have only been able to imagine is now going to become a reality,” says Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO of SCEI. “The new broadband processor that we are going to create will raise the curtain on a new era in high-speed, network-based computing. With built-in broadband connectivity, microprocessors that currently exist as individual islands will be more closely linked, making a network of systems act more as a unified ‘supersystem’. Just as biological cells in the body unite to form complete physical systems, Cell-based electronic products of all types will form the building blocks of larger systems. SCEI, IBM, and Toshiba are mapping out the future of broadband computing.”

All three companies will manufacture the Cell microchips for a variety of consumer applications. IBM reports that it expects to dedicate a considerable portion of its new, state-of-the-art 300mm wafer manufacturing facility in Fishkill, NY, to producing Cell microchips.


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