Sony gives glimpse of PS3 processor at E3

Sony's CTO outlines the functionality of the Cell processor, which will be at the heart of Sony's next-gen console.

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At the end of its E3 conference today, Sony gave viewers an oblique glimpse into its next-generation console plans. Toward the end of the press conference, Sony Chief Technical Officer Masa Chinati took to the stage to talk about the Cell processor, the next-generation CPU Sony is developing in conjuction with Toshiba and IBM. The Cell processor is expected to be at the heart of Sony's next-generation console, the PlayStation 3.

Thought it seemed like a footnote coming after the raptly received PSP demonstration, Chinati's brief presentation did offer some insight into Sony's next-gen master plan.

First, the company will manufacture a high-end workstation using the Cell CPU. Planned for release at the end of 2004, the workstation will use the CPU's capabilities to provide users with the tools for complex rendering, physics, modeling, behavior, and analysis.

In outlining how the Cell works, Chinati provided a glimpse of the PS3's CPU. He mentioned the Cell's parallel processing and floating point capabilities, which will allow for "massive data bandwidth."

Second, the Cell workstations will be marketed directly to the game and special-effects industries. The labor in their creation will be divided between Sony and IBM. SCE will develop middleware and other tools for game development and film effects. The Cell chips themselves will be manufactured by IBM, who will also work on the OS.

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