IBM/Sony/Toshiba Announce New Cell Processor
A single unit of computation in a Cell system has a theoretical computing capability of 250 GFLOPS. While not every system reaches its full theoretical potential, even a partial fulfillment will give this technology an increase in performance over other processors. The makers are promising 10x the performance over processors used today.
With memory and I/O optimized to reduce latency and make data transfer as efficient as possible, the Cell architecture is essentially a general purpose PowerPC CPU with a set of 8 very high performance vector processors. Each Cell contains 8 APUs. An APU (Attached Processor Unit) is a self contained vector processor which acts independently from the others. A more detailed description of the spec can be found here.
Applications in the world of Virtual Instrumentation for performance computing include signal processing such as FFTs, linear problem solvers, simulations, and partial differential equations. Real-time applications could also benefit from such performance. This architecture promises “hard” real-time data processing with “absolute timer” capability.
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Hall T. Martin