Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Computing

STI Center of Competence for the Cell Broadband Engine Processor

Cell Processor

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Programming the Cell Broadband Engine Processor

This page contains resources that are useful for programming the Cell Broadband Engine processor including

Setting up a Virtual Machine with the Cell SDK

The Cell SDK images (distributed through the links below as VMware Appliances) are used to provide a virtual machine which includes Fedore Core Linux, Cell SDK, and Cell IDE. This virtual machine can be installed on either Linux or Windows platforms. The VMware player for both Linux and Windows versions is licensing-free and available from VMware web site. Older SDKs are available here.

The system material is about 4 gigabytes so depending on your internet connection downloading the material can take a long time.

Installing the system takes up to 20 minutes.


  • Installed and working VMWare Player.
  • About 8 gigabytes of free hard drive storage.
  • At least 512 megabytes of system RAM.

Downloading the System

Cell SDK3.0: (last updated: 17 July 2008)

We recommend that you use the Torrent, but also make available zip files for download.

Unpacking the System Image

Unpack parts 1 to 5 of Cell-VMWare zip files

for f in *.zip; do unzip $f; done  

Running the System

Before running the system for the first time you may need to adjust the size of allocated memory for the system. Do this by editing the line memsize = "xxxx" in the configuration file Cell Broadband.vmx. We recommend reserving about half the size of your physical RAM or at least 256.

  1. Start the VMWare Player.
  2. Select the Cell Broadband.vmx image.
  3. Answer all the questions with their default values.
  4. Login with root/inn0vate at the login screen.

VWare Players

Lecture Slides and Hands On Programming Assignments for SDK 3.0

This training material is a proprietary of IBM. The contents of this material is subject to change without notice. IBM is not responsible for the correctness of this material.

Cell Programming Workshop

In 2007 Georgia Tech hosted a one-day IBM Cell Programming Workshop run by Hema Reddy, Cell Solutions Engineer at IBM Cell Ecosystem & Solutions Enablement. The workshop consists of a series of lectures and hands-on exercises in a Cell development environment to familiarize the students with Cell basic programming skills. The workshop materials are available at

Streaming Presentation of the full-day workshop:

About Cell

The Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE) is a heterogeneous chip multiprocessor that consists of an IBM 64-bit Power Architecture core, augmented with eight specialized co-processors based on a novel single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) architecture called Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU), which is for data-intensive processing, like that found in cryptography, media and scientific applications. The first major commercial application of Cell was in Sony's PlayStation 3 game console. For more information on Cell see

Cell Programming API's are available from IBM through this link.

A comprehensive Cell Broadband Engine resource center is located at