February 8, 2006

IBM Launches New Business Computers Based on Game Chip

SAN FRANCISCO -- IBM, the world's largest maker of business computers, on Wednesday introduced new computing systems that it said extend the processing power of video-game microchips to corporate data centers.

The systems will open up new capabilities for businesses in the medical and military sectors, for example, as companies seek ways to use increasingly demanding and graphics-intensive computer applications, IBM said.

Driving the systems is the so-called Cell processor, developed by IBM, Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp.  for gaming consoles including Sony's PlayStation 3, scheduled for release later this year. IBM is now installing the Cell in its "BladeCenter" computer servers, a compact way of building large data centers that run corporate networks.

International Business Machines Corp. of Armonk, New York, said the Cell-based network servers are aimed at extending the company's leading position in the corporate computing market.

IBM had 32.3 percent of the worldwide server market in the third quarter and grew its revenue in that business by 10 percent from the year-earlier period, according to market researcher IDC.

IBM increased sales of blade servers 70 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, said Douglas Balog, vice president of IBM's BladeCenter business.

"We see a commercial application for that Cell processor" in corporate data centers, Balog told Reuters. "Several customers approached us to take advantage of this highly graphics-intensive engine, which can render whole cities and landscapes on the fly."

The Cell chip already has found some uses beyond gaming, but the technology being introduced on Wednesday is meant to broaden the potential applications and customers, Balog said. IBM in June agreed to license the Cell processor to military equipment maker Mercury Computer Systems Inc.

The new systems, called BladeCenter H, allow businesses to move 10 times the amount of data across their networks compared with existing systems, Balog said.

A blade is a thin computer system that can be quickly inserted and removed in a BladeCenter, a specially designed chassis in a corporate data center.

IBM on Wednesday also introduced a blade server computer with chips using dual-core technology, which lets users tackle multiple, intensive computing tasks simultaneously.

The server, called the BladeCenter JS21, also has built-in virtualization technology that allows corporate customers to add or partition massive amounts of computing, storage or networking capacity with a few flicks of a switch.


On the Net: