Video game chip to power your enterprise

IBM Corp. said its new BladeCenter QS22 server, which uses processing power originally developed to run video game systems, can work as a powerful and energy efficient piece of an enterprise’s hybrid computing environment.

“The fundamental reason we’re doing this is IBM believes in hybrid computing systems,” Jim Comfort, vice-president of workload optimized systems at the Armonk, NY-based computer giant, said. “You can leave the primary workload on the conventional systems that you are used to and move the intensive computation tasks to this optimized processor and system. The whole idea of BladeCenter is that you can mix and match and tune the system to what combination of processors you need.”

The QS22 uses the new PowerXCell 8i chip, an upgraded version of the Cell processor jointly developed by IBM, Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. The company said the Cell chip has the ability to handle large amounts of floating point calculations and has an expanded memory footprint capable of various computer intensive tasks.

IBM said the upgraded chip has 16 times more memory and is five times faster than its original Cell processor. The new system will garner particular interest, according to Comfort, from enterprises engaging in financial services, seismic exploration, digital content creation, digital video surveillance and medical imaging.

“On the real-time analytics side, it’s really relevant for financial services firms and the calculations being done there,” he said. “For seismic exploration, the need for better imaging of oil fields and to see where you’re drilling is also crucial.” Using the QS22’s power, IBM said, a physician could find and diagnose a tumor in a few seconds, rather than a few hours.

IBM is also releasing a software development kit containing a programming model that can help customers utilize the features of the QS22. “It’s much more flexible than a one size fits all system,” he said.

The QS22 is expected to cost around $10,000, depending on memory requirements.

The built-in IBM Rear Door Heat eXchanger cools data center hot spots and reduces power consumption.

TThe QS22 works along side your standard server, functioning as a big compute box to do high-performance computing tasks.

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