The Cell Broadband Engine is widely known as a powerful but
rather complex chip to work with. IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT), however, are helping to educate students on the unorthodox
processor with the first program in the U.S. structured around the capabilities
of the Cell Broadband Engine. IBM, Sony, and Toshiba collaborated on helping to
fund the course and Sony group provided the PS3 hardware to be used by
During the four-week course in January, students not only
learned about the new microprocessor, but designed and implemented projects to
run directly on PS3 system using open standards software. The student team with
the best project – a 3D version of the classic pong game – later presented
their work and discussed their experience at the Game Developer Conference in
March 7 2007.
The course, which focused around introducing parallel
programming to students, was taught by Saman Amarasinghe, a professor in MIT's
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr. Rodric
Rabbah of IBM.
“The fact that students – with no background in parallel
programming or the Cell/B.E. – were able to get their projects done from
scratch in just about one month largely goes to show the capability and
determination of our students, coupled with the availability of a robust
toolchain for Cell/B.E. development,” said Amarasinghe.
“Cell/B.E. is going to be an underlying architecture that
has the potential to be included in a wide range of industry applications and
solutions in the future,” said Dr. Rabbah. “This course was able to break down
the details of a highly complex microprocessor and challenge students to see
where the performance, power and versatility could be applied outside of
gaming. Based on the feedback we received from the students, it was a
A Web site
hosted by the Computer Architecture Group at MIT has more information on the
course, including demo source code and video. IBM is also currently hosting the
University Challenge programming contest for students in 25 different
countries, offering cash prizes and awards for the most innovative applications
on the Cell/B.E.
quote: The same way branch prediction is handled on the ARM7 in the Gameboy Advance: you don't.
quote: SPEs are not that deeply pipelined, and fetching is from the on die local store. Something as simple as a branch delay slot and branch hint mechnism would suffice (which the SPE already has if I remember)
quote: Well while they definitely didn't fully utilize the processor it does give the students an introduction to threaded and parallel programming which will be invaluable to them.
quote: A course that teaches students about parallel processing is great but just because they created projects able to run on cell in just a month does it mean that they were utilizing the chip to it's potential.
quote: I think all those developers who are saying, “We don’t want to do a PS3 game,” or “It’s really difficult to do it,” should shut up and make their games. If you have time to complain about it, then you should be spending your time working on getting the most from the hardware.
quote: BM is also currently hosting the Cell University Challenge programming contest for students in 25 different countries, offering cash prizes and awards for the most innovative applications on the Cell/B.E.
quote: I don't see this really helping the PS3
quote: MS really wants the Xbox 360, and Sony really wants the PS3, to succeed beyond the gaming world.
quote: if Sony keeps to this vision the PS3 will over time be bigger than the PS2 could have dreamed.
quote: They are NOT PCs !)have a short life cycle...I can upgrade my PC to adapt for new technologies, but I can't "upgrade my PS2 to a PS3".... I have to buy a NEW Videogame...
quote: When I was in college back in the 80s, everyone where using DEC VAX-11, IBM s370 mainframe, etc. The computer science boys were playing with a new system called Sun Workstations running Solaris on Motorola 68030 processors.
quote: Fast forward 15 years Sun Microsystems were everywhere and you know the history.
quote: quote: Fast forward 15 years Sun Microsystems were everywhere and you know the history.15 years would be about when Sun was in the toilet (2001 or so) and then starting carrying x86 and Linux systems. Really if anything this would suggest that those students didn't much care for Sun. At least not enough to make any of the products they pushed at the time a success.