Toshiba Spotlights Multimedia Qosmio Notebooks

Toshiba Corp. is showing off several prototype Qosmio notebooks at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan that include a multimedia co-processor, called SpursEngine, based on the Cell Broadband Engine processor core.

Toshiba announced the SpursEngine co-processor on Sept. 20. Based on the same processor core found in Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 game console, the SpursEngine aims to offer better video-processing capabilities for computers and works with high-speed XDR memory from Rambus Inc.

The SpursEngine, which runs at 1.5GHz and consumes from 10 watts to 20 watts, was showcased in three demonstrations at Toshiba's booth. The co-processor does not replace the main processor in the computer, but runs alongside it, using its processing capabilities to boost the computers video-processing ability.

One prototype Qosmio notebook with the SpursEngine offered facial-recognition capabilities that find a user's face, and then allow virtual makeup and different hairstyles to be applied and viewed in three dimensions. A second demonstration used the SpursEngine to search a video, and then break the video clip into scenes based on facial expressions, allowing a user to find a particular scene more easily.

The third prototype system showed off the SpursEngine's video processing capabilities by upscaling a standard definition video to high definition.

The SpursEngine has four cores and is made using a 65-nanometer process.

While Toshiba has yet to finalize plans to commercialize SpursEngine, the demonstrations at Ceatec underscore the progress made by the company during the last year in its efforts to develop a mobile Cell processor. Speaking at Ceatec last year, company executives said a mobile Cell processor for consumer electronics applications, such as video servers, was in development.

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