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Friday, May 27, 2005

Sony / IBM / Toshiba Open PS3's Cell Processor

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"Next-gen battle moves front as Cell specs go open source to counter MS's XNA effort

Sony, IBM and Toshiba - joint developers of the Cell chip which will power both the PS3 and the next generation of consumer electronics - have decided to open up and make the Cell processor's specs freely available in a bid to encourage open source development for the chip.

While that might sound decidedly dull technology-led news even for a slow post-E3 Friday morning, it actually is rather exciting. No really, stay with us, because it means everyone will be able to develop for and take advantage of the trio's next-gen chip. If you need an example of how this works, look to Linux where a vast development community has sprung up around the alternative-to-Windows PC operating system.

Speaking to the EE Times IBM's Cell team leader Jim Kahle said: "Our intention is to open up the Cell software architecture. The idea is to get the industry to help us evolve the basic software layers."

IBM, Toshiba and Sony are expected to unleash the software libraries and specs sometime this summer, providing full details on hardware reference designs and the software development platform for Cell. If the development community bites big on Cell Open Source, the trio will be able to count on thousands of additional developers to exploit the architecture and ultimately produce more software for its various consumer platforms.

When we mentioned this to our resident techy experts they got very excited, pointing to the success of the Linux development kits for PS2 and called this Open Source development "a big win for Sony", saying simply, "more developers equals better software".

A bold attempt to open up the Cell platform then and quite an intriguing counter to Microsoft's XNA development plans. We have to say the battle of the next-gen grows more fascinating by the day."

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