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Article: Introduction to Cell Architecture.
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 1/22/2005 09:11:00 PM.

Designed for the PlayStation 3, Sony, Toshiba and IBM's new "Cell processor" promises seemingly obscene computing capabilities for what will rapidly become a very low price.

In the following articles look at what the Cell architecture is, then go on to look at the profound implications this new chip has, not for the games market, but for the entire computer industry.

Article By: Nicholas Blachford.

Also Posted at G3Technews Forum: Here

Cell Architecture

Designed for the PlayStation 3, Sony, Toshiba and IBM's new "Cell processor" promises seemingly obscene computing capabilities for what will rapidly become a very low price. In these articles I look at what the Cell architecture is, then I go on to look at the profound implications this new chip has, not for the games market, but for the entire computer industry. Has the PC finally met it's match?

To date the details disclosed by the STI group (Sony, Toshiba, IBM) have been very vague to say the least. Except that is for the patent application which describes the system in minute detail. Unfortunately this is very difficult to read so the details haven't made it out into general circulation even in the technical community.

I have managed to decipher the patent and in parts 1 and 2 I describe the details of the Cell architecture, from the cell processor to the "software cells" it operates on.

Cell is a vector processing architecture and this in some way limits it's uses, that said there are a huge number of tasks which can benefit from vector processing and in part 3 I look at them.

The first machine on the market with a Cell processor will steal the performance crown from the PC, probably permanently, but PCs have seen much bigger and better competition in the past and have pushed it aside every time. In part 4 I explain why the PC has always won and why the Cell may have the capacity to finally defeat it.

In part 5 I wrap it up with a conclusion and list of references. If you don't want to read all the details in parts 1 and 2 I give a short overview of the Cell architecture.

Part 1: Inside The Cell

In Parts 1 and 2 I look at what the Cell Architecture is. Part 1 covers the computing hardware in the Cell processor.

* Background
* So what is Cell Architecture?
* The Processor Unit (PU)
* Attached Processor Units (APUs)
* APU Local Memory

Part 2: Again Inside The Cell

Part 2 continues the look at the insides of the Cell, I look at the setup for stream processing then move on to the other parts of the Cell hardware and software architecture.

* Stream Processing
* Hard Real Time Processing
* The DMAC
* Memory
* Software Cells
* Multi-Cell'd Animals
* DRM In The Hardware
* Other Options And The Future

Part 3: Cellular Computing

Cells are not like normal CPUs and their main performance gains will come from the vector processing APUs, in this section I look at the type of applications which will benefit from the Cells power.

* Cell Applications
* Games
* 3D Graphics
* Video
* Audio
* DSP (Digital Signal Processing)
* SETI
* Scientific
* Super Computing
* Servers
* Stream Processing Applications
* Non Accelerated Applications

Part 4: Cell Vs the PC

x86 PCs own almost the entire computer market despite the fact there have been many other platforms which were superior in many ways. In this section I look at how the PC has come to dominate and why the Cell may be able to knock the king from his throne.

* The Sincerest Form of Flattery is Theft
* Cell V's x86
* Cell V's Software
* Attack
* Cell V's Apple
* Cell V's GPU
* The Cray Factor
* The Result

Part 5: Conclusion and References

* Short Overview
* Conclusion
* References And Further Reading



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