IBM has revealed the Cell Broadband Engine, or Cell BE, the first of the tech giant's own hardware to use the newly developed Cell chip, which was co-created by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM, and will first debut in Sony's PlayStation 3 console, due out later this year.
The announcement by IBM of the processor, which is "optimized for compute-intensive workloads and broadband media applications targeted for computer entertainment, movies and other forms of digital content", has made it the last of the three partners in the chip's development to incorporate the chip into its product line. The chip was previously announced as seeing inclusion in Sony's previously mentioned PlayStation 3 console and select Toshiba HDTVs, both of which are due in 2006.
The Cell Broadband Engine is a "blade" computing system made up of different thin processors used to do different tasks. The inclusion of the Cell will allow for the system to handle extremely processor-intensive graphics applications, the architecture's specialty. The Cell BE was one of several BladeCenter products unveiled at a New York press conference, and is designed to "accelerate key algorithms like 3D rendering, compression, and encryption, to help companies create and run highly visual, immersive, real-time applications."
"It's not going to be a general purpose computer," said IBM director of blade center strategy Tim Dougherty to Yahoo! News. "But for certain things, it is incredible, and it will make orders of magnitude difference." The Cell BE-based servers will first be available for purchase in the third quarter of 2006. No pricing structure was announced.