Cell Chip Based Television Shown By Toshiba

Toshiba have innovated a television that puts the manufacturer in a league of their own.  The Cell Regza TV is the first of its kind, based on the Cell multimedia processor.  This is the same processor used by the PlayStation 3, and its speed and memory allow the Cell Regza to offer some exciting new features – for example, the capability to record from eight high-definition channels at the same time.

More than four years of development and research has gone into this product.  The idea of using a Cell processor, or any similarly-capable processor, in a television set has not even reached the pitch sessions for any other company.  Toshiba hopes to pull ahead of its stiff competition with their unique innovation, and the advanced functions it will make possible to its consumers.

The Cell Regza will hit the Japanese market in early December, with an ambitious price tag of one million yen, which translates to about $11,175.  Once the 55-inch TV launches, Toshiba projects the sale of about a thousand units a month.  US markets will receive the Cell Regza in 2010, followed by a release in Europe; beyond those two markets, no other international release plans have been publicized.

Toshiba worked in concert with Sony and IBM to develop the Cell chip, which contains eight co-processors around a single Power PC core.  Large-scale processing is extremely simple and quick for this collection of components, over 140 times the arithmetic processing capacity of Toshiba’s TVs currently on the market.

The hard disc drive for the Cell chip has three terabytes of memory.  2TB of that can be used to record 26 continuous hours of programming, from eight hi-def channels simultaneously.  If the TV owner is more selective in recording, of course, the library of programs grows significantly.  If it is only set to record prime time shows, for example, there is storage space enough for a week’s worth of recording.  The third TB of memory can record selected programs and hold the memory for a longer period than is allowed by the simultaneous recording function.

Why eight channels?  Metropolitan areas of Japan receive eight main television stations.

Simultaneous recording is not the only new trick offered by the Cell Regza.  Not only can it record eight channels, it can actually display eight channels on the screen at the same time.  With eight TV tuners running a different station, viewers can scroll through digital channels without the delay most digital sets are prone to.

The TV comes with an external box, about the size of an early Blu-Ray player, which holds the Cell chip, hard disc, and most of the other processing and intelligence elements of the TV.  Some of the innovations of the Cell Regza is projected, in the future, to be available in smaller TVs yet in development.

Toshiba will first show off its new television at Cetatec, the biggest electronics expo in Japan.  The company will also use its time at the Tokyo show to discuss its future plans for Cell chip technology.  A three-dimensional Cell chip powered TV is in development, as well as a television with a 4k by 2k screen.  That TV will quadruple the pixels available in the current generation of high definition TVs.

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