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Throughout the week, the TR editors scour newspapers, blogs, and journals to give readers a quick synopsis of what happened in the previous week in the field of emerging technologies.

The Core of Cell

Multicored is likely the next big buzzword in technology.

Last Monday, the trinity of IBM, Sony and Toshiba finally revealed the details of the Cell Chip, which has several mini-computing engines controlling eight processor units instead of one large processing running the whole show, according to the BBC.

This is big for two reasons.

First, while the Cell won’t tack on much clock speed (it could reach 4 GHz, versus Intel’s top of the line 3.8 GHz), it simultaneously runs ten instruction sequences instead of only two. This means computing flexibility such as juggling a few different operating systems, here. Why do it? Because that’s the kind of multitasking that it’s going to take to run tomorrow’s TVs, game systems, and PCs. Not to mention server systems.

Second, this is the biggest change in processor architecture since the Pentium, and it’s a safe bet that it won’t be compatible with older PCs. That’s a major threat to the fabric of today’s Intel/Microsoft reality. To counter, Intel is promising to unleash its own dual-core chips in this year’s second quarter.

The Cell chips will make their first appearance in HD TVs by year’s end, and then in Sony’s Playstation 3 in 2006.

Stairway to Heaven (Furnished by IKEA)

Someday, there really will be a Planet Starbucks. reports that NASA has rolled out its highly incremental “spiral staircase” plan that begins with ditching the shuttle for a new Crew Exploration Vehicle and ends with a manned flight to Mars after 2020.

The plan, though, won’t be government funded. Instead, it relies heavily on private businesses to design and build the new technology – eventually cumulating in a new “competitive commercial launch industry.”

But why wait for NASA? MSNBC reports that Space entrepreneurs like SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and Virgin Galactic’s Alex Tai have formed the Personal Spaceflight Federation. The group’s first task will be to set up the rules of the road for space tourism, focusing on safety standards and finding a way to work around the U.S.’s technology export restrictions and International Traffic in Arms Regulation.

For those wondering why NASA may look outside its engineers for these long-range plans, the answer lies in the Associated Press report that found mission specialists pouring through plans to insure that the next space shuttle flight comes off without a hitch.

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