Cell splinters off from gaming

IBM is bringing its Cell technology used to power Sony’s Playstation to industries including medical imaging, aerospace, defence, digital animation, communications and oil and gas.


IBM is bringing the Cell technology used to power Sony’s Playstation to industries including medical imaging, aerospace, defence, digital animation, communications and oil and gas.



Based on IBM’s Power Architecture, the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE) was originally developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba for use in gaming consoles. It has now been incorporated in the IBM BladeCenter QS20, designed to run graphic-intensive applications. Cell BE uses multi-core architecture and ultra high-speed communications capabilities to deliver rapid real-time response.



The duel chip ‘Cell Blade’ is designed for enterprises with a need for high computing power, accelerating key algorithms like 3D rendering, compression and encryption. It helps companies create and run highly visual, immersive, real-time applications. This could include the digital rendering of animated movies, seismic imaging of oil fields, surveillance of terrain for defence applications and 3D medical image exploration for improved patient diagnosis



Early deployments include the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, University of Manchester, and RapidMind, a Canada-based development platform company which enables software developers to work with high performance processors.



‘We are early adopters of the IBM BladeCenter QS20 because it has the potential to give us significantly improved performance, take up less space, and consume less power,’ said W. T. Hewitt, Director of Research Computing at the University of Manchester. ‘High performance computing systems based on the Cell Broadband Engine have the potential to change the economics associated with supercomputing. We are looking at migrating the range of our scientific applications including bio-informatics, molecular modelling and engineering applications onto the systems to dramatically improve their performance, at the same time as reducing our costs.’