Toshiba Begins to Sample SpursEngine Stream Processors

Toshiba Starts to Ship Quad-Core Chips for Video Processing

by Anton Shilov
04/08/2008 | 08:15 AM

Toshiba Corp., a leading maker of various electronics, on Tuesday said that it had begun shipping of its SpursEngine processors to interested parties. Thanks to four synergetic processing units the new chips can process up to four full-HD videos at a time, which may be a valuable capability for professionals, but may not be used by consumer products.


“We are very pleased to have started sample shipping of SpursEngine. The design of this powerful co-processor is dedicated to bringing the advanced capabilities of the Cell/B.E. to consumer electronics, particularly video processing in digital consumer products. We are sure that SpursEngine will accelerate the market for full-HD applications,” said Yoshio Masubuchi, director of Toshiba’s system LSI division, advanced SoC development center.

SpursEngine is a co-processor that integrates four of Cell high-performance RISC core SPEs, half the number of the full configuration, hardware dedicated to decoding and encoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 video, XDR memory interface as well as PCI Express interface. By combining the high level, real time processing software of the SPEs with the hardware video codecs, the SpursEngine realizes an optimized balance of processing flexibility and low power consumption. The prototype of SpursEngine operates at a clock frequency of 1.5GHz and consumes power at 10W to 20W.

The SpursEngine SE1000 reference board is compliant with PCI Express 1.1 x1 and x4 slots, sports 128MB of 1.6GHz XDR memory and carries SpursEngine processor at unknown clock-speed.

Toshiba’s SpursEngine processor may be used for various products and in various markets. In the computer industry the SpursEngine may be used for video processing, graphics computations, physics computations and various other applications that involve processing of data streams. Potentially, video professionals may find useful to decode or encode four full-HD (1920x1080 with progressive scan, 1080p) streams at once. In the consumer space currently only two full-HD video decoders are required to provide picture-in-picture functionality on Blu-ray and HD DVD players, however, as high-definition television becomes more popular and more channels are broadcasted digitally, four-way video processing may become a necessary feature for advanced HDTVs.

Toshiba will support developers working on SpursEngine applications with a comprehensive reference kit that includes a reference board and essential middleware APIs. Toshiba will also provide an integrated development environment (SPE compiler, SPE debugger, and performance monitor) and sample applications that demonstrate how to use the provided middleware. With the reference kit, customers can quickly and easily construct an evaluation and development environment and accelerate product development, the company said.

Toshiba also indicated that it is developing co-operative relationships with many partner companies in order to develop wide scope video solutions that utilize SpursEngine.

“For example, we are partnering with Corel Corp. whose headquarters are in Canada; and Taiwan based CyberLink Corp. and Leadtek Research Inc. These companies produce popular video and image processing software and hardware such as graphic board, and will together supply to set manufactures. By working together with these companies and creating a new value chain, many end user can enjoy comfortable digital life by using our board and software bundled with SpursEngine,” Toshiba said.