The Cell Processor in the PS3 has certainly received a lot of attention, but now we are finally seeing some products being introduced that are based on the same technology of the Cell.  The Toshiba SpursEngine is a derivation of the Cell, but it does not encompass any of the PowerPC portions.  Instead it is a chip that is designed around the SPE units that are found in Cell.  Toshiba is aiming this part at realtime video encoding and decoding, as well as upconverting video in real time.

The first iteration of the SpursEngine is the “SpursEngine SE1000”.  This chip features 4 of the SPE units, a 32 bit controller for allowing data communication between the host processor and the chip through the PCI-E bus, and an onboard memory controller that is based on the RAMBUS XDR memory technology.  The chip runs at an impressive 1.5 GHz and features around 12.8 GB/sec of bandwidth to its local memory.  The first cards feature 128 MB of XDR memory.  The chip has a theoretical performance of around 48 GFLOPs, which is obviously nothing to sneeze at.

Toshiba Shows off its SpursEngine - Graphics Cards  1

Leadtek’s card doesn’t look like much, but it doesn’t really have to look good to impress.  This low power and quiet card could be the answer to video enthusiasts looking for a more muscular and flexible approach to video playback.

When running a transcode operation on high definition video against a machine that was running a 3.0 GHz Core 2 Quad, the SpursEngine based card finished in about 1/2 the time.  Each chip consumes between 10 and 20 watts of power, and the full card should be less than 30 watts in total.

The first products will be found integrated into some of Toshiba’s laptops, as well as some limited desktop SKUs.  Leadtek will be one of the first offering this card as a standalone product to end users.  So far it looks as if first support will come from Cyberlink and WinDVD.