IFA 2008: Toshiba Press Conference

Toshiba's address to the press at IFA was something of a mixed message - Riyad tries to figure it out.

The key to Toshiba’s new image processing and upscaling strategy is the use of the Cell Broadband Engine – the chip that sits at the heart of the PlayStation 3. In case you didn’t know, the Cell chip was developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM. Toshiba was keen to point out that more complex upscaling and image processing algorithms require more processing power, and that’s where the Cell chip comes in.

According to Toshiba the Cell chip will allow up to 48 picture streams to be processed simultaneously, which is pretty damn impressive. However, there was no indication given on what resolution or codec those streams would be delivered in. Toshiba also implied that the Cell chip would allow for far better network integration, which will allow the TV to be a connected, interactive tool, rather than a passive one. Thompson also touched on the idea of using the power of Cell to make YouTube content look good on a TV, although I can’t imagine any amount of scaling making YouTube footage look anything but awful.

To demonstrate how Toshiba’s new upscaling techniques work, a still from an athletics meet was used. Toshiba demonstrated how the picture is analysed and scaled, with resulting jagged edges smoothed out. However, Tosh made a point of saying that areas of no detail, like grass, did not need any processing. This I found particularly strange, since if you’ve ever watched a football match in HD, you’ll know that there’s a significant amount of detail in the grass. This highlights the shortcoming of any upscaling technique, since it can only work with the detail contained in the original source.

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