If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

IBM licenses Cell for use in medical, military systems

The Cell microprocessor has been licensed for its first use outside of consumer electronics, with the chip being picked up by US firm Mercury Computer Systems, which specialises in embedded computers for medical and military use.

The Cell microprocessor has been licensed for its first use outside of consumer electronics, with the chip being picked up by US firm Mercury Computer Systems, which specialises in embedded computers for medical and military use.

Mercury, which intends to use the Cell as the core processor for its systems ranging from medical MRI scanners to radar and sonar processing systems for military applications, becomes the first company outside of those who developed Cell to buy into the technology.

Co-designed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the high performance chip - which features a PowerPC core and seven parallel processing units on one piece of silicon - is being used by Sony to power the PlayStation 3, and will appear in a range of television sets from Toshiba next year.

IBM, meanwhile, has been hard at work seeking commercial applications for the chip outside of the three partners, and while Mercury is its first major success, market watchers suggest that a number of other deals may be on the table - including a potentially lucrative alliance with speaker manufacturer Bose, who would use Cell's power to create a new intelligent vehicle suspension system.

Some analysts predict that the volume of Cell microprocessors which will be sold to third parties will eventually outstrip even the huge numbers that will be required for PlayStation 3 manufacturing.

However, the drive to see Cell accepted by the computing industry has had setbacks as well - most notably when Apple, which currently uses PowerPC chips in its desktop and laptop systems, rejected an approach by Sony and IBM who wanted the company to use Cell in its next generation of computers.

Reportedly describing the Cell as "disappointing", Apple CEO Steve Jobs has instead moved the company over to using chips from one-time arch rival Intel.

Author
Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.