IBM bolsters blade family with Cell upgrade

IBM will begin selling an upgraded version of its Cell chip-based blade server in October.

IBM has announced an upgraded version of its blade server based on the Cell processor, adding memory and data throughput for better performance on high-end applications such as graphics and finance.

IBM also shaved the size of the server, so users can fit 14 of the new IBM BladeCentre QS21s into each chassis, compared to seven units of its predecessor, the QS20. The new version could also function in a diverse blade environment, working alongside computers based on the x86 or PowerPC chip architecture to assign workloads to the most efficient platform, product line manager for Cell systems at IBM, Paula Richards, said.

"We're seeing many applications where users want to actually marry a quad-core Intel or AMD blade with a Cell blade, so they can use the standard blade for basic workloads, then push their mission-critical, exotic applications off to the Cell platform," Richards said.

IBM will begin selling the QS21 in October to users in industries that need to run visual computing tasks such as 3D rendering and time-critical jobs like compression and encryption. The system relies on the Cell Broadband Engine processor, created for Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3 gaming system by the consortium of IBM, Sony and Toshiba.

The QS21 features two 3.2GHz Cell processors, dual Gigabit Ethernet networking and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 5.1 OS. At its maximum density in high-performance computing clusters, the system can run as fast as 6.4 tera floating point operations per second (TFLOPS) in a BladeCentre H chassis, or 25.8 TFLOPS in a 42U rack.

"We're not trying to be a general purpose platform here. If you want to run your monthly statements or ERP, that's not what this is about," Richards said. "This is for time-critical, highly intense workloads such as financial applications, digital video surveillance, medical imaging or even digital media and entertainment. Jobs where time is money."

The product will supplement IBM's lineup of blade servers, which also includes products running on IBM's PowerPC chips, Intel's Xeon or Core 2 Duo chips, and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor.

By upgrading the performance of the Cell version of the BladeCentre, IBM would be able to reach more corners of the highly specialised field of high-performance computing, one analyst said.

Users bought the Xeon and Opteron BladeCentres for general purpose computing, the PowerPC BladeCentre for jobs in a Unix environment and the Cell BladeCentre for compute-intensive applications such as signal processing and image analysis, including designs from Mercury Computer Systems, a military and aerospace industry contractor, Insight 64 analyst, Nathan Brookwood, said.

"They all do different things, so this is a technology update instead of a big change in positioning," Brookwood said.

In concert with the QS21, IBM announced version 3.0 of its software development kit (SDK) for Multicore Acceleration, designed to streamline the process of application development for the new platform. IBM will launch the SDK for Multicore Acceleration on October 19, and launch the QS21 on October 26.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?