With nine processors and 234 million transistors, the Cell is the powerhouse of Sony’s forthcoming PlayStation 3 console. The four-plus-gigahertz (depending on its application) chip calculates an unmatched 256 billion operations per second, making it 35 times as fast as the PS2’s chip. The upshot: Characters react more realistically (like flinching when bullets whiz by). Next year Toshiba will offer an HDTV set that uses the chip to decode high-def signals.