Sony has developed a prototype computer board based on the Cell processor, the same high-power chip used in the PlayStation 3 (PS3), and will show it at a conference in the US next week.

The Cell chip is the product of a joint development project by IBM, Sony, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) and Toshiba. Each chip contains a main processor and eight sub-processors to deliver around 230Gflops (floating point operations per second) of power.

The 'Cell Computing Board' prototype, which is small enough to be mounted into a 1U-size server for a 19in rack mount, combines the Cell Broadband Engine microprocessor and RSX graphics processor. This pairing results in a high-power computing platform that goes beyond the power of the Cell chip alone, said Sony. The company did not disclose precise performance data for the board.

It will be unveiled at the SIGGRAPH show that will take place from August 7 to 9 at the San Diego Convention Center. The event is focused on the computer graphics industry and Sony will make a number of related demonstrations, it said. These will include real-time processing of '4K images', which are digital cinema pictures with a resolution of four times that of HDTV, computer graphics rendering and a multi-threaded physics simulation.

Toshiba has already demonstrated Cell-based computing systems for computer graphics work. At last year's Ceatec exhibition in Japan the company showed several development workstations that could handle multiple real-time HDTV streams or motion capture and process in real time.

Looking ahead, both Sony and Toshiba are working on more powerful versions of the chip for use in professional-class computers and smaller, low-power versions for use in consumer electronics devices beyond the PS3 games console.