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Cell-powered mainframes to create virtual world apps

Posted: 30 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mainframe? Cell Broadband Engine? virtual world applications?

IBM announced a cross-company project to integrate the Cell Broadband Engine in the IBM mainframe to create a hybrid designed to handle a new generation of "virtual world" applications, such as the 3D Internet.

The project, in cooperation with Brazilian online game company Hoplon Infotainment, intends to create an environment that can seamlessly run demanding simulationssuch as massive online virtual reality environments; 3D applications for mapping, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management; 3D virtual stores and meeting rooms; collaboration environments; and new types of data repositories.

"As online environments increasingly incorporate aspects of virtual realityincluding 3D graphics and lifelike, meaningful real-time interaction among many simultaneous userscompanies of all types will need a computing platform that can handle a broad spectrum of demanding performance and security requirements," Jim Stallings, general manager for IBM System z.

IBM and Hoplon are porting Hoplon software to the Cell processor to handle message passing and physics simulation. The companies have also created a programming model and messaging architecture that separates the application running on the system.

The mainframe will run administrative tasks for middleware and applications and handle logistics and connectivity to third parties as well as to multiple clients. The mainframe will run incorporate Hoplon's bitVerse middleware, under development using WebSphere XD as the underlying runtime environment, along with DB2. Meanwhile, the Cell processor will handle complex simulation associated with operating in virtual worlds.

Compared to other servers, mainframe was designed to incorporate processors that handle a variety of specialized tasks. It includes up to 336 RISC processors to assist I/O, which will help the system to integrate seamlessly with the Cell processor. The mainframe is toted to be the ideal platform for large virtual worlds, which often require a technology platform that can handle many simultaneous transactions spread out among several hundred servers.




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