The Cell processor was unveiled today at an industry conference in California. This new microprocessor architecture will be featured in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 console, which is slated for 2006.
Developed jointly by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the microprocessor is fundamentally different from the chips that power most computers today. It incorporates eight separate processing cores, or "synergistic processing elements", which are capable of communicating with one another at high-speed. A standard chip has single, larger processor.
The eight cores give the chip the ability to run different software programs simultaneously and to divide up processing tasks more efficiently. It will also be able to run several operating systems, such as Linux or Windows, in tandem.
The Cell chip was able to reach clockspeeds of 4GHz in laboratory tests. An analyst said that it will be 10 to 20 times faster than current graphics cards and processors.