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Toshiba launches IBM Cell-based video processor for the Blu-ray world

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Toshiba launches IBM Cell-based video processor for the Blu-ray world

Tokyo (Japan) – There has been been a lot of speculation how Toshiba will change its high definition strategy now that HD DVD is officially gone. The Blu-ray adventure may have cost Toshiba about $1 billion, but the company does not hesitate to switch over to Blu-ray quickly. First, there is the fact Toshiba has a joint venture with Samsung that gives the company access to Blu-ray technology and then, of course, there is the Cell processor, which has been designed, developed and manufactured in collaboration with Sony.

In fact, it appears that most of us completely forgot to see that the Cell processor could play an important role in the HD transition for Toshiba. We were reminded of this fact when Toshiba announced that it has completed the development of a video processor based on Cell architecture.

Toshiba said it took four SPE units to create the SpursEngine, a co-processor used for the acceleration of video streams and 3D effects in upcoming Consumer Electronics devices. The chip features full HD encoding and decoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 streams. Toshiba mentioned that it has started shipping the reference kit, consisting of a reference PCI Express board and middleware APIs, to customers. The reference card utilizes PCIe x1 slots.

Toshiba is banging heavily on the drum of power consumption, since the full-HD encode and decode capability is done in a sub-20 watt range. According to Toshiba, the Cell-based SpursEngine is clocked at 1.5 GHz (the PS3 Cell is clocked at 3.2 GHz) to hit the 10-20 watt target.

The manufacturer did not announce when first devices with this chip will arrive on the market, but it is obvious that next-years’ CES in Las Vegas will see a different Toshiba. Then, we will see a maker of Blu-ray enhancing video processors and players/recorders.

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