The co-developers of the Cell processor - IBM, Sony and Toshiba – are making the specifications for the chip available for free in a bid to encourage open source developers to use the Cell.

IBM Cell team leader Jim Kahle told EE Times: "Our intention is to open up the Cell software architecture. The idea is to get the industry to help us evolve the basic software layers."

The EE Times report suggests that amid job losses IBM is keen to keep its workers busy: and if more devices use the Cell more people at IBM keep their jobs.

Library card
The Cell specification could be released to software developers by the end of May. There are also plans to release open-source software libraries for Cell by the autumn although it is not clear whether these will be free. Kahle said: "We're not yet sure about the right licensing terms for the libraries. It can be hard to give stuff away for free."

The Register suggests that since IBM is Apple's primary source of CPUs, Apple may be attracted to the proposition. Reporter Andrew Orlowski writes: "Open specifications will permit Apple to develop for the Cell without a potentially costly licensing agreement."

In February Merrill Lynch analysts predicted that Apple might use the Cell processor, saying that: "If it happened, such a move would put Apple at the heart of the HD and digital consumer revolution".

The Cell processor is to be used in the recently unveiled PlayStation 3, due to ship next year. The long-awaited games console "runs on a computer brain 35 times more powerful than anything now on the market", says the Telegraph. Sony claims the chip is twice as fast as the chip used to power the rival Xbox 360.