Virtual Worlds Get A Power Boost With The "Gameframe"
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Virtual reality is getting a reality check in its need for more computing power.
The "Cell" microprocessor, developed jointly by IBM, Sony, and Toshiba, is about to become core to what we're calling the "Cell Broadband Engine" ("Cell/B.E.") .
The Cell/B.E. will integrate the power of the Cell chip with the security capabilities and unique networking architecture of the System z mainframe to help customers shift demanding 3D Internet applications into overdrive.
The Cell/B.E. project draws on IBM's research, software, and hardware expertise, and is being undertaken in cooperation with Hoplon Entertainment, a Brazilian gaming company which currently hosts its massively popular TaikoDom MMOG on an IBM System z/900 mainframe (Register to read a case study here).
A large game can have a very complex and costly, and often underutilized, infrastructure, with multiple shards running on multiple servers and thus a great deal of redundancy.
Hoplon had originally planned to devote discrete servers to the game's modules, but opted instead for an SOA approach, using the System z/900 which accommodated the game's modular design more seamlessly. It also allowed Hoplon to take full advantage of the System z platform's security, reliability, and high availability.
Building on that success, Hoplon will be able to take advantage of the Cell's distributed processors through the Cell/B.E. project. The Cell chip has a core central processing unit, but also has eight additional "specialty processors" well suited to the transactional processing orientation of mainframes (which can process Linux, Java, and data workloads, as well as encrypt and decrypt data).
This combination allows the Cell/B.E. to handle massive workloads (9,445 business transactions per second, according to a recent banking benchmark), and hence more quickly and smoothly render visually rich (but process-demanding) virtual reality and realtime gaming environments.
And you'll have never seen your avatar move so fast!