IBM to continue developing cell processor technologies

IBM has responded to reports that it is planning to end development of its cell processor, which is used in several supercomputers and powers devices such as Sony’s PS3 gaming console.

The company has suspended development of the next generation of the Cell chip, but a spokesperson has told E&T that it will still ply a role in future processor platforms – such as IBM’s forthcoming Power7 chips.

“Based on our experience gained from Cell, we now believe that the next generation of computing will rely heavily on the integration of multicore and hybrid technologies.  IBM continues to invest in Cell technologies as part of this hybrid and multicore strategy, including in new Power7 based systems expected next year,” said the spokesperson.

Additionally, the spokesperson said that the company plans to continue manufacturing the cell processor for Sony and hinted that it still hopes the technology will be the core of any future gaming platform.

“IBM continues to manufacture the Cell processor for use by Sony in its PlayStation3 and we look forward to continue developing next generation processors for the gaming market,” he added.

Rumours about the demise of the cell chip have been circulating since the German Website Heise Online quoted an IBM senior executive saying that the company was halting development of the next-generation processor.

David Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM, was quoted as saying the next-generation PowerXCell 32i – designed for supercomputers and the high - performance computing space was being killed. The chip was to feature two PPEs (PowerPC Processor Elements) and 32 SPEs (Synergistic Processing Elements).

The original cell chip was developed by IBM in collaboration with Sony and Toshiba. Last year, Sony sold it’s the Cell manufacturing operation to Toshiba in a deal valued at almost US$ 900 million.

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