Toshiba Launches IBM Cell-based Video Processor For The Blu-ray World

Tokyo (Japan) - There has been been a lot of speculation in regards to what Toshiba will change with its high definition strategy now that HD DVD is officially gone. The Toshiba adventure may have cost the company an estimated $1-billion, but the company is definitely showing signs of the willingness to embrace Blu-ray. Firstly, Toshiba has a joint venture with Samsung which gives Toshiba access to Blu-ray intellectual property. Secondly, there's the Cell processor which has been designed, developed and manufactured in collaboration with Sony. Having been a partners with Sony for years, it wouldn't be difficult for Toshiba to sign on with Blu-ray.

In fact, the Cell processor could play an important role in the HD transition for Toshiba. We were reminded of this fact when Toshiba announced that it completed development of a video processor based on Cell architecture.

Toshiba said it took four SPE units to create the SpursEngine, a co-processor used for the acceleration of video streams and 3D effects in upcoming consumer electronics devices. The chip features full HD encoding and decoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 streams. Toshiba mentioned that it has started shipping the reference kit, consisting of a PCI Express board and middleware APIs, to customers. The reference card utilizes PCIe x1 slots.

Toshiba is banging heavily on the drum of power consumption, since full-HD encode and decode capabilities are done in a sub-20 watt range. According to Toshiba, the Cell-based SpursEngine is clocked at 1.5 GHz (the PS3 Cell is clocked at 3.2 GHz) to hit the 10-20 watt target.

Company officials declined to comment on when devices utilizing the lower power Cell processor will arrive on the market, but it's clear that next-years' CES in Las Vegas will see a different Toshiba - possibly one that will be introducing Blu-ray enhancing video processors and set-top boxes.