Leadtek, a leading maker of professional and consumer graphics cards as well as other multimedia products, has quietly introduced a compute card with four Toshiba SpursEngine processors on it. The device is likely to be designed for software developers already familiar with SpursEngine or Cell processors.
Leadtek WinFast HPVC1111 SpursEnginex4 is powered by four Toshiba SpursEngine SE1000 processors with one Power processor element (PPE) and four synergistic processing elements (SPE) per each. The card is equipped with 512MB of XDR DRAM (128MB per processor) and is compatible with PCI Express x4 slot. In total, the HPVC1111 SpursEnginex4 card can boast with four PPEs, sixteen SPEs, four full-HD MPEG-2 encoders and decoders as well as four full-HD H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) encoders and decoders.
Originally, Leadtek positioned its SpursEngine-based devices for people interested in video encoding and upconverting. However, four SpursEngine SE1000 chips point to different usage model. The manufacturer itself mentions a number of fields, including data mining, parallel coding, multimedia production, medical imaging, financial engineering management, high-speed computing, and optimized data analysis as potential applications for the HPVC1111 SpursEnginex4.
Leadtek also claims that the HPVC1111 is world’s first high performance computing (HPC) card with 4 SpursEngine inside. Unfortunately, given the fact that actual computing performance of SpursEngine SE1000 in single precision and double precision operations is unclear, it is not certain whether it makes sense to use the HPVC1111 board for HPC applications.
The original Cell processor - jointly developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba - is now virtually dead since hardly anyone will use it to build supercomputers. Given the fact that SpursEngine SE1000 sports even lower performance and Toshiba is not a company known for supercomputers, it is unlikely that the chip will ever land into the HPC space just like its predecessor.