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Future technology: Kutaragi on Cell

A couple of weeks ago the East Asia Electronic Engineering Times (EET) did an interview with Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc and the key driver behind IBM's Cell processor.

Here's a small part of the exchange:

EET: The Cell processor targets general-purpose applications. Does it satisfy all the requirements for a game processor?

Kutaragi: All of those requirements have been incorporated; we did not compromise the processor.

The Cell processor will completely change the concept of programming. Conventionally, programming has sought to pull out the best performance from a closed processor and a certain capacity memory. The Cell processor assumes the existence of multiple Cells.

The model image for the Cell-based network may be the Internet: Servers around the world form one virtual "computer," and each PC accesses it. One Cell or cluster of Cells can also function as a server; but whereas the present Internet mainly handles characters, applications on the Cell network will also handle semantics and reasoning.

Though sold as a game console, what will in fact enter the home is a Cell-based computer.

People now have various media in their homes, but those media are not yet organized. The Cell handles those media intelligently. For example, it can compile images and video footage of you by recognizing your images from a vast accumulation [of images]. When used for security, it could use image recognition to identify the presence of a stranger in a monitored area.

The Cell enables enormous applications that require image processing and large-volume computing. Using the Cell, it would be easy to form a secure home network that would connect home audio and video devices.

If you work in computing and you haven't started thinking about how to either compete or co-exist with this thing, you may be leaving it a little late - and when you do start, thing big - think Intel turning into history, Microsoft buying Apple to compete in the home, Toshiba becoming the biggest PC vendor on the planet.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.