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Toshiba demonstrated that its Cell microprocessor, jointly developed with the Sony Group and IBM Corp., can simultaneously decode 48 SDTV format MPEG-2 streams. At the COOL Chips VIII event held in Yokohama from April 20 to 22, 2005, the company showed a film demonstrating the decoding process.

In the film, 48 MPEG-2 streams stored on a HDD were read, decoded and projected onto a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display divided into 8 x 6 cells, each of which showed a different video in each cell. The company expects the technology to be used to display thumbnails for a video list. Of the eight synergistic processor elements (SPE) used in the Cell, six are used for decoding 48 MPEG-2 streams and one is used for scaling the screen. The remaining SPE can be used for a completely different processing function.

In the demonstration, Toshiba used an operating system environment it had developed to increase the efficiency of Cell software development. One of the environment's key features is that application software developers can program software without considering which threads will be allotted to each of the different SPEs, because the environment allows the automatically scheduling software to SPEs.

Hiroki Eda, Nikkei Electronics

Related article: Ken Kutaragi Talks about Cell