The company on Tuesday announced that Mercury Computer Systems Inc., of Chelmsford, Mass., will use the Cell in computers built for industries such as aerospace and health care. The computer maker expects the Cell to increase the base processing performance of its systems as much as 10 times, IBM said.
IBMs Systems and Technology Group has been looking to boost adoption of its Power architecture chips. The company will supply the Cell chips as well as assistance on integrating its new technology into Mercury Computer systems line of servers and workstations, IBM executives said.
The agreement, which represent Cells first move outside of the video game console market, shows theres a potential for the chip to work for numerous other applications, said Nigel Beck, IBM vice president of technology marketing. He pointed to applications including medical imaging and rendering graphical data such as radar images for military computers.
Cell is "applicable to the next generation of applications that exhibit similar characteristics to games," Beck said. But "IBM along could not take Cell into the military and aerospace realm."
IBM, along with co-developers Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp., are on the lookout for new applications to expand the Cell chips reach. Sony, for its part, will use the chip in its forthcoming Playstation 3 video game console as well as in mobile devices, a project involving chipmaker-turned-intellectual-property supplier Transmeta Corp. The chip maker, which made a splash with its Crusoe processor, is attempting to remake itself as a technology licensing and services company.
IBMs chip groups Engineering and Technical Services arm will be responsible for assisting Mercury Computer Systems with its designs, Beck said.
Meanwhile, Big Blue has been working to promote the use of Cell in other ways.
The companys Systems and Technology Group begun to offer up technical details behind Cell to others via Power.org, its open hardware initiative. The idea behind the movement, which is still in its early stages, is to encourage more development around IBM Power architecture chips, including Cell and PowerPC, and therefore encourage more companies to use it in their systems.
Mercury Computer Systems, in a statement, did not elaborate on its exact product plans or give details such as when it will deliver computers with Cell built in.