The three companies behind the PowerPC CPU known as “Cell”, have released details about the CPU in order to try and shake the image that it’s only good for gaming.
IBM, Sony, Toshiba Push Cell Chip Beyond Games
2005-08-25 6:05 pmAndrew Youll
I’d say it’s related as it shows that the CPU will be used in hardware other than games consoles, I for one didn’t know that Yellow Dog’s new server hardware supplier was dealing with the STI Group concerning the Cell CPU, so maybe in the future YD-Linux will be on Cell.
2005-08-25 6:55 pmLuke McCarthy
‘Twas on Slashdot yesterday
Well I will be going to a conference on parallel computing in a few weeks (cpa2005). There has been some interest from that community to explore if the cell architecture might be useful as a Transputer replacement (I think not).
Anyway a couple of fellas from IBM will be right in front of me talking about the communications support for concurrency.
So I can ask any questions I want if I want!!
Maybe there will be YD-Linux desktop systems reaching the horizon as well.
From what i have read it has huge potential. Like any piece of hardware though potential limited only by the software available for it. Wasn’t MIPS doing something similiar 15 years ago? as far as splitting CPU’s functions?
I doubt the Cell will ever find its way to general purpose computers. Simply because programmers won’t write for the Cell.
It may be useful for a small class of problems, but forget about seeing the Cell in a normal end user computer.
Sounds like many devs don’t like it, saying that it’s too complex to code for and that they would rather just code for mult-CPU’s, rather than something with multiple cores and what not.
Don’t compilers take care of most of the complexity ?
There are too many years that general/serial processors have been used . The parallel vector stuff is still in development.
The more the processors are used then the better the tools I am guessing.
2005-08-25 10:15 pmre_re
compilers alone are not adequate for anything that has to do with multithreading applications, there are many compilers that support this (Intel I think) but to see real performance gains the application must be wrote to take advantage of therading.
2005-08-25 10:24 pmAnonymous
> Don’t compilers take care of most of the complexity ?
Newer compilers have autovectorization which allows the compiler to convert floating point code to sse/altivec code. The problem is that cell has 8 vector units. This pretty much makes it difficult to utilise without writing code especially for them.
As for the features that give cell a lot of power (ability to chain the SPUs), I don’t think compilers can generate code for this from your standard app.
Finally the main core is rumored to be cut down, thus less suitable for general purpose computations, then the 3.2ghz would appear. However even if this is just a rumor, it is a 3.2ghz PPC processor. Within 12 months I would expect AMD & Intel to have cpus which easily surpass this in power.
The big market for cell processors will be dedicated appliances, where the spus can replace existing DSPs, such as digital tvs, sound equipment and scientific equipment. Should there become a Military Spec version of the chip, then this could be possibly be used as a major chip in radar / sonar / ELINT / EWAR systems.
As a CEO of a high performance computing company involved in the oil and gas and other industries, I certainly welcome diversity. As is the case with a number of specific vertical industry, diversity *is* actually accepted (sometimes) at the expense of ‘common the shelf’. Mercury’s RACE architecture is a good (but expensive) example thereof. Why would you even bother including PowerPC controllers of stantard off the shelf PC’s? Defense knows why. Oil and gas, on the other hand, don’t want that.
Back to the point – the Cell:
Unfortunately, my sources at IBM Deep Computing claim that their tests of the Cell processors for typical HPC tasks proved the Cell processor an unlikely candidate. The Cell really didn’t perform.
I am sure we will see highly specialized use of the Cell, but I take it as a big ‘bump’ when IBM themselves aren’t very impressed.
Time will tell. Anyhow, good luck !
As the president of the United States of America, I’m calling you a liar.
“Damn, I knew I should have stayed with PowerPC processors ”
2005-08-30 10:59 pmAnonymous
Many sources have stated that Apple looked closely at – and rejected – Cell processors for future Macs.
> to try and shake the image that it’s only good for gaming.
IBM’s technical specialist also tried to emphasise this at a recent Amiga fair in Sweden:
IMO the kind of information spread around on the internet by some feels very similar to me as was the case with regard to classic Amigas during the 80s/90s. All kinds of people (including respected computer press) treated this innovative mulitmedia system as just a dedicated games machine..
The triumvirate signed its first outside customer only in June, when Mercury Computer Systems… said it would adopt the chip for some of its future computers
a.k.a. Yellow Dog’s new server hardware suppier. Probably not related but I though I’d point it out.