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IBM plans to talk Cell, Power5 at upcoming conferences

Computing giant IBM seems set to begin a promotional drive for its forthcoming processors, including the Cell chip which is to appear in the PlayStation 3 and the Power5 chips being used for Microsoft's Xbox 2 and Nintendo's N5.

Computing giant IBM seems set to begin a promotional drive for its forthcoming processors, including the Cell chip which is to appear in the PlayStation 3 and the Power5 chips being used for Microsoft's Xbox 2 and Nintendo's N5.

This marketing effort from the company will focus on a number of conferences discussing the capabilities of the new chips (which will be sold for a wide range of applications outside of the videogames market) and outlining the future roadmap for IBM's microprocessor products.

The first event on the schedule is a special conference organised by the company's chip group in Manhattan at the end of this month, where it will talk about its current and future processor products, with the Power5 and Cell processors likely to be hot topics at the event.

A few months later, IBM and Sony will deliver a presentation about the Cell microprocessor at the 2004 Vail Computer Elements workshop, a conference being organised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Although neither the Power5 nor the Cell have exactly been top secret projects at any point, these conferences do suggest that the companies involved in both projects are now prepared to talk more openly about the technology involved.

Power5, which will be used in both Microsoft and Nintendo's next generation consoles, is largely a known quantity, being an advancement on the existing PowerPC family of chips. Cell, however, is more revolutionary - although it borrows some architecture from the PowerPC line, the chip has been designed to operate in massively parallel arrays of up to hundreds of individual processors, and is quite different to any mainstream chip currently on the market.

Cell is a co-development project between IBM, Sony and Toshiba, and while the PlayStation 3 is likely to be the most important use of the new chip at first, both Sony and Toshiba plan to use it in a variety of other consumer products, while IBM is expected to license the chip to other consumer device manufacturers.

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: 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.