The Cell microprocessor, which is being co-developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba and will power the next-generation PlayStation console, is set to roll out in a wider range of consumer devices in 2007, according to Sony VP Fujio Nishida.
Speaking at a media event this week, Nishida gave the first firm impression of when consumers can expect to see Cell microprocessors in products other than the PlayStation 3, which is expected to roll out in 2006.
The powerful microprocessor, which has been designed specifically to handle media processing, will come into its own in next-generation home media products which need to process multiple streams of HD video at once, he explained, according to an EE Times report on the event.
"Right now, using the Cell processor in our HDTV products would be overkill," according to Nishida, who pegged 2007 as the year when Cell will start to power Sony's consumer electronics business.
Nishida also confirmed that Sony is not currently seeking new partners for Cell, but that Toshiba has the right to sell the processor on to third parties if it wishes. However, even without third-party adoption of Cell, Sony believes that the volume of processors used in the PlayStation 3 will give the chip significant economies of scale.
As to the future, Ken Kutaragi's vision of a futuristic home filled with Cell powered devices all communicating with each other may still be on the cards. "We are still looking for applications that will make sense for the Cell processor to reside in a variety of new consumer products," Nishida said.