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Cell Broadband Engine Architecture

CellSince when did the Cell become the Cell Broadband Engineâ„¢ (Cell BE) Architecture? That’s what those whacky folks at IBM call it. Since they co-invented it, we’ll let them have their fancy names. 🙂 The Cell BE will be the processor in the PlayStation 3 (PS3).

But if you ever wanted a whole whack of data about the Cell Cell Broadband Engine, then those whacky IBM folk are just what you need. They put up a big article analyzing the architecture up on their website. They really seem to like the Cell, saying in their introduction that “This paper shows that Cell BE can outperform other state-of-the-art processors by approximately an order of magnitude, or more in some cases.”

The Cell processor has a main PowerPC core (the POWER Processing Element or PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). Interestingly, the PowerPC core has dual-thread support, just like each of the cores in the Xbox 360’s CPU.

The paper goes into detail about the SPE’s: ” The SPE is a modular design consisting of a Synergistic Processing Unit (SPU) and a Memory Flow Controller (MFC). … At 3.2GHz, each SPU is capable of performing up to 51.2 billion 8-bit integer operations or 25.6GFLOPs in single precision.” The Cell will be capable of decoding an HDTV MPEG2 18Mbps stream at 77 frames per second. Or each SPE can decode 324 FPS of 5Mbps SD MPEG2.

Most interesting…

IBM – Cell Broadband Engine Architecture and its first implementation