For its new gaming console due in two years, Sony is designing a chip based on “cell microprocessor” technology which could, according to Dean Takahashi, “allow it to pack the processing power of a hundred of today’s personal computers on a single chip and tap the resources of additional computers using high-speed network connections” and help it “achieve the industry’s holy grail: a cheap, all-in-one box for the home that can record television shows, surf the Net in 3-D, play music and run movie-like video games.” More:
Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony’s game division and mastermind of the company’s last two game boxes, is betting that in an era of networked devices, many distributed processors working together will be able to outperform a single processor, such as the Pentium chip at the heart of most PCs.
With the PS 3, Sony will apparently put 72 processors on a single chip: eight PowerPC microprocessors, each of which controls eight auxiliary processors.
Using sophisticated software to manage the workload, the PowerPC processors will divide complicated problems into smaller tasks and tap as many of the auxiliary processors as necessary to tackle them.
“The cell processors won’t work alone,” Doherty said. “They will work in teams to handle the tasks at hand, no matter whether it is processing a video game or communications.”
As soon as each processor or team finishes its job, it will be immediately redeployed to do something else.
Programming these consoles would be a daunting exercise!
As one of the analysts quoted in the article says, “Games are the engine of the next big wave of computing.”