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End of the line for IBM's Cell


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In an interview with Heise.de, IBM's VP of Deep Computing, David Turek, confirmed that the Cell processor has reached the end of the line. Turek then put a more positive spin on the news by stating the obvious truth that heterogeneous multiprocessors, of which Cell was the first mass-market example of, are here to stay, so insofar as IBM continues to produce such chips, Cell's basic concepts and ideas will live on in the company's product line.

By many metrics, Cell has been a success for IBM, even if it didn't live up to much of the hype that preceded its launch. In conjunction with x86 chips supplied by AMD processor, Cell has helped IBM's RoadRunner take and, until recently, keep the top slot in the Top 500 Supercomputer List. And, as this older HPCWire article on rumors of Cell's demise points out, Cell-based systems have been among the most power-efficient in the industry. IBM was able to build the specialized coprocessor in high enough volumes to keep its price down because the company was successful in selling it to Sony as a game console chip; the degree to which Cell, which gives the PS3 higher peak theoretical performance than the Xbox 360, has worked out for Sony is debatable. But IBM's decision to call it quits on the line confirms suspicions that Cell's overall commercial success has been limited, and there will be a number of cheaper, higher-performance, more widely supported alternatives to the processor starting in 2010.

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