TOKYO (Reuters) - IBM, Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. on Monday unveiled some key details on the powerful new "Cell" processor the three are jointly producing to run next-generation computers, game consoles and TVs.

Cloaked in secrecy and the object of much speculation since the three conglomerates announced the project in 2001, Cell will be 10 times more powerful than conventional chips and able to shepherd large chunks of data over broadband networks.

In a joint release, the three firms gave a glimpse of their respective plans for Cell-powered products, but were mum on technical details, which will be revealed Feb. 6-10 at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

IBM (Research), Sony (Research) and Toshiba are investing billions of dollars to develop and prepare for mass production of Cell, which is a multicore semiconductor composed of several processors that work together to handle multiple tasks at the same time.

"In the future, all forms of digital content will be converged and fused onto the broadband network," Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president and COO of Sony, said in the release. "Current PC architecture is nearing its limits."

IBM said it would start pilot production of the microprocessor at its plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., in the first half of 2005. It will use advanced 300 millimeter silicon wafers, which yield more chips per wafer than the 200 mm kind.

It also announced plans to first use the chip in a workstation it is developing with Sony, targeting the digital content and entertainment industries.

Sony said it would launch home servers and high-definition televisions powered by Cell in 2006, and reiterated plans to use the microchip to power the next-generation PlayStation game console, a working version of which will be unveiled in May.

Toshiba said it planned to launch a high-definition TV using Cell in 2006.


D, world destruction
Over and overture
N, do I need
Apostrophe T, need this torture?-They Might Be Giants