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Evaluate the Cell CPU for data visualisation apps

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US-based Mercury Computer Systems (MCS) has begun shipping a technology evaluation system centred on Sony, Toshiba and IBM's Cell processor - the heart of the PlayStation 3.

Not that MCS is pitching the rig at games developers. Its Cell Technology Evaluation System (CTES) is aimed at companies keen to test Cell's suitability for future data visualisation systems - one of MCS' specialisms. (Well, gaming is sort of like data visualisation, we suppose...)

Another is servers - the company unveiled a Cell-based blade server, Turismo, back in November 2005, though the system isn't expected to ship in any significant volumes for at least a year from now.

MCS' Cell evaluation machine is based on Turismo's blades running Terra Soft Solutions' Y-HPC Linux for Cell. Cell-optimised Scientific Algorithm Library (SAL), Trace Analysis Tool and Library (TATL), Parallel Acceleration System (PAS) libraries and tools from MCS and IBM are included, too. And MCS' MultiCore Framework code "optimises data movement within the Cell".

One or two of the Cell blades are installed in the 7U machine, which also contains either a single-chip Xeon board, or two CPU Power-based cards, two Gigabit Ethernet switches and its own 2000W power supply to keep everything ticking over. The Xeon and Power boards both run Linux, too.

The Cell blades contain two 64-bit Cell chips, each with 512KB of L2 cache, a clock speed of 3GHz and an external memory buffer of 512MB of dual-channel Rambus XDR SDRAM.

MCS didn't say how much the CTES costs, but since it's intended for developers working in "medical imaging, industrial inspection, aerospace and defense, seismic processing, and telecommunications" industries - all well-funded areas - don't expect it to come cheap... ®

Mercury Cell Technology Evaluation System

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