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IBM Flashes New Blades

IBM has overhauled its blade server product line, even using technology from the computer gaming industry in an attempt to offer what execs describe as Hollywood in a Box.”

The centerpiece of IBM's offering is a new blade with two nine-way Cell processors, aimed at the entertainment and high performance computing industries. Up to now, Cell processors -- jointly developed by IBM and Sony and used initially in Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 -- were more relevant to acne-ridden teenage gamers than CIOs. Now, IBM is aiming to change all that.

Execs at today’s launch event in New York City said the chips can speed up the algorithms used for visual applications such as animation, medical imaging, and oil and gas research.

At least one user is intrigued. Tom Burns, director of post-production at Toronto-based film company Technicolor will be looking at the new blade. “I could see that the pre-visualization stage, where the director develops the storyboard, could be greatly, greatly speeded up.”

Burns is keen to boost performance, particularly for the time-consuming and CPU-intensive "rendering" process used in animation. “There are a number of places in our business where the increased graphical performance would be marvelous,” he beams.

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