It has been confirmed that IBM will be pulling out of Cell development, with their current PowerXCell 8i to be the company’s last entrance in the technology.
The Cell Processor was originally the brain child of ‘The Father of PlayStation’ Ken Kutaragi. It was later co-developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba; making its way into the PlayStation 3, TV’s and super computers.
Featuring a central general-purpose processor, the Cell includes a number of co-processing units with internal memory, known as SPUs. Greatly increasing performance, the Cell’s SPUs have been notoriously difficult to develop for, with a number of developers, such as Naughty Dog, making significant breakthroughs of late.
IBM’s most recent development in the Cell Processor’s design is the PoweXCell 8i, which is featured in the second most powerful supercomputer in the world; Roadrunner.
However, this is where Cell will end for IBM. The company’s Vice President David Turek, told German website Heise Online that the planned 32 SPE Cell processor will not be made.
However, Turek did explain that features of the Cell would continue to be moulded into other processor designs. With the future looking like it’s taking a GPU route, a hybrid technology is the direction IBM will developing.
So what does this mean for Sony and the PlayStation 4? It has long been understood that the platform holder wants to use the Cell processor once again, allowing them to take advantage of this generation’s research and to make the transition into the next much smoother.
Will this change with IBM pulling out of their own development? Not necessarily. Sony can still hire IBM to create a Cell Processor for their next console, without IBM being involved in their own internal development outside of the PS4. So don’t start counting Sony’s chickens just yet.