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Home PC Chip From Sony, IBM, Toshiba Due To Pilot Next Year

They say that the so-called Cell chip would allow computers and consumer electronics to quickly process huge amounts of video and other digital content.

Sony plans to begin selling home servers for broadband and high-definition TV systems powered by a revolutionary new computer chip in 2006, the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant said Monday.

Sony also said a next-generation video-game console powered by the chip, known as Cell, was also in the works, although it didn't give a date for its release.

IBM, Sony and Toshiba, a Japanese electronics maker, have been working together on Cell since 2001, but the partners have been reluctant to disclose details. They said Monday that Cell will allow computers and consumer electronics products to quickly process huge amounts of video and other digital content.

The technical details of Cell will be disclosed in papers at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, which begins Feb. 6 next year, the companies said.

The companies said Cell is made up of a 64-bit power processor core as well as multiple processor cores that can handle broadband applications, including video games, movies and other digital content.

IBM plans to begin pilot production of Cell during the first half of next year, and the first application is a workstation it is developing with Sony. Toshiba expects to launch its first Cell-based product, a high-definition TV, in 2006, the companies said.

Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony's video-game unit, said appliances of the future will link by broadband to process massive amounts of movie and digital images.

"Current PC architecture is nearing its limits," he said.

The design work for Cell has been taking place at a joint lab in Austin, Texas, the companies said.

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