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Welcome to the PS3 Data Center

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Computerworld has done a nice job of encapsulating a corporate IT trend we’ve been writing about for the last couple of months with our focus on accelerator chips — among them graphics processors from Nvidia or AMD and Cell (which was designed originally for the PlayStation 3) from IBM — moving into the enterprise. To sum it up, the x86 processor, the workhorse of corporate computing, can do a lot, but accelerators such as Cell or GPUs can do some things better and faster, such as Monte Carlo simulations on Wall Street or video encoding and decoding.

That’s leading some IT managers to look into hybrid machines like the newly launched Roadrunner supercomputer, which uses AMD’s x86 chips and Cell. Hybrid machines won’t take over the data center, but plenty of firms that build high-performance computing systems for enterprises are eying the trend with interest.

The Computerworld article quotes Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, as saying that 40 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies will be using hybrid computers within five years. One challenge will be getting enterprise software ported onto the different chip architecture through efforts like Nvidia’s CUDA or IBM’s software development kits for Cell, but there are plenty of companies working on that problem.

photos courtesy of IBM

10 Responses to “Welcome to the PS3 Data Center”

  1. Jesse Kopelman

    The elephant in the room is Intel’s forthcoming Larrabee, which will be a GPU-style processor that runs x86 instructions. Can these non-x86 solutions gain enough of a foothold that they won’t be displaced by Larrabee? With Larrabee due by 2010, does it make sense to spend a lot of money developing/porting to a non-x86 platform?