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Portables Hardware

Toshiba Launches First Cell-based Laptop 172

Posted by timothy
from the my-laptop-has-been-cell-based-forever dept.
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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Toshiba Launches First Cell-based Laptop

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  • Big, big let-down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:04PM (#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]

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:05PM (#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?

  • by ALecs (118703) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:12PM (#24217671) Homepage
    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...

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:16PM (#24217723) Journal

    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?)

  • Fail for Windows (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:19PM (#24217765)

    Do Toshiba sell these things without an OS?

  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:29PM (#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.

  • ps3 emulation! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @02:54PM (#24218421) Journal
    What about ps3 emulation?
  • Availability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:23PM (#24222441) Homepage

    I seem to recall companies like Aegia

    The big difference is the availability.
    Although both the Cell and the PhysX share some architecture design, it's about the only thing they have in common.

    PhysX was only available on 1 single type of board. No tools available at all to develop code for the chip, only a physics library which only provided 1 single API.
    The only thing you could do as a user is buy it, stick it into the computer and hope that game developper will release patches supporting it.
    The only thing you could do as a developer is write some physics simulation into the game you're developing.

    Cell has lot of tools to develop code to run of it. Including open source compilers (gcc for example), and including frameworks dedicated at doing stream computing (RapidMind can produce SPE code). Thanks to the fact that its main CPU part is a plain simple PowerPC, there is even a lot of prior knowledge that can be recycled.

    And the Cell is available on lots of devide ranging on small device on which the would-be developer can test some code like PS3 (compatible with Linux out-of-the-box) and this laptop (x86-based with Vista, but offers a cell as a coprocessor) all the way up to big servers with several cell boardlet inside, ready to do some crazy super computing for scientist.

    Anyone can develop for Cell and run pretty much everything they want on it, and even have access to a significative range of platform to test the code.

    The cell is much more likely to experience some success that the PhysX did.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @12:37AM (#24224299)

    Linux already has full support for Cell SPEs.

    In what sense? These are small CPUs that only have access to 256K or on board memory. They have no MMU. You're not going to run Linux processes on them, they're meant run signal processing code. Even if Linux has a driver, it's still non trivial to modify exising applications so they can be broken up into SPE sized chunks.

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