INVESTMENT has been secured by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to research the Cell Broadband Engine, a powerful computer chip which is used in the Sony PlayStation 3 and Toshiba notebooks. The research centre will be funded by Sony, Toshiba and IBM (STI), who jointly developed the cell.

While the amount invested in the research has not been revealed, the centre of competence will be located at TCD’s Graphics, Vision and Visualisation (GV2) Research Group and has received additional suport from Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

One of the first projects on the agenda is an invesitgation into how video cameras can be used to control video games. The processor will decode images of game players’ gestures, which could lead to eliminating the need for remote controls.

TCD beat off opposing bids for the research centre from European institutions as the STI Centre of Competence will be only the second STI-backed centre outside of Japan, with the first located at Georgia Tech in the US. The centre will also have a remit to build a community of programmers and will aim to broaden industry support of the Cell Broadband energy in Europe.

The research will be headed by Dr Steven Collins and Dr Michael Manske, who will act as co-directors of the centre. Dr Collins is a founder of Havok, a creator of software tools for game developers. The company grew out of GV2 and was acquired by Intel last year for $110 million. Haptica and Machine Vision Technologies are among other GV2 commerical spin-outs.

The Cell Broadband Engine is one of the most powerful processors in the world as it utilises a unique multi-core architecture. This is used in Sony’s PlayStation 3, Toshiba notebooks and a range of blade servers from IBM.