28 April 2007

IBM Says--Hey Babe, Walk on the Wild Side

IBM is building the most powerful supercomputer on earth, called Roadrunner. It is being built at Los Alamos, and you know what that means.

But IBM is using many of the same powerful chips that are going into Roadrunner, to build mainframe servers to use for 3-D virtual environments such as Second Life.
The mainframe is an ideal platform for virtual environments, particularly online gaming, because of its ability to run multiple processors for computing-intensive applications, while also handling millions of simultaneous users, according to IBM. "As online environments increasingly incorporate aspects of virtual reality -- including 3-D graphics and lifelike, meaningful real-time interaction among many simultaneous users -- companies of all types will need a computing platform that can handle a broad spectrum of demanding performance and security requirements," Jim Stallings, general manager for IBM System z, said in a statement.

By running Cell processors, along with up to 336 RISC processors, the mainframe can parcel the workload to deliver higher computing performance for companies building virtual worlds similar to the popular Second Life online videogame. Second Life also has grown into a place for virtual retail stores, and many large corporations, such as IBM, have set up shop there.

IBM's mainframe sales are growing steadily, just when everyone thought the mainframe was dead. But IBM's system Z mainframes are far from dead--particularly at a time when virtual environments such as SL are growing exponentially.

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