SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - IBM has agreed to license the Cell processor -- set to drive Sony PlayStations and Toshiba TVs -- to medical and military equipment maker Mercury Computer Systems Inc., in the first deal for the chip beyond consumer electronics.
Mercury, said the company plans to use Cell as the core technology to power a range of "embedded" computers it designs for magnetic resonance image scanners in medicine to missile radar and sonar systems for military uses.
IBM and Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based Mercury said they had agreed to a multiyear deal in which contract engineering teams from IBM will design Cell chips for Mercury computers.
Terms were not disclosed.
International Business Machines Corp. of Armonk, New York is developing the much-anticipated cell chip with Japanese partners Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp.
Sony plans to power use Cell to power its PlayStation 3 video console starting a year from now. Toshiba has said it plans to embed Cell chips in a line of its televisions in 2006.
IBM sees Cell driving devices in a range of industries, including medical, aerospace and automotive technologies.
"We are beginning to expand the adoption of Cell into other industries," said Raj Desai, vice president of IBM engineering and technology services -- the custom chip design unit.
PlayStation 3 is expected to be a huge hit for Sony -- selling 80 million to 100 million new consoles by 2010, according to industry analyst Richard Doherty of Envisioneering Group in Seaford, New York.
Cell is expected to offer breakthrough graphics processing improvements across the growing array of electronics that require heavy image processing, and while some analysts have questioned whether Cell will find much use beyond games, Doherty said IBM could be on to a huge winner
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