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IBM boosts PS3's Cell chip

New Cell is smaller and more efficient

IBM has started production of a more advanced version of the Cell microprocessor, the chip it developed with Sony and Toshiba.

The new Cell Broadband Engine is being manufactured at IBM's factory in New York, using a 65-nanometre manufacturing process, which is an improvement on the current 90-nanometre process. Typically such a step in process technology results in a chip that’s physically smaller and uses less power.

The Cell chip is perhaps best known for its place at the heart of Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console but it's also used in computers produced by IBM.

The first Cell-based computer was launched by IBM in September last year. The BladeCenter QS20 is being promoted to industrial users in the medical imaging, aerospace, defence, digital animation, communications and energy sectors. Early users include the University of Manchester and Fraunhofer Institute.

IBM has also won a contract from the US Department of Energy to supply a supercomputer based on the Cell processor. Codenamed ‘Roadrunner’, the computer will be capable of up to 1,000 trillion calculations per second (one petaflop).

Sony is planning to use a 65-nanometer version of the Cell in future versions of the PS3 to help cut manufacturing costs.

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