Friday, May 9, 2008

Toshiba Plans to Equip Multimedia Laptops with SpursEngine Processor

Toshiba plans to equip some of its multimedia-oriented mobile computers with its multimedia processor that can accelerate various applications, including graphics, physics, video and so on. Toshiba did not disclose how much its customers should pay for the part.

On the 8th of May Toshiba disclosed its growth strategies for investors for the year 2008, one of which was integration of the SpursEngine processor into advanced media center AV Qosmio notebooks. According to Toshiba, the Cell-derivative processor will upscale standard picture quality to high definition resolution. While the manufacturer did not disclose into details, it claimed that the notebook would be available in 2008.

It will depend on software support whether special-purpose accelerator from Toshiba brings any benefits, but recently the company announced that its chip is supported by such software companies as Corel and Cyberlink.

SpursEngine is a co-processor that integrates four of Cell high-performance RISC core SPEs, half the number of the full configuration, hardware dedicated to decoding and encoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 video, XDR memory interface as well as PCI Express interface. By combining the high level, real time processing software of the SPEs with the hardware video codecs, the SpursEngine realizes an optimized balance of processing flexibility and low power consumption. The prototype of SpursEngine operates at a clock frequency of 1.5GHz and consumes power at 10W to 20W.

The SpursEngine SE1000 reference board is compliant with PCI Express 1.1 x1 and x4 slots, sports 128MB of 1.6GHz XDR memory and carries SpursEngine processor at unknown clock-speed.

Toshiba’s SpursEngine processor may be used for various products and in various markets. In the computer industry the SpursEngine may be used for video processing, graphics computations, physics computations and various other applications that involve processing of data streams. Potentially, video professionals may find useful to decode or encode four full-HD (1920x1080 with progressive scan, 1080p) streams at once. In the consumer space currently only two full-HD video decoders are required to provide picture-in-picture functionality on Blu-ray and HD DVD players, however, as high-definition television becomes more popular and more channels are broadcasted digitally, four-way video processing may become a necessary feature for advanced HDTVs.

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