Toshiba begins shipment of SpursEngine reference design

Thursday 10th April 2008, 07:04:00 PM, written by Carl Bender

Introduced by Toshiba at CEATEC last September, the Cell-based SpursEngine media co-processor has begun sample shipment in the form of a single lane PCI Express add-in board.  Targeted initially towards the acceleration of media applications within the consumer electronics and PC realms, the SE1000 makes encoding/decoding of 'Full HD' (1080p) MPEG-2 and H.264 streams a primary focus, with an emphasis on best-in-class image quality.

The board itself includes 12.8GB/s of bandwidth via the 128MB of XDR memory provided onboard (2 512Mbit modules); the SpursEngine is clocked at 1.5GHz, with the four SPEs serving as the primary processing workhorses (48GFlops). Fabbed on Toshiba's bulk 65nm CMOS5 process, the chip is very inexpensive when compared to the full-sized, SOI-based Cell chips found within Sony's PlayStation 3 and IBM's QS20/QS21 blade offerings. Present pricing is ~$100 per unit, with Toshiba predicting they will sell 6 million of the chips over the course of the next three years as costs drop further. Expectations run high for the internal use of the chip as well, to be featured in upcoming high-end A/V gear including DVD players and HD TVs supporting Toshiba's "super up-conversion."

SDKs for the SpursEngine include a full x86 PC-based environment with SPE compiler, debugger, performance monitor, API middleware, and example code/applications. Prominent partners presently sampling chips and developing applications around the SpursEngine include Corel, Cyberlink, and LeadTek.

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