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Toshiba Launches First Cell-based Laptop

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the my-laptop-has-been-cell-based-forever dept.

Portables 172

MojoKid writes "On Tuesday, Toshiba launched the Qosmio G55-802, the first laptop available with the Cell CPU. Yes, think PS3 technology, developed jointly by Toshiba, Sony, and IBM. However, in particular, the Cell CPU is not about gaming, but about the multimedia experience. Taking the load away from the Intel CPU, the Cell processor performs gesture control, face navigation, transcoding and upscaling to HD. Interestingly (and necessary, with 4 GB of RAM), the system comes with 64-bit Vista installed by default, but 32-bit Vista ships as an option as well." However, semi-relatedly, if you'd prefer your Cells run open-source code, 1i1' blu3 writes "IBM's put up an open source project downloads page for the Cell processor — APIs, toolkits, IDEs, libraries, algorithms, etc. Most of the stuff on it right now is from SourceForge, but they are asking for user contributions to add to it." (Terra Soft's also been providing a Cell-compatible Linux distro for a while now, and according to Wikipedia the kernel's supported it since version 2.6.16.)

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I for one... (1)

aeskdar (1136689) | about 6 years ago | (#24217225)

So it runs Linux... I for one welcome our new cell laptop overlords!

Put on your best face. (1)

ibane (1294214) | about 6 years ago | (#24217943)

Toshiba Face Navigation feature captures facial expressions so you can quickly locate the part of the video you want to see.

Toshiba catches your O face! Better put some tape over the built in camera or install free software. Better do both.

Vista is the new ceiling cat. (1)

inTheLoo (1255256) | about 6 years ago | (#24217975)

Put it in the ceiling, LOL.

You Dirty Man. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218455)

How dare you mention Vista [slashdot.org] in polite company?

Debian does well with any old P3. This thing is going to go critical and melt it's way to China [wikipedia.org] . Don't laugh too hard, given a bad enough design it can happen to your lap [wikipedia.org] . That's what it looks like when the Russian botnets take all nine of your processors.

Re:You Dirty Man. (1)

freenix (1294222) | about 6 years ago | (#24218511)

Nuclear laptop. That's hot.

wow.... (-1, Offtopic)

dedazo (737510) | about 6 years ago | (#24218913)

twitter, you're down to shilling your own posts with AC comments?

Don't you have any self-esteem left at all?

Re:wow.... (1)

freenix (1294222) | about 6 years ago | (#24219541)

WTF?

Toshiba Cat is Watching you Masturbate. (1)

Mactrope (1256892) | about 6 years ago | (#24218289)

Oh my [blogspot.com] .

Where are the apps coming from? (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 6 years ago | (#24217233)

And who is going to start writing custom built apps or patches to utilize the hardware on this one laptop?

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (3, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | about 6 years ago | (#24217431)

Probably the people who buy it.

Linux will support it of course. Offload video decompression (XVID/MPEG4/whatever) and audio decompression to the PPEs.

I'm sure Audacity and any other audio processing tools will support it. The GIMP could make use of it as well. Matlab of course.

Those are just off the top of my head.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (5, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 6 years ago | (#24217539)

When is the last time a company come along with a proprietary technology like this and received market acceptance? I seem to recall companies like Aegia and Rambus... Hell RDRAM didn't even require any change to software and provided higher performance, but it was one company and of course the price remained high.... Nah I don't expect to see this go much further than it already has, a few people will buy it and it will ship with some in house programs on it and just like every other system from a major manufacturer support and software will slowly fade into obscurity. Sure a few websites will be started in dedication of this thing and they will light up their message boards with how superior and awesome it was/is/could of been...

Change happens fast. (1)

ibane (1294214) | about 6 years ago | (#24218191)

I seem to recall an upstart called Intel that gained some market acceptance for their cheap 4 bit processors. IBM's Cell processor is already in wide use and free software already working well. The only odd thing about this laptop is that they put an Intel CPU in charge to support Windoze. The cost/performance ratio of Cell is simply too great to ignore, so it will become more common and you will see more rather than less of it. Intel is like a deer in the headlights.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (1)

bucky0 (229117) | about 6 years ago | (#24218653)

A good example would be PhysX processors or ultra-high end soundcards, NOT rambus. Rambus was prohibitively expensive and high latency to boot. Dual channel DDR + clock scaling came across and ate its lunch.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 years ago | (#24219851)

Your history of Rambus is totally wrong.

RDRAM traded latency for speed in a time where latency was the biggest problem. It was slow, and expensive. Then then stole ideas from an open committee of memory manufacturers and patented them. Then they were sued repeatedly.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 6 years ago | (#24218245)

Chances are big that the laptop would remain an expensive toy for rich geeks.

Linux main driving force are people who try to make out of literally junk computers something usable (and at large they succeed). Majority of people are those who can't afford computers nor proprietary OSs - and they have natural interest in such stuff.

I'd say that if the laptop costs below $600 mark - then it might have chance. But something tells me that at $1600 it would find few followers.

P.S. But you might expect rabid adoption rate among scholars or even Universities buying the laptop for their stuff. The guys can code up whatever they need.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218293)

I can't get linux to support my SiS video chipset in my ibm thinkpad, I think the odds of this happening are just about.. zero.

ps3 emulation! (2, Interesting)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#24218421)

What about ps3 emulation?

Re:ps3 emulation! (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 6 years ago | (#24218607)

+10.

Why I didn't think of the option!!

But if that would happen, then Sony would politely ask Toshi (in deal, for undisclosed amount of money) to cease production of the laptops. You can bet.

Re:ps3 emulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218719)

and then toshiba, who would still be upset about the whole hd-dvd thing, would refuse... lol

Re:ps3 emulation! (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 6 years ago | (#24218729)

Forget that - this thing runs linux!!!

hold on! PS3 emulation... running yellow dog!

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#24217473)

I don't think that will be too much of an issue. My guess it will be used as a device like a GPU or DSP on a sound card.

Re:Where are the apps coming from? (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 6 years ago | (#24217633)

I don't think that will be too much of an issue. My guess it will be used as a device like a GPU or DSP on a sound card.

And we all know how easy it is to add hardware acceleration for products from major vendors like Creative, Nvidia, AMD... The architectures these companies have produced have far greater market penetration then Toshiba could dream to see and yet there isn't across the board support for such common devices. Not many are going to be coding for a piece of hardware only one manufacture is producing. Unless this thing is seen in rigs across the board and/or it demonstrates a highly tangible benefit it simply won't be supported by the fast majority of software.

me (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 6 years ago | (#24217951)

I've been thinking about porting a CFD code to PS3, but this would be interesting. There's been at least one company making Cell add-in cards but they have been prohibitively expensive.

It's kind of like using your GPU for fast math. No wait, the exact same thing :)

Not cell-based, cell-assisted (5, Insightful)

ALecs (118703) | about 6 years ago | (#24217289)

According to the article (and hinted by the summary), the thing has an ordinary Intel Core2Duo CPU. I'm assuming the cell is the "Toshiba quad code HD Processor" mentioned in the article. So it's a co-processor, then. My best guess it it's a 4-SPU cell processor without the PowerPC core. Weird...

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (5, Informative)

crabbz (986605) | about 6 years ago | (#24217347)

Yes, it isn't a Cell, it is Toshiba's Spurs Engine [wikipedia.org] with 4 SPEs and no PPE.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (2, Interesting)

ALecs (118703) | about 6 years ago | (#24217671)

Wow - this could be a real win for scientific computing. Traditional GPU-based computation is hindered by the poor I/O (I guess PCI-e is fixing this but I don't know). And PS3-based cell computation is hindered by lack of RAM _and_ poor I/O. But this thing looks like it's hooked up to some nice RAM and a PCI-e bus and could really crunch some FFTs.

We have an experimental PS3-based cell data reduction system here but it's just too slow. I can almost hear my phone ringing as one of our scientists starts asking to buy one of these guys...

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (2, Informative)

stephentyrone (664894) | about 6 years ago | (#24217919)

Single precision only, non IEEE-754 arithmetic isn't a "real win for scientific computing". It's a win for getting the wrong answers really, really quickly.

Yes, I know that there are problems for which the limitations of the SPEs don't kill the accuracy of the solution, but people (even scientists) rarely do a complete analysis of whether or not their problem is one of those before they set off to use the new faster hotness.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (3, Insightful)

MatanZ (4571) | about 6 years ago | (#24218097)

Most scientific calculations use integer opertation of the CPU, impelementing their own Floating/Fixed point if needed. The type of calculations for which single precision gets the wrong answer really quickly, but double precision is perfect is very rare.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (1)

stephentyrone (664894) | about 6 years ago | (#24218973)

This was true once (before Wilkinson/Kahan/others showed that you could do meaningful error analysis for floating-point all those years ago). It's not really true anymore. The vast bulk of scientific computing is now done in floating-point, except for specialized problems that require more than double precision, or problems that are fundamentally discrete in nature and are best performed in integer.

The performance benefit from using hardware floating-point vs. soft float is simply too huge to be left on the table. Double precision is rarely "perfect", as you say, but it is by far the most used format for scientific computing:

Consider that EVERY computation in MATLAB is done in double, and you've already got one giant slice of the scientific market. On top of that, most of the most heavily used libraries for scientific computing (BLAS, LAPACK, FFTW, for example) provide double and single precision routines (not integer).

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 6 years ago | (#24219117)

That's not true. For quad / multi-precision it makes sense to do the work on FP words in the FP pipes rather than integer. It's faster and the free normalisation helps things out. There are well-known tricks like Dekker splits to ensure bit-accuracy across multi-precision values.

Even for integer work (like crypto) people are moving towards using FP because it can speed up calculations. Not that FP arithmetic is intrinsically faster, it's just that manufacturers throw area at FP units and so the throughput is higher than integer units. Bernstein's work on Curve255 is worth a look as a good example.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 years ago | (#24218807)

Wow - this could be a real win for scientific computing.

I'd like to see what a company like Metric Halo could do with using this Cell processor as one or more DSPs as an onboard digital audio adapter.

I've often wondered why there aren't portable audio-centric systems for DAW users like me. It would be great to have a portable box that I could use for live performance or field recording that wouldn't require some outboard Firewire audio adapter. Whenever I have to carry a Powerbook or Thinkpad with a firewire adapter into a club or festival-style venue and then hope it all hangs together while producing live audio (and sometimes video - using Resolume or other apps).

I bet there's lots of cool applications for these Cell-based laptops or hybrid Core2Duo/Cell systems.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (1)

anishm (770357) | about 6 years ago | (#24219021)

Wow - this could be a real win for scientific computing. Traditional GPU-based computation is hindered by the poor I/O (I guess PCI-e is fixing this but I don't know). And PS3-based cell computation is hindered by lack of RAM _and_ poor I/O. But this thing looks like it's hooked up to some nice RAM and a PCI-e bus and could really crunch some FFTs.

Most modern GPUs will also connect to PCI-e.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24219289)

You can already buy a full-blown Cell based system, if you want to. It will be perfectly suitable for scientific computing, because that's what it's built for. Look up QS22, RoadRunner and also take a look at the top of the Green 500 list.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (5, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 years ago | (#24217817)

So combined with the comment above that Ben Heck already did a PS3-based laptop, we find that the only accurate words in the headline are "toshiba", "launches", and "laptop".

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (5, Funny)

AeroIllini (726211) | about 6 years ago | (#24218593)

Oh man I hope the combination of those three words involves a trebuchet.

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218619)

Well, there is some dispute now about whether this can really be called a laptop with an 18" screen. So I propose that only "toshiba" and "launches" are accurate. I'm sure somebody will be able to dispute "launches." Who's going to take "toshiba?"

captcha: ruined

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (2, Informative)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 6 years ago | (#24217383)

This appears to be some earlier info on the kit they are using in this laptop, here [reghardware.co.uk] , with pictures!

Re:Not cell-based, cell-assisted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217989)

Of course, do you expect vista to run on PowerPC ?

PAE mode? (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 6 years ago | (#24217371)

http://home.comcast.net/~SupportCD/XPMyths.html [comcast.net]

Modern hardware except one particular Pentium M stepping (which was popular for a while) handles PAE. 64G RAM on 32-bit

Re:PAE mode? (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 6 years ago | (#24217423)

You are a rube.

Re:PAE mode? (4, Insightful)

Anders (395) | about 6 years ago | (#24217595)

Modern hardware except one particular Pentium M stepping (which was popular for a while) handles PAE. 64G RAM on 32-bit

But Windows does not [microsoft.com] .

Re:PAE mode? (3, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 6 years ago | (#24217757)

Because of the way that windows "pages" memory (and I'm assuming your running a server version of the OS, cause XP and vista don't work with PAE) you still can't have a single process with much more than 3GB of ram on a 32bit system. You can have multiple processes running with 3GB of ram, but then you get some slowdowns from paging in and out the memory.

If Memory serves, this is part of the reason that Exchange 2007 requires 64-bit OS's and processors. (except for the demo and SMB versions)

Re:PAE mode? (1, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | about 6 years ago | (#24217773)

PAE is a hack.

Better to ditch it and move to 64-bit.

Gesture based and Face navigation.. Sweet! (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | about 6 years ago | (#24217429)

Having a laptop that does Gesture based and Face navigation...So what happens if you give it the finger? Does it shut down? or does rolling your eyes bring up email?

Re:Gesture based and Face navigation.. Sweet! (3, Funny)

gdog05 (975196) | about 6 years ago | (#24217651)

I think giving it the finger will boot Windows, and rolling your eyes will start Firefox and head to YouTube. Sneezing of course, will run an anti-virus scan.

Big, big let-down (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 years ago | (#24217523)

I thought this was going to be the first fuel-cell based laptop.
Especially after reading how a fuel-cell the size of a regular battery can operate a cell phone for 2,700 hours of talk-time. [slashgear.com]

Re:Big, big let-down (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | about 6 years ago | (#24218893)

That's a bit unclear. They didn't claim that you can run a phone for 2700 hours. You still have to recharge the fuel cell every few hours like a battery. They are saying that's how long the same fuel-cell can be used without severe charge deterioration. In other words, you wouldn't have to replace the fuel cell as often as you have to replace rechargeable batteries that have lost too much of their capacity for recharging. It's a an improvement, but not as large as it seems at first glance.

Re:Big, big let-down (1)

Aetuneo (1130295) | about 6 years ago | (#24218925)

But you can't take it on airplanes. In fact, if you even bring it to the airport, you're going to be taken aside for additional questioning, and then put on a flight to ... well, that destination is classified.

Re:Big, big let-down (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 years ago | (#24219879)

How this fuck? That fuel cell can't hold more than a couple cubic cm of gas and it can power a cell phone for 2700 hrs? I call BS...

Re:Big, big let-down (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 years ago | (#24219893)

the* (god damnit...)

Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (3, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#24217549)

For almost 10-years now, Slashdot has pipmped Terra Soft and Yellow Dog. There's Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo, and SuSE (you know, distros people actually use out there) available for the Cell processor and PS3, and Slashdot shills for Terra Soft. This was true back when PPC linux was mildly popular too... Debian, Slackware, SuSE... They all supported it, but Slashdot pimps Yellow Dog. What gives?

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | about 6 years ago | (#24217699)

Maybe Malda really liked the movie "Old Yeller".

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

Otter (3800) | about 6 years ago | (#24217969)

I've submitted a number of those stories, and from my side I've been surprised at how little interest there is in them compared to yet-another-video-card and vaporware stories, let alone throwing-raw-meat-to-the-mob stuff about SCO and the RIAA.

Anyway, there's a huge difference between a distro specifically designed for a platform and some half-assed port. I don't have a PS3, but can tell you that there was no comparison between Yellow Dog and things like SuSE PPC that maybe could install a bunch of recompiled packages and then boot you into a useless environment.

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#24218189)

As somebody who bought a PowerBook G3 when they came out specifically to play with Yellow Dog Linux on it, my experience was the opposite. Perhaps you just don't like SuSE?

My experience was that Yellow Dog was a half-assed port of RedHat to PPC, and Debian for PPC was Debian. With Yellow Dog you felt like you almost had a working RedHat system, but things were out of date, and many of the things you were used to were unavailable. Debian had none of those problems.

Admittedly, I've not gone back and tried Yellow Dog since 2001, but why would I after that initial experience, and the existence of other high-quality, mainstream options?

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 years ago | (#24218867)

I've submitted a number of those stories, and from my side I've been surprised at how little interest there is in them compared to yet-another-video-card and vaporware stories, let alone throwing-raw-meat-to-the-mob stuff about SCO and the RIAA.

Otter, maybe there's something about the stories you submitted besides the content or point of view that's keeping the interest-level down.

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

Otter (3800) | about 6 years ago | (#24219057)

Perhaps, but I always confuse "it's" and "its", link perfectly obvious words to Wikipedia and conclude with an idiotic "question" like "Could this be the end of x86 on the desktop?" Is there anything I'm missing?

Anyway, my point was less to complain about my submissions than to respond to the OP's conspiracy theory. TerraSoft makes genuinely interesting stuff, and I certainly don't think they're getting too much attention here!

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (2, Funny)

mhall119 (1035984) | about 6 years ago | (#24218213)

Yeah, Slashdot has been giving Ubuntu nearly enough coverage!

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 6 years ago | (#24218351)

[...] and Slashdot shills for Terra Soft.

TerrSoft was one of the initial (and major) developers of Cell support on Linux. As well they were more or less official supplier of Linux for PS3.

They as well remain one of the major PowerPC/POWER supporters and developers of Linux on PPC*/POWER*. (Largest PPC users now are in embedded market - not in desktop/workstation market where TerraSoft is working.)

Rest of distros, in large part, merely have used the GPLed work done by TerraSoft.

That might sound like shilling, but the guys deserve credit for their hard work.

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218703)

I cannot understand why Debian hasn't forked Linux. They have been bullied from day one, with RPMs and similar shit, and Linus only cares about his owners at Red Hat and verbally abusing OpenBSD users.
I for one would support Debiux.

Re:Does Terra-Soft pay Slashdot? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 years ago | (#24219857)

Yellow Dog is the official distro for the cell processor?

Get x86 out! (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | about 6 years ago | (#24217555)

Please, someone! The new PowerPC's look to be combined with Cell like this in the U of Illinois supercomputer (to dwarf Roadrunner). I don't mind an asymmetric combination as long as x86 is out. The Linux version should be good, but Linus has maintained that x86 will be the most important target for awhile. I can't see it handling the helper cores very well--it's just barely getting NUMA working well.

shameless (0, Troll)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#24217577)

another shameless slashvertisement. Just because someone does something stupid with the wrong type of hardware, that doesn't mean slashdot needs to feed hothardware more ad revenue.

Re:shameless (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 6 years ago | (#24218417)

Actually to me it looked moke like Toshi, while the giants - nVidia/ATI/Intel - are wrestling on GPU-CPU split, tries to stab them in a back.

If they had ever tried to deliver on promise of cheap Cell, they might have already won the ongoing CPU acceleration war.

Good price too (4, Informative)

Scotteh (885130) | about 6 years ago | (#24217581)

It's only $1549.99 which is the average price of Sony VAIOs [sonystyle.ca]

Yes, but will it run ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217611)

Windows XP?

PS3 + linux = shit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217623)

The RSX is still locked away and there is no decent video driver. It's like using an old Pentium machine.

So, would cell help with. . . (3, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 6 years ago | (#24217723)

I've been wondering, if Cell technology were integrated into general purpose PCs, what kind of tasks it would help with. Could it be used to accellerate. . .

* Crypto functions (like whole-disk encryption, or encrypted volumes (like TrueCrypt)?

* High resolution video decoding, so the processor doesn't have to chug so much on it? From the article, it sounds like this might be one use of the cell?

* Grid computing - things like World Community Grid, distributed.net, SETI@home etc? I imagine this probably depends, at least in part, on the specific types of computations being done for the project you participate in, but would you commonly be able to do more computation, faster, for those types of projects if you had cell processors?

Can a GPU like one from Nvidia or ATI potentially work together *with* the cell processor to increase the GPU's capabilities? (I'd guess that would probably depend on the drivers having support for the Cell, and I'm guessing that current generation drivers probably wouldn't take any advantage of the Cell?)

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (1)

schwaang (667808) | about 6 years ago | (#24218053)

Can a GPU like one from Nvidia or ATI potentially work together *with* the cell processor to increase the GPU's capabilities? (I'd guess that would probably depend on the drivers having support for the Cell, and I'm guessing that current generation drivers probably wouldn't take any advantage of the Cell?)

Not likely, since they are competing with each other for the same markets (acceleration of graphics and computation, including all the examples you gave like encryption, etc.). They are two approaches to the same end, so no sense in mixing them.

An OS could use either or both if they exist. Individual apps would probably be written for one or the other but not both. And nobody is going to produce a graphics/compute card that mixes the two.

Hmm. . . Cell *instead* of GPU? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | about 6 years ago | (#24219607)

What's the price of a Cell vs a GPU? Nowadays, I think you can get a pretty decent GPU for less than $100? Still, I wonder if, for low-end systems, would it make sense, financially, to use a low-end CPU (like an Atom or Intel's 'economy' Pentium mobile CPUs), which wouldn't maybe be able to handle high-def video, and add on a Cell? Although, at that point, it's probably cheaper to get a Core2 CPU, and not worry about GPU or Cell.

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | about 6 years ago | (#24218257)

At that point you'd probably be better off with a couple of FPGAs.

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 6 years ago | (#24218541)

My guess would be - Yes, No, Yes.

For second - HD video decoding - to be any efficient, it has to be done very close to video output. Otherwise, HD video might take up some huge chunk of internal buses bandwidth. After all you first have to transfer data from RAM to Cell, then from Cell to video adapter. (*) That can get really messy without proper integration of Cell into computer architecture. And as long as Cell isn't main CPU, the problem would remain. PS3 doesn't have this problem because Cell is used (and wired) as main processor. That's not the fact for PC hardware, where all vendors have to be Windows compatible.

Also I think Cell in large is competitor to nVidia/ATI solutions for CPU accelerations - not companion.

(*) Fact: CPUs for quite some time are capable of decoding HD video in real time - it's the transfer (1) to/from RAM and (2) video hardware which takes most of the time.

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (1)

nxtw (866177) | about 6 years ago | (#24218861)

High resolution video decoding, so the processor doesn't have to chug so much on it? From the article, it sounds like this might be one use of the cell?

It might be possible, but within a year or two, any system sold will probably be able to playback HD video.

Most CPUs sold today can decode 1920x1080 MPEG2 and many can handle VC1 (including the 2.0 GHz Core 2 in this laptop), and just about any GPU sold today can deinterlace 1080i video (although some cards are better than others.) High-end/overclocked Core 2 chips can also decode h.264 1080p. All modern GPUs also do some sort of upscaling (once again, some are better than others.) This laptop's GeForce 9600M GPU should be able to fully decode h.264 1080p video as found on Blu-ray discs, which is the most CPU-intensive video distributed to consumers. Current ATI GPUs decode VC-1 and H.264 and upcoming Intel GPUs will decode H.264 (and possibly VC-1.)

So:
- the Cell is unnecessary for 1080p content, unless you're doing heavy postprocessing that can't be implemented on the GPU (or you're using a monitor > 1920x1200 and the Cell can do a better job of scaling)
- the Cell is unnecessary for 1080i video content, unless it's been programmed to do better deinterlacing than your video card. (any modern GPU should have pulldown detection, so 1080i film content won't be deinterlaced.)
- the Cell is unnecessary for upscaling video, unless it's been programmed to do better scaling than your video card. (this is possible - but for low resolution content, modern CPUs can produce better results than some GPUs as it is.)

In summary, today's mid to high-end systems can already play back HD video without difficulty. The Cell might be able to do some processing tasks better, but how much better?

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24219543)

To all of your questions: Yes.

What makes the Cell B.E. so fast are its SPUs, which are independent SIMD computers, with their own memory and a very high speed interconnect between the SPUs.

SIMD stands for "Single Instruction, Multiple Data" and means that you can process multiple data items in one instruction. It's the same thing that MMX and AltiVec and the GPUs do: You put (in current implementations) up to four 32-Bit values in one large register and let one instruction process the register value. The result will be four 32-Bit values in one large register.

On a high level, that means you can stuff in e.g. two vectors (a1, a2, a3, a4) and (b1, b2, b3, b4) and tell the CPU to add them, and it will process the independent values in parallel and give you the result within one instruction. Whereas on a "normal" CPU you'd have to do the math yourself, i.e. add a1 + b1, then add a2 + b2, etc. - sequentially.

So, basically, everything that can be parallelized and is computation heavy will be pretty fast on the Cell, compared to other CPUs. However, if you heavily depend on I/O, the Cell won't help as much.

Re:So, would cell help with. . . (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 years ago | (#24219923)

* Crysis

Toshiba Impresses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217727)

It's too bad it takes a Toshiba in today's world to do something Apple would have done but for the fact that the company completely sold out.

The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (5, Insightful)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | about 6 years ago | (#24217739)

Yes, think PS3 technology, developed jointly by Toshiba, Sony, and IBM.

Saying that the Cell BEA was developed for the PlayStation 3 is like saying the wheel was developed for razor scooters. The PlayStation 3 uses the Cell, but the Cell was not made solely for the PlayStation. The Cell was developed to be a floating point and vector arithmetic monster that would be at home in a supercomputer, which it is.

I have nothing against the PlayStation 3, but I get upset when a myth like this is perpetuated. Saying that one of the most powerful processors available today was 'made to play video games' detracts from it and gives readers an incorrect impression (in my humble opinion).

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217899)

Wrong. Completely wrong.

Cell was the brainchild of Sony's hardware genius Kutagari and IBM's Hofstee - equally a genius but in a different way.

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (2, Informative)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | about 6 years ago | (#24218411)

Cell was the brainchild of Sony's hardware genius Kutagari and IBM's Hofstee...

Kutagari may have been thinking about consoles when he came up with the idea that would become the Cell BEA, but when development started on the Cell the design team's goal was high performance in a many different applications. Many of the Cell processors sold thus far have been in PlayStations, and it may be their most visible application, but I believe the PlayStation represents only a fraction of Cell's potential utility.

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217915)

Dude, calm down. A "gamer's system" is synonymous with bleeding edge performance. Gaming devices routinely push more FLOPS than any other consumer-accessible device. "The most powerful processors available today" are available because kids will pay through the nose to play FFXII, not because your spreadsheet's running too slowly.

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (1)

eebra82 (907996) | about 6 years ago | (#24217929)

Yes, think PS3 technology, developed jointly by Toshiba, Sony, and IBM.

Saying that the Cell BEA was developed for the PlayStation 3 is like saying the wheel was developed for razor scooters. The PlayStation 3 uses the Cell, but the Cell was not made solely for the PlayStation. The Cell was developed to be a floating point and vector arithmetic monster that would be at home in a supercomputer, which it is.

I think you're reading his/her words incorrectly. The way I see it, the author wrote that you get technology used in the PS3 in your computer. After all, the Cell is PS3 technology since it consists of one.

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (1)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | about 6 years ago | (#24218495)

I think you're reading his/her words incorrectly. The way I see it, the author wrote that you get technology used in the PS3 in your computer. After all, the Cell is PS3 technology since it consists of one.

That is a true and valid point. I may have overreacted (I blame coffee) but I've grown uncomfortable sitting on that rant for so long. The author's statement would have been just as correct if he/she had said 'Yes, think supercomputer technology...'

Re:The cell was NOT developed for the PS3 (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 years ago | (#24219977)

They made the Cell for vector processing. Video gaming needs a lot of vectors processed. The PS3 can play said games. Sony/et al realized that the Cell wouldn't be popular unless it had a large user base. The PS3 needed a processor. The Cell needed a home. It was a purely financial move to use the Cell in the PS3. The PS3 was merely a stepping stone to world domination by the Cell.

I nervously await our Cell-powered overlords.

Fail for Windows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217765)

Do Toshiba sell these things without an OS?

18.4" Screen: Laptop? (3, Interesting)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 6 years ago | (#24217907)

There's got to be some upper limit to be called a laptop. I looked at screen resolution first, it's 1680x945. It's an odd size, not as many pixels as some other laptops. Then I noticed the size in inches: 18.4! Base weight: 10lbs.

I don't have a problem with large computers you carry from room to room with a built-in UPS. But at some point it's a desktop all-in-one or something else.

Re:18.4" Screen: Laptop? (1)

doconnor (134648) | about 6 years ago | (#24218225)

The technical term is "Luggable".

Crap summary of feeble article. Pass. (1)

deprecated (86120) | about 6 years ago | (#24217925)

Worse than usual. I know less than before I read it.

Buh? (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 6 years ago | (#24217949)

Cell CPU is not about gaming, but about the multimedia experience.

Not sure about anyone else, but by my definition, gaming is a multimedia experience

huh? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 6 years ago | (#24217965)

Did anyone else parse Qosmio as Quasimodo?

Funny how they mention the 4gb's of ram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24217991)

and its inherent need for a 64bit OS. Shows you that M$ is already worried about how to sell their 32bit vista trash when hardware has surpassed its limitations. Of course you can buy vista64 but why would you pay for the same OS twice?

Re:Funny how they mention the 4gb's of ram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24218441)

I'm sorry, did you just say "I don't know what I'm talking about," cause that's what I got from your barely cohesive statement that one can possible interpret to be a full thought. Nothing here gives any evidence that Microsoft is worried about anything at all. This has nothing to do with Microsoft. If they're worried, so be it. Vista is becoming a bit more stable. I had gripes with it until I got it for free from a product launch and honestly, its not half bad. Its confusing cause settings are in different spots, but thats about it. Your statement about buying a system twice makes no sense. What are you talking about? Who is buying the OS twice?

Not Cell-based (1)

rbanffy (584143) | about 6 years ago | (#24218069)

This is not a Cell based laptop. It's a PC laptop with a Cell processor inside.

The Cell is a cool add-on but it does not make this a very interesting laptop by itself.

I would love to see a pure Cell-based laptop, mostly because it would be a decent performer and an outstanding number-cruncher. The fact that it would be completely Windows-proof would be a nice bonus.

Battery life? (1)

pwnies (1034518) | about 6 years ago | (#24218255)

Anyone else curious about what kind of battery life this thing gets? I know that the ps3 sucks enough power to black out a small country, so I'm interested (read: worried) in how long this thing will last on battery power.

Qosmio? (2, Insightful)

Squiffy (242681) | about 6 years ago | (#24218329)

Qosmio? What a stupid name. It totally drips with unnecessary marketing affectation. It's like they were trying to cram as much cheesy bullshit into one name as they possibly could.

Cosmo? Not quite.
Cosmio? Hm, needs a little more bullshit.
Qosmio! Yes, good job. That 'q' really ratchets up the puke factor. Well done.

But Does It Run Ubuntu? (1, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#24218483)

I hope the appearance of the Cell in actual PCs, not just the RAM-hardwired and GPU-lockedout (and no PCI) PS3 will reignite official support of Cell Ubuntu. Until last year, Ubuntu was officially supporting the PPC-based Cell version of their distro. Now it's just a community effort that needs your help [psubuntu.com] . Ubuntu is working, with some bugs (right now mainly the installer, and beta bugs in the Cell SPE video driver). If there were more diverse Cell PC HW, and a larger, more diverse developer community coming with it, there might be better Ubuntu. Since both the PS3 and this notebook are primarily useful as workstations and media stations, Ubuntu really is the best flavor out there that also keeps up with the other Linux desktop productivity apps.

Not a Cell CPU (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#24218573)

On closer examination of the specs, this laptop isn't a Cell CPU at all. It's Toshiba's "Spurs" coprocessor, which is like a Cell but with the central PPC core stripped out and only half the Cell's 4 SPE DSPs, hooked up to a Pentium Core 2 Duo instead. That might be an interesting platform for experimenting with Linux and DSP, but it's not a Cell, and has practically no relation to any Cell/Linux project, nor Ubuntu in particular.

Both the Slashdot story and the actual article lie about the CPU being a "Cell". How stupid.

Why the negativity? (1)

smackenzie (912024) | about 6 years ago | (#24218635)

I'm just surprised that I haven't seen anyone mention that this machine is actually quite capable and very reasonably priced.

You get a decent Intel Core2 Duo processor, a fantastic graphics card and, oh, by the way, a 4 SPE unit Cell processor. You also get two 250 GB drives that you could probably run in RAID to increase speed, an 18.4 (!!) inch LCD screen. All for around $1550.

Seems like an ideal machine for someone who might want to start developing for the Cell or for entire research, business or educational departments that could benefit from SPEs/ And, unlike typical niche products, this machine seems reasonably priced.

Why the negativity?

That's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24219449)

My laptop has nine cells.

I thank you for yPour time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24219497)

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