Toshiba preps notebook with Cell coprocessor for July


— 2:33 PM on June 23, 2008

Both Nvidia and AMD play up the use of graphics processors for general-purpose computing tasks. Toshiba also likes the idea of a parallel coprocessor, but it will go about the implementation somewhat differently in its upcoming Qosimo G50 and F40 notebooks.

As PC World reports, both systems will include a SpursEngine SE1000 coprocessor based on the Cell Broadband Engine architecture. The chip combines a PowerPC core with four Synergistic Processing Elements, three fewer than in the PlayStation 3's Cell chip. According to this Toshiba press release, the SpursEngine will also run at less than half the speed (1.5GHz) with power consumption of 10-20W.

Toshiba has thought up plenty of uses for the SpursEngine, including video processing tasks like upscaling and transcoding, not to mention a control scheme that will capture hand gestures using a notebook's built-in camera. And that's not all. PC World explains:

A novel feature is face navigation. Faces that appear in video are recognized and displayed as thumbnail images to create a visual index to the video. Users can find the person or scene they want by glancing at the thumbnails and then click on the respective one to watch that portion of video. The computer can also divide up the scenes in user-shot video so they can be viewed one-by-one and analyze and display the volume or the clip across its entire length so, for example, excitement in a sports event can be more easily found.

The Spurs Engine-powered Qosmio G50 and F40 laptops will go on sale in Japan next month. The G50 will have an 18.4" display, 500GB hard drive, dual digital TV tuners, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. It will weigh 10.8 lbs (4.9 kg), and its battery will last around four hours. Pricing will start at ¥290,000 ($2,700) for the G50 and ¥250,000 ($2,300) for the cheaper F40, which will have a 15" display and 250GB hard drive.

Somewhat puzzlingly, the Qosmio G50 will include a GeForce 9600M graphics processor. Unless the aforementioned apps require some particular SpursEngine features, Toshiba could have used CUDA and the GeForce to accelerate them. Doing so would have allowed Toshiba to scrap the extra chip and produce lighter, cooler-running systems with longer battery life.

   
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