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IBM Entertainment Games Hardware

IBM Adds Videogame Console Chips to Mainframes 103

GoIBMPS3 writes "Soon the powerful 'Cell' microprocessor that fuels Sony's PlayStation 3 console will be available in IBM mainframe computers. The intent is to allow high-performance machines to run complex online games and virtual worlds. 'The integration initially will be accomplished by networking the mainframe with IBM's Cell blades, but eventually the Cells will be plugged more directly into the mainframes via PCI adapter cards, IBM said. It's the latest twist in IBM's years-long effort to keep mainframes not only relevant but also cutting-edge. IBM is touting the partnership as an example of hybrid computing--a trend sweeping the high-performance computing industry as companies augment general-purpose servers with special-purpose chips that to accelerate particular tasks.'"
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IBM Adds Videogame Console Chips to Mainframes

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  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:55PM (#18887933) Homepage
    Some venerable BOFH episodes come to mind (though there it was VAX, not a mainframe).
  • PCI? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#18887981)
    They're going to plug in Cell CPUs into the mainframe via just plain PCI? Don't they mean PCI-X or PCI-E? I'd think using a Hypertransport bus would be perfect for co-processors, too.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:09PM (#18888159) Journal
    IBM Adds Videogame Console Chips to Mainframes

    The Cell is no more a console chip than the x86 (used in XBox) or the PowerPC (used in the 360). Yes, it is used in a console, but I hate to see such a powerful chip "type-cast" to the console. I'm glad IBM is cutting the Cell loose by actually using it for something other than console gaming. However, I wish they would have used a better example than "Virtual Worlds" for its uses. Something like Medical Imaging, 3D Rendering or even Weather Forecasting would have been so much better towards breaking the Cell from its gaming niche.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:13PM (#18888247) Journal
    That was my first thought too. Then I actually bothered to read the fricken' synopsis and realized that this was IBM's actual spin on it, and they were touting the cell-on-mainframe thing as a server for virtual worlds. It's still kind of a dumb spin, obviously geared for non technical types who may be decision makers on large MMORPG projects. IBM's thinking is probably that they will associate the cell processor with games and therefore feel it would be a good thing to use in running an MMORPG. Which it probably will be, as an MMORPG server is inherently a massively parallel application.
  • by Rev Jim (AKA Metal F ( 1004571 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:21PM (#18888371)
    So now that IBM plans to use the same cell processors found in the ps3 what effect will it have on manufacturing costs or even supply issues? Anyone? It sounds like good news for Sony at least PR wise. ANd if it drives costs down, even better news for them.
  • PCI Card with a Cell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:21PM (#18888375) Journal
    What I want: a hobbyist card with a Cell chip to do hobbyist things on. There is a company that makes a dual-cell card ... for $8000, 'coming soon'. Anyone know of a cheaper way to get into Cell, besides Playstation?

    I would think there would be a healthy market for a 'cell accelerator card', especially in the world I come from (Modeling and Simulation)...
  • by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:59PM (#18889061)
    Very amusing, but seriously - when will low-end Cell CPU-powered boxes arrive? I'm thinking of the ProLiant / PowerEdge type servers, 1-6U commodity servers of the sort I'm planning to install in the new rack in my bedr^h^h^h E_TOO_MUCH_INFORMATION

    (Come to that, what about middling-high end workstations of the sort most of us probably spend most of our day? I've the germ of a nice computer collection here, with a 68000, a Z80, various Pentium "0" and upwards intel boxes and couple of Sparc machines. Not enough architectures!! I won't be happy until I have one example of every compile target in the Perl makefile :)

  • by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#18890411)

    The best hobbyist platform is definitely the PS3. Linux runs great on it and HDMI->DVI adaptors let you use it with a DVI monitor (we run them at 1920x1600 on Dell 24" LCDs). As long as PS3s are in the $500-600 price range, there's no real incentive for another low-cost Cell platform. Of course, access to the graphics pipeline is limited, but the SPUs are much easier to program and more flexible than GPUs for general purpose computation.

    If you do bite the bullet and go with a PS3, we've developed a Python library -- CorePy [] -- for programming the SPUs (and PPU) directly. It replaces assembly/intrinsics with Python function calls and provides components for building and optimzing SPU programs. It takes the sting out of using the C-based tools and gives you more flexibility with how you use the SPUs.


  • Marketing Cell Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @04:53PM (#18890921) Homepage Journal

    The intent is to allow high-performance machines to run complex online games and virtual worlds.

    The intent is to make the high-end Cells (with all 8 SPEs working) cheap by selling millions of PS3s with lower-grade (6 SPEs) Cells, a scale economy that big machines ("mainframes") couldn't achieve on their own.

    They're not going to be running "games" like VirtuaFighter on mainframes, especially not without the 9x as fast RSX video chip the PS3 includes. But they will be allowing us to run supercomputer-fast Monte Carlo simulations on PS3 under Linux.

    So I guess if their marketdroids keep lying to us about making IBM mainframes into game consoles, it's worth it if they keep delivering the reverse, which is much more interesting.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser