Report claims Nintendo and Microsoft have signed up for the brains behind the PS3.
--- IBM's Power 6 RISC CPU will make its debut in mid-2007 with a clock speed of between four and five gigahertz - at a time when everyone else had thought the megahertz war was over.
The chip will also have hardware-based fault tolerance (as opposed to detection) and will be the first to implement a new draft IEEE standard for decimal floating point, which will help speed financial operations by between 7 to 15 times compared with current software-based solutions, according to IBM.
Speaking at IBM's third Knowledge is Power event in Phuket, and the first one held outside of Australia, IBM general manager for System p, Ross Mauri, and Karl Freund, vice president for product marketing for System p, explained that IBM was a technology company working towards innovation that matters.
"There's no innovation left in the PC business so it made sense to partner with Lenovo," Freund said about the decision to leave the PC business. "But if you look at home entertainment and gaming, innovation has a huge part to play at the technology level."
He said the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Ninetendo Wii all had tremendous innovation - and all three game console makers have signed up to use the new Power-based Cell CPU.
However, IBM sees no commercial benefit in re-entering the home with an IBM-branded box with its new Power 6 CPU, but stands ready to assist Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft if they so choose to create a new PC or home entertainment platform.
Freund explained how in the 90s, there were a lot of companies doing RISC microprocessors, which are no longer around today, from Silicon Graphics, HP's PA-RISC, Alpha, Intel's 80860, Sun's SPARC and IBM's own RISC System 6000, which later became Power.
However, virtually all exited the business as it soon became clear that you needed to sell tens of millions of CPUs in order to recoup the heavy R&D costs associated with processor design. Today HP has moved to Intel's Itanium and Sun has augmented its Sparc with AMD Opterons at the low end.
IBM, on the other hand, is today making tens of millions of Power chips a year in everything from cars, factories, digital cameras, web servers to network storage to cellphones. This is even before the huge numbers that the Playstation 3 will bring.
The original 1997 Mars Pathfinder Rover also was powered by an IBM Power chip.
Freund went on the offensive and called Intel's Itanium a "boutique architecture". "Anywhere you go in the world, people either laugh or cry when you mention Itanium," he said, adding the claim that the latest generation of Itanium (Montecito), was still 20 percent slower than the Power 5 was at its launch back in 2004 when configured in a similar multi-way system.
He confirmed rumours that IBM was looking at using the AMD Opteron Hypertransport Bus as one of the platform options for Power 7.
"We think it has a role to play, but not for the entire family and not in the [high-end] P595. It's designed for a three or four chip solution. But it's just too early to say anything now," he said.
Meanwhile, Mauri said that there were many exciting new applications being developed for Cell in the medical, entertainment, media, aerospace, defence and geological markets.
One German university was experimenting with using Cell to do virtual surgery with real-time imaging augmented with CAT scans.
The surgeon operates a console to conduct micro-survey in a non-invasive mode. Cell's graphics power is used for the imaging system. ----