IBM Makes First Cell Processor-Based Computing Systems Available

IBM Unveils First Server Based on Cell Processors

by Anton Shilov
09/12/2006 | 11:26 PM

International Business Machines said Tuesday its computing systems based on the much-discussed Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE) processors are now “generally available”. IBM said that server powered by the chips co-developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba are primarily aimed at medical imaging, aerospace, defense, digital animation, communications as well as oil and gas industries.

 

IBM BladeCenter QS20 is based on two 3.20GHz Cell processors with 512KB cache per Cell BE chip and 256KB cache for every core of the Cell BE central processing unit. The default configuration of the system includes 1GB of memory (512MB per chip), 40GB hard disk drive, dual Gigabit Ethernet as well as 1 or 2 PCI Express Infiniband adapters. IBM recommends using Fedora core 5-based operating systems with the BladeCenter QS20.

Pricing of the BladeCenter QS20 has not been announced.

The IBM BladeCenter QS20 based on Cell BE will be delivered via IBM’s System Cluster 1350. The System Cluster 1350 has established a remarkable reputation in the High Performance Computing community as the flagship Linux cluster offering from IBM and is featured prominently in the latest Top 500 Supercomputers listings. The System Cluster 1350 from IBM offers a wide variety of server, processor, and switching technology choices and is completely warranted by IBM as a single support source.

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.

The Cell microprocessor incorporates one dual-threaded PowerPC core and eight so-called synergistic processing engines (SPEs) intended for floating-point calculations, the most demanding tasks in entertainment, workstation and server systems. The PowerPC core has 32KB L1 cache and 512KB L2 cache, while each of the SPEs have 256KB of cache. The Cell has built-in Rambus XDR memory interface, capable of data rates from 3.20GHz to 8.0GHz. The chip also uses FlexIO processor buses that are capable of running at up to 6.40GHz.