The PlayStation 3 isn't the only product soon to be powered by IBM's Cell processor.

IBM and Mercury Computer Systems announced recently that they had signed a multiyear agreement which will see IBM helping Mercury develop Cell-powered medical and military gear.

Based in Massachusetts, Mercury makes the complex computer systems used in such military products as radar, sonar, and smart weapons, and in such health products as MRI systems and ultrasound devices.

"One reason we chose Cell is that it should reduce costs," said Mercury Chief Executive Jay Bertelli. "Another is it that gives you more computing power in a given amount of space."

Cell is an IBM PowerPC chip and eight other chip cores combined into a single package. The PowerPC core controls the other eight, which can be programmed for various uses. Since it combines eight cores, a company like Mercury can build products for less money, because fewer chips are necessary. Also, a single Cell chip uses up much less space on circuit boards, which means electronic goods can be smaller and more portable.

Mercury's Cell-based products could be out as early as this year.

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