Toshiba unveils "SpursEngine" stream processor derived from Cell/B.E.

Discussion in 'CellPerformance@B3D' started by one, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. patsu

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    It's probably an experiment to test market and help push their SpursEngine (since high end laptops may have enough margin to play). Toshiba has been talking about intelligent TV for a few years now (e.g., TV with video conferencing and other media apps). I don't know if they will add a CPU to their TVs someday; but if they do, all these CPU + SpursEngine exercises will help them get there one day. The SpursEngine is already used in their TVs for upscaling today.
     
  2. Shifty Geezer

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    I dare say the economics are there. Toshiba haven't thrown Cell into all their devices, instead sticking to what makes sense. If the alternatives were as effective, why would Toshiba have a change of heart and put in a mostly redundant processor? We know SPUs are more effective than GPUs at some tasks - GPUs just aren't flexible enough to do everything yet. eg. Video transcoding has not seen the ebenfits from GPUs that we might have hoped for. I can well believe that SPURSengine offers the most efficient, cost and power-consumption-wise, general purpose high-performance accelerator. I don't see anything in Toshiba's actions to suggest lack of caution or a willingness to use redundant silicon where not needed, hence no Cell-TVs before they had a purpose for them.
     
  3. rpg.314

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    Well, wouldn't cell be good enough for these (non laptop) purposes? I mean why bother with designing a niche chip when cell can do it well enough. And given cell's volumes, it would be cheap enough to put in high end TV's atleast by now.
    May be, But a video specific one.
     
  4. patsu

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    If Toshiba can make it even cheaper, they will do so. Hardware guys usually nickel and dime their BOM cost. They will save millions if the volume is big, like for CE use. The SpursEngine is about 30% smaller (compared to regular SPEs), runs at a lower frequency and consumes 10-20W. OTOH, the PPU is not a fast CPU if they don't use the vector engine. May be Toshiba can pick a more suitable CPU to power SpursEngine for their app (cost/performance wise) ?

    Not necessarily. The algorithm doesn't see the video (It's just data !). Anything that suits the performance characteristics and profile should fly.
     
  5. Karoshi

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    When do the OpenCL drivers come out?
     
  6. patsu

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  7. rpg.314

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    From the spe POV, yes. It's just that I had mpeg2, h.264 decode/encode cores on spurs engine in mind when I said it.
     
  8. rpg.314

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    This is cool. But prolly superfluous as I am 100% sure that IBM will release an opencl implementation for cell this year itself.
     
  9. patsu

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    When/if IBM releases an OpenCL implementation, they will need the open source community developers to help support it. People like Robbie McMahon, the author of the above OpenCL for PS3, could be a key contributor since he would know the fundamentals inside out.

    According to his blog, Robbie also did some work in MPICH for PS3 (probably for Argonne National Lab or Loyola in Chicago). The PS3 clusters in Dartmouth and North Carolina State U. use MPICH (and OpenMPI v2.5) too. We should be able to see PS3 OpenCL + OpenMPI clusters soon (although admittedly, MPI already abstracts the hardware away; so OpenCL doesn't buy much there -- except to port OpenCL code from elsewhere)
     
  10. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Yes, those are against CPU. My bad for forgetting that very obvious fact! :) I was blending it mentally with some thread in the 3D section that called out some of the GPU-based IQ algorithms as not being 'all that' essentially.

    But to SpursEngine itself, while clearly being dependent on a per (laptop) model basis, strong wattage, die/cost (it is an internally developed chip also which contributes), and profile factors might all play to Spurs in terms of Toshiba's decision making. And though I don't think IQ improvements in Internet video is honestly something that requires extensive benching, we'll just assume that Toshiba out the gate has a better implementation ready to go on Spurs after years of R&D in that arena than it would be able to get going on CUDA with similar results in the near term.

    That said, if it were a laptop with a high-end GPU onboard by default (and that GPU had sufficient profile power throttling/states), then yes I could definitely see where the SpursEngines might be redundant vs a GPU-based IQ solution. But there are the aforementioned quality and thermal qualities attached to this though; I haven't been following the mobile GPU scene recently so I'm not sure where the wattage lies at the moment for the upper end.

    Well, we can only assume though that whatever the costs along the multitude of axis Toshiba must consider, the SpursEngine is the viable choice for the effort. Else they wouldn't be doing it. And what's left to us is just guesswork unfortunately. :)
     
    #110 Carl B, Apr 23, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2009
  11. Enzyme

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    Ok, so we got our hands on a couple of Leadtek cards.
    Got around to trying some of the samples.
    The decoding and encoding seem to work fairly well, although both are limited on input (they only take the standard sample file by default).
    Haven't really benchmarked it, just trying some stuff.

    Documentation isn't as good as I first thought. Especially not for the face recognition library.

    Isn't there anyone else working on Spurs?
    I've spent hours searching the net, and I only found about one topic on some forum and maybe 2 or 3 Japanese sites which have something on it regarding code.
     
  12. patsu

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    I don't have one, but what face recognition library are they using ? Something from open source ?
     
  13. Enzyme

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    Nope, something Toshiba made themselves I believe.
    They use something they call the CANDI api, which stands for Codec AND Indexing.

    Both the codec and the face recognition use this same api.
     
  14. patsu

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    Some details on CANDI and CRI Middleware:
    http://hdpro.jp/interview/index_080718en.html

     
  15. Enzyme

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    Yeah, I've read those.
    The thing is, they all seem to do something with the codec part, but not with the face recognition.

    I downloaded the SpursCoder, but it's just an executable and a library, no code though (at least for the free personal version). And the documentation is in Japanese, not my strongest language. :razz:
     
  16. patsu

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    Did you check with the guys who did face recognition on the full Cell ? May be their work can be ported to SpursEngine ? (albeit at approximately half the performance).
     
  17. Enzyme

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    I'm not really looking for face detection on Cell, I'm looking for some information on how the API works. The middleware should take care of all the SPE stuff, I'm just trying to write a host application.
    The documentation doesn't help me all that much (it may be just me ofcourse).

    I did get some steps further though, by trial and error reasoning.
     
  18. patsu

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    Oh god, I hate those type of projects. :(

    All the best !
     
  19. Enzyme

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    Yeah, thanks.

    The included demo's all just work though. So I have my hopes up a bit.
    Need to get a nice demo set up by next Tuesday.
     
  20. thop

    thop Great Member
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