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PS3's Cell processor turned into multimedia chip

Toshiba's SpursEngine to be used in laptop

Toshiba has revealed a new high-performance chip that is aimed at multimedia applications such as video processing in consumer devices.

The new chip, called SpursEngine, uses cores derived from the Cell microprocessor which was developed with Sony and IBM and is used in the PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Toshiba plans to show off the capabilities of the new chip in laptop PCs to be unveiled at the CEATEC Japan 2007 technology trade show at Makuhari Messe, which starts on 2 October. The company will demonstrate the stream processor's capabilities in 3D image processing and manipulation. In rendering changes to an image of a face, the chip can immediately transform hair styles, make-up, and change facial expressions, position and angle in video, and render the changes as computer graphics, Toshiba said.

The SpursEngine works alongside a microprocessor to process video streams, recognise and process images, and tackle other multimedia chores. The multicore chip uses Toshiba's own image processing technology.

The prototype of the SpursEngine operates at 1.5GHz and consumes 10-to-20W of power. It uses Rambus' XDR DRAM memory due to high data transfer rates required by multimedia applications.

The company plans to market SpursEngine after the CEATEC trade show finishes. Toshiba has already started developing products using the processors, and will sell the chips to other companies for use in their products as well.

Development of the Cell microprocessor architecture started early this decade to create a new processor with expanded multimedia processing capabilities. Its first major commercial success was in Sony's PS3 game console.


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