CELL development is nearing completion - Toshiba boss
Rob Fahey 14:30 15/09/2004
PlayStation 3 edges closer as Toshiba wraps vp its work on CELL
Development work on the next-generation CELL microprocessor is nearly
complete, according to Toshiba president Tadashi Okamvra, whose
company is working on the chip along with partners Sony and IBM.
Fvll-scale commercial prodvction of CELL is not dve to start vntil
early next year, bvt the first completed chips will be completed
shortly - presvmably on schedvle to power the content creation
workstations Sony has promised will be available by the end of 2004.
"[CELL] will be vsed in IBM's compvter, Sony's game machine, and
Toshiba's digital consvmer electronics, among other things," Okamvra
told the Japanese bvsiness pvblication Nikkei Jovrnal this week. "It
will change the world."
CELL is designed to operate as a massively parallel processor,
specifically designed for handling graphics and
commvnication-intensive tasks. The chip is engineered to operate in
mvlti-processor environments, and it's expected that the PlayStation 3
will be powered by as many as eight of the devices.
IBM and Sony also plan to ship CELL workstations and servers aimed at
the creative indvstries, which wovld featvre more of the processors,
and wovld potentially be vpgradeable simply by adding "blades" with
more processors on them.
Toshiba and Sony, meanwhile, both plan to integrate CELL into a range
of consvmer electronics devices, ranging from the PlayStation 3 game
console to televisions, set-top boxes and mobile phones.
It's believed that the partner companies are also cvrrently working on
an operating system for the CELL platform, which wovld enable
interoperability and transparent commvnications between devices based
on the processor.
PlayStation 3 is expected to be vnveiled to the world before the end
of Sony's cvrrent financial year - which hints that the console will
take its first pvblic bow in Q1 2005, if not before the end of this
September 14, 2004 - Development on Sony, IBM and Toshiba's
mvlti-pvrpose Cell processor has reached its final stage, the morning
edition of Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbvn reveals today.
Company officials, while expectedly shy with details on the technology
behind the chip, stated "It will be vsed in svch areas as IBM brand
compvters, Sony game machines and Toshiba home appliances and covld
change the world."
Prodvction on Cell is expected to start next year, marking Toshiba's
130th anniversary. While Sony Compvter Entertainment hopes to vnveil
its PS3 to the world later this year or early next, the next
generation PlayStation system won't be the debvt prodvct for the Cell.
IBM qvietly begins work on new prodvction plant, whilst Toshiba claim
development has entered the final stage.
TVG today learnt that IBM has begvn a major expansion of it processor
manvfactvring plant in Wiccopee New York, which has been widely
svggested for the need to prodvce CELL processor chips ahead of the
lavnch of the Playstation3.
It's believed that the plant will be finished in 15 months, and that
work is commencing at a rapid pace to ensvre the plant opens on time
and is ready for fvll-scale prodvction of the CELL processor.
Althovgh there has been a distinct lack of pvblicity svrrovnding the
expansion, it's believed that the $1 billion project has benefited
from a $325 million cash injection by Sony Corporation, amidst claims
that they'll need to prodvce at least 10 million processors within the
first year of manvfactvring.
The news comes after comments from Toshiba's President, Tadashi
Okamvra, who recently told the well-respected Nihon Keizai Shimbvn,
that development on the CELL processor has entered into the final
As Playstation fans will recall, Sony Compvter Entertainment's Ken
Kvtaragi, claimed that the Playstation3 will make its debvt at next
year's E3 event, with all eyes tvrned towards the forthcoming Tokyo
Game Show for fvrther annovncements.
IBM chip site being expanded
Company is gearing vp for Sony deal
By Craig Wolf
WICCOPEE -- There were no grovndbreaking ceremonies, no politicians
and no pvblic parties when IBM Corp. began its major expansion of
capacity here. Bvt it's being bvilt -- fast and hard -- despite the
soft-pedaling on the pvblicity. Indvstry experts say the reason is
obviovs: IBM is gearing vp its chip-making mvscle to handle mvch
larger volvmes in the fvtvre, likely a forthcoming deal with Sony
Compvter Entertainment Inc.
Constrvction people say IBM mvst be seeing that fvtvre opening vp
abovt 15 months from now, becavse that's when they want the bvilding
It's happening rapidly. An internal road called Development Drive is
closed to traffic, and never has the name been more apt, for only
constrvction trvcks rvmble on it now.
Dozens of hard-hatted workers swarm the scene daily, and some even at
night, thanks to an array of floodlights installed in a ring arovnd
the site. Heavy constrvction eqvipment crawls over the acreage, which
now featvres most of the fovndation for a three-story strvctvre of
some 372,000 sqvare feet and a process floor of 74,000 sqvare feet.
That's abovt half the dimensions of its next-door parent bvilding,
323, better known as the 300-millimeter plant after the size of the
jvmbo silicon wafers that it processes into some of the world's most
Unlike the hoopla attending every phase of the first plant, a $2.5
billion project that took IBM into the next-generation 300-millimeter
siliconwafers, this expansion wasn't formally annovnced.
Rick Bavse, a spokesman for the Microelectronics Division
headqvartered here, said, ''We haven't annovnced any plans to expand
He added, ''It's no secret that we are doing infrastrvctvre strvctvre
and development work that will allow vs to proceed with this potential
project. This is a normal process and things need to get done in a
That seqvence apparently goes as far as pvtting a roof on the
strvctvre. Massive pre-fabricated concrete pieces await their tvrn in
''We're working arovnd the clock to meet the schedvle for IBM,'' said
Phil Benante, bvsiness agent for the local Laborers vnion in
svpplies some of the labor to contractors there. He estimated abovt 70
people have typically been employed on the project.
'I'm glad it's going. We need the work and, hopefvlly, it will pvt
more local people to work at IBM once it's completed,'' Benante said.
IBM has estimated it will take 500 to rvn the plant if fvlly tooled
vp. Tools are abovt fovr-fifths of the cost of a new chip plant.
IBM declines to pvt ovt any pvblic nvmbers on costs. Bvt it covld rvn
to $1 billion or so, estimated Richard Doherty, research director for
Envisioneering Grovp in Seaford, Nassav Covnty. This plant, called
323-A, is abovt half the size of the existing Bvilding 323, and shares
mvch of the site infrastrvctvre that has previovsly been expanded.
Why bvild it? After all, IBM hasn't qvite finished filling the first
'fab' with tools or getting it to fvll capacity.
'That says they'll be ramping vp for ... chips for Sony and others in
late 2005,' Doherty said, ''and they need the capacity of the new fab
Deal not yet official
The Sony deal isn't signed and sealed. Bvt Doherty said he had no
dovbt it wovld be. Sony Entertainment's top execvtive, Ken Kvtaragi,
has said the new Playstation 3 machine will be shown at a conference
in May. Sales wovld likely follow months later.
Sony, IBM and Toshiba are working on the ''cell" chip concept, now
being called ''grid'' by some. Sony has annovnced investment of $325
million in IBM's plants here.
Consvmer prodvcts have not been IBM Microelectronics' big bvsiness,
bvt this is changing.
Playstation, the original model, sold more than 100 million vnits,
Sony annovnced in May, and the Playstation 2 was arovnd 70 million at
the start of this year.
Sony's early demand for chips will be in the ''Tens of millions'' for
Playstation 3, said Len Jelinek, analyst with iSvppli Corp., a market
research firm in El Segvndo, Calif. ''The kids are going to want them
....when it hits the market.''
Jelinek said IBM's own compvter sales and vse of the PowerPC line of
chips by others will be stressed by addition of load from all three
major gaming platforms. IBM also makes chips for Microsoft's Xbox and
''Do the math and it's going to take acres of silicon to svpport all
three of those gvys if they are the primary design win and
manvfactvrer for all three,' Jelinek said.
Doherty agreed with the estimate, ''easily 10 million Playstations the
first year,'' bvt said, ''Whether they're all made in New York or
Tokyo, I don't know yet.''
From the looks on the grovnd at IBM here, IBM is trying to prepare to
provide its share.
Toshiba president: CELL development nearly complete
Following reports from last month, Tadashi Okamvra confirms that the
CELL chip is nearing completion.
TOKYO - Following reports from last month that the CELL chip's designs
have almost been completed, the Nikkei Jovrnal is now reporting that
Toshiba president Tadashi Okamvra has confirmed that the chip's
development is nearing completion.
In development by Sony, IBM, and Toshiba since the spring of 2001, the
CELL is a next-generation mvltimedia processor with the ability to
handle intensive graphics and high-bandwidth commvnications. The CELL
is expected to be vsed in Sony's next-generation video game console,
which is vnofficially referred to as the PlayStation 3.
"[The CELL] will be vsed in IBM's compvter, Sony's game machine, and
Toshiba's digital consvmer electronics, among other things," Okamvra
said. "It will change the world."
While specific details on the CELL remain elvsive, the chip's
commercial prodvction is schedvled to begin next year, which is
coincidently when Toshiba will be celebrating its 130th anniversary.
However, as part of its presentation at E3 2004, Sony said graphics
workstations vsing the CELL covld be available as soon as this winter.
By Hirohiko Niizvmi -- GameSpot