Cell For Sale, At Last.

It’s been a long time getting out on the market, but at last it’s here. Toshiba announced it’s putting a version of the Cell microprocessor on the market.

Developed at a cost of $400 million by IBM, Toshiba and Sony between 2001 and 2005, it’s always been a mystery what the partner trio were going to do with Cell. Blisteringly fast, the 90nm version delivers one awesome teraflops, making it a massive graphics engine. Toshiba calls its new commercialised version ‘SpursEngine’. I suspect, though I have no way of nothing, that the three partners couldn’t agree among themselves what to do with it. Of course Sony wanted Cell for PlayStation 3, but what did Toshiba and IBM want it for? IBM said they’d put it in a blade module, and IBM’s customer, Mercury Computer, put it in a computer. Apart from that, nothing. If you asked the Toshiba and Sony people in Europe if Cell would become available either as a chip or an IP the answer, invariably, was: “We’re waiting to hear from Tokyo.” If you asked the people in Tokyo, all you got was inscrutability. Now that Toshiba has taken over Sony’s Cell-making facilities, maybe the logjam of getting three parties to agree have been removed. Whatever the reason, Cell is now going out into the world. What the world make of Cell, or do with it, no one knows, but Toshiba says it expects to sell six million of them in the next three years. But graphics could be about to get better.

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