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3 Author(s)
H. Peter Hofstee ; STI Design Center, IBM Systems and Technology Group, USA ; Ashwini K. Nanda ; John J. Ritsko

This special issue of the IBM Journal of Research and Development provides an overview of the Cell Broadband Engine™ (Cell/B.E.) processor, describes its first two implementations, and reports on initial Cell/B.E. processor-based systems from IBM and the first uses of these systems. The Cell/B.E. processor was initially intended for the computer gaming market, and as such, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., has shipped millions of PLAYSTATION®3 systems that use this processor. However, when in March 2007 a program to do protein folding was made available on the PLAYSTATION3 system, within a few days it created the world's largest distributed computer for this application. The Cell/B.E. processor-based system contributed more than twice as much application performance as a vastly larger number of PCs could have delivered. IBM and Mercury Computer Systems, Inc., have begun shipping the first generation of Cell/B.E processor-based blade servers. IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory have announced their goal to jointly build a 1-Petaflops supercomputer based on a variant of the Cell/B.E. processor that provides significant improvement in double-precision floating-point performance. Mentor Graphics Corporation has introduced a Cell/B.E. processor-based solution for semiconductor mask processing for the 45-nm-node semiconductor generation, allowing its customers to replace three racks of conventional processors with half a rack of Cell/B.E. processor-based blades. A large number of universities are joining in research based on, or enabled by, the Cell/B.E. processor. The IBM developerWork® Web site on the Cell/B.E. processor draws a great amount of traffic. An enormous number of articles on the Cell/B.E. processor, systems, and applications have appeared on the Internet and in newspapers. This issue of the Journal is intended to serve as an introduction to the key technical features of the Cell/B.E. processor and early systems and applications b- ased on it.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Journal of Research and Development  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 5 )