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IBM Cell, IBM Linux?

As most of you will have noticed, Sun kicked off the CMT revolution this week with phsyical availability of its first Niagara processors in the Erie and Ontario machines now expected for December 6th.

On the other hand most people didn't notice a marginally earlier announcement from competitor number two. On November 9th, IBM released a bunch of information on the cell broadband engine. dedicated to the cell broadband engine. Here's the 411 direct from the top of that page:

Cell Broadband Engine technology

The Cell Broadband Engine (CBE) is a breakthrough microprocessor with unique capabilities for applications requiring video, 3D graphics, or high-performance computation for imaging, security, visualization, healthcare, surveillance and more. Based on the Power ArchitectureTM, a choreographed high-bandwidth memory architecture, and multicore technology, the Cell BE has been shown to accelerate some algorithms to many times the speed of a traditional microprocessor.

Cell Broadband Engine (CBE) Software Development Kit Version 1.0 provides everything Cell software developers need to create, build, simulate, and test Cell applications. The SDK enables a cross development environment which is hosted on fedora 4/x86 platforms. It includes not only a cohesive set of development tools but also a simulated environment capable of running the latest Linux kernel with CBE architecture extensions and runtime support. This simulated environment allows Cell programmers to develop and run Cell applications even without the access to a CBE hardware system.

Microsoft isn't in the game yet, IBM is well behind Sun on software and therefore hardware, but all three players are gearing up -and Linux on Cell is easily the biggest thing we've seen from IBM since the PC.

Take a look at what they're offering: none of this stuff really works commercially yet, but it will, and if cell applies to your needs getting ahead of the curve should pay off big time.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.