Trinity College to spearhead research into PS3’s Cell Broadband Engine

14 Jan 2009

Four major Japanese technology giants, including Sony and Toshiba, have revealed they have chosen Ireland as the location for some cutting-edge R&D projects.

As part of a joint initiative between Sony, Toshiba and IBM, Trinity College, Dublin has been chosen as the location for a research centre into the Cell Broadband Engine, the powerful chip at the heart of the Sony Playstation 3.

The centre will be located at Trinity’s Graphics, Vision and Visualisation (GV2) Research Group, which is funded by IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

The Cell Broadband Engine is amongst the most powerful processors in the world, as it deploys a unique multi-core architecture. As well as powering the Playstation 3 it is used in high-end Toshiba notebooks and a new range of blade servers for IBM.

In another investment, Alps Electric in Cork has unveiled an R&D project that involves the establishment of a design team to introduce new technology into the European automotive market and position it as a market leader in terms of safety and driver interface.

It will build significant technical capability and knowledge within the Irish operation and strengthen its position within the Alps group.

Shimadzu, a manufacturer of precision instruments, is collaborating with The Applied Optics Group in NUI Galway in the area of imaging techniques.

The Applied Optics Group leads in the field of novel imaging techniques and has a number of patents in this area. The Applied Optics Group is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

“The size of this trade mission, the diversity of industry sectors represented and the Irish companies taking part all testify to the eagerness and commitment of Irish companies to develop deeper relationships with Japan, a key player in the world economy,” said  The Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD.

“It also signals Ireland’s intent to the international scientific community and knowledge-based industry that Ireland is very much open for business.”

During the trade mission, Cowen announced that over €46m in new business was also secured by Irish export firms.

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan revealed that Japan is the second biggest market in the world, but it accounts for only 1pc of Ireland’s indigenous exports.

“Japan is therefore one of the key, high-growth markets identified in our current three-year strategy,” he said.

Glen Dimplex, Parc Aviation, Eirgen, Botany Weavers, Aviation Services and Direct Personnel were amongst those that announced new export sales while Cork company, Firecomms, secured investment by Alps Electric Ltd – a leading global manufacturer of electronic devices. Firecomms develops high-speed plastic optical fibre transceivers.

“It is testament to the strength of the R&D sector in Ireland that companies such as Sony and IBM chose Ireland as the location for such R&D projects,” IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’ Leary said.

“The expansion in operations by companies such Trend and Gala is a vote of confidence in Ireland as a prime location for European HQ operations for Asian companies. As a result of this mission I look forward to welcoming further Japanese investment to Ireland in the future.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years