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Sony puts Cell processor in speedy computer

Chips like the Cell processor will inevitably power the high-demand devices of the near future.

There has been plenty of talk about the power of the Cell processor at the heart of Sony 's PlayStation 3 since the chip project began in 2000, but precious little in the way of end results until today, when Sony announced a prototype computer board using the powerhouse processor.

The Cell - developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM - sits at the heart of the server rack sized Cell Computing Board , which will be displayed next week at the SIGGRAPH graphics show in San Diego.

Sky the limit

Although Sony has yet to specify exactly what the new system is capable of, a single Cell can deliver over 200 Gigaflops of processing power, putting it well into the realm of supercomputers when several are harnessed together. It achieves this through the use of a main CPU and eight sub CPUs.

At this stage, Sony says the new board features the existing Cell Broadband Engine architecture together with an RSX graphics card. This and the nature of the show at which it will make its debut underline the likely future for Cell-powered hardware in high-definition TV appliances and gaming.