View Full Version : IBM shipping cell based blades

09-13-2006, 09:00 PM

IBM has finally, finally, started shipping computers based on the Cell architectured it co-developed with Sony and Toshiba.

In fact, the company claims, a number of high profile clients such as the University of Manchester and the Fraunhofer Institute are already running the much ballyhooed devices.
Sun Microsystems

Big Blue’s first Cell Broadband Engine-based machine is the QS20, which is part of the firm’s BladeCenter family. According to IBM’s data sheets, the QS20 blade features two 3.2GHz BE processors, each of which contains a Power Processing Element (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs).

Each PPE is itself a PowerPC chip, with two-way hardware multithreading, 32Kb of level 1 instruction cache and 32Kb of level 1 data cache. Each SPE consists of a RISC chip with 128-bit SIMD capability and 256KB of local memory.

The blade also carries a 40GB disk, 512KB of level 2 cache per processor, and dual gigabit Ethernet support.

Given the architecture’s focus on high performance and graphics intensive applications, the vendor expects the technology will find its way into the medical industry, aerospace and defense, and oil and gas.

It'll be interesting to see how quickly it moves beyond those markets. IBM neglected to say how much it will be charging for the QS20. Somehow we think that, for now, it'll be in the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" zone.

IBM has since been in touch to tell us that the starting price for a single QS20 will be a mere $18,995. So, still in the "if you have to ask..." category we think. Thanks to those readers who also sent us links to pricing on IBM's website.®

So we can put CELL difficult to manufacture issue to rest, CELL with all the 8 SPE enabled is shipping.. But the price of the blade ouch ouch ouch ouch...

My dreamy stuff, PS3 shipping with two CELL (original 4 CELL was planned). Oh well its just a day dream

09-13-2006, 09:03 PM
Word is each of these blades costs just under $20,000 each, so PS3 is definitely the value there! ;)

09-13-2006, 11:30 PM
Word is each of these blades costs just under $20,000 each, so PS3 is definitely the value there! ;)

Hehe. I remember the story where some college kids put 20+ some odd PS2s together for a DIY supercomputer. I bet a PS3 edition pops up in short fashion. ;)

09-13-2006, 11:45 PM
I hear ya Liver Kick - I'm thinking there are going to be some bootleg PS3 clusters formed out there once/if the Linux support turns out solid. :smoke:

Anyway I'll post what I did at B3D on the matter earlier today here as well, since I think the official release gives us a little more meat than the derivative articles have been doing.

Official Release - http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7BF4272E2B%2D0132%2D495E%2D88A5%2 D0DD1A745A502%7D&siteid=mktw&sid=2595&symb=

... Based on the Power Architecture, the Cell BE was originally developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba for use in gaming consoles. Cell BE's breakthrough multi-core architecture and ultra high-speed communications capabilities deliver vastly improved, real-time response effectively delivering 'supercomputer-like performance' by incorporating IBM's advanced multi-processing technologies usually reserved for the company's most sophisticated servers.
Beta versions of the IBM BladeCenter QS20 are already in use at customer sites across the U.S., as well as in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Japan and Korea.

Early deployments include the University of Manchester, the United Kingdom's largest single-site university, which boasts a research computing division that is among the world leaders -- with the goal to provide world class, leading high performance computational facilities to staff and students at the University. "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, University of Manchester. "High performance computing systems built from blade systems based on the Cell Broadband Engine have the potential to change the economics associated with supercomputing, and thus we are looking at migrating the range of our scientific applications including bio-informatics, molecular modeling and engineering applications onto the systems to dramatically improve their performance, at the same time as reducing our costs."

Another early adopter is RapidMind, Inc., a Waterloo, Canada-based development platform company which enables software developers to quickly and effectively take advantage of a new generation of high performance processors. "The IBM BladeCenter QS20 offers our customers the opportunity to continue to use the simplicity of the RapidMind Development Platform while leveraging the performance of the Cell Broadband Engine," said Ray DePaul, President & CEO of RapidMind Inc. "Application vendors are eager to adopt new innovations that drive performance benefits and the new Cell-based system from IBM is proving to be extremely effective at workloads such as image processing."

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics is a German-based research institution, specializing in providing high performance computing research results in mathematics, material research, and mechanical engineering to industries across the globe. "We are using IBM's new BladeCenter QS20 as an ideal platform to develop software for emerging multicore system, and dramatically improve our own in house visualization applications," said Dr. Franz-Josef Pfreundt, Head of the Competence Center for HPC and Visualization, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics. "The powerful development environment allows for our Institute to run mathematical, medical visualization and GraPA based in-house applications at lightning-fast speed, processing millions of pieces of data in just seconds -- allowing us to process, interpret and deliver research results faster."

The IBM BladeCenter QS20 system will rely on the Cell BE processor to accelerate computationally intense workloads associated other specific industry needs, such as 3D animation rendering, compression, and encryption, and seismic and medical imaging to help companies create and run highly visual, immersive, real-time applications.

Specific examples include:

-- Medical industry: The IBM BladeCenter QS20 can dramatically reduce the
time it takes for physicians to compare and map 3D medical images, which
typically are taken over months or years with different resolutions and
different devices. Running the medical image application on the QS20 can
enable physicians to map multiple images in seconds compared to minutes --
improving accuracy, reducing diagnosis time, and saving patient anxiety.

-- Aerospace & defense industry: Signal processing and radar results in
the aerospace industry are based on combining analysis, location and
terrain with speed and accuracy. Radar application and solutions running
on the IBM BladeCenter QS20 will result in a higher fidelity and higher
resolution of radar output, which means operators will be able to see
objects and information never previously captured through current radar

-- Oil and gas industry: New innovations in seismic imaging are allowing
energy companies to locate and drill for oil more accurately and in less
time -- which can dramatically improve the profitability of new drilling
operations. These compute intensive applications -- ideal for IBM
BladeCenter Q220 -- can also be used to reduce current deep sea drilling
"miss" rates, potentially saving millions in unnecessary costs for drilling

And some additional info from a CNet article today:

...An IBM representative refused to say how much the blades cost, but a customer announcement said they run $18,995 each. The systems, announced Tuesday, are expected to be available Sept. 29, with a $1,950 InfiniBand high-speed network option arriving Oct. 27, IBM said...

09-14-2006, 08:12 PM
dont forget the 144,000 core IBM supercomputor for the DOD

its cell based