The Cell Broadband Engine is a truly versatile piece of
silicon. It’s inside every PlayStation 3 powering games, decoding Blu-ray
movies and curing
diseases with Folding@home.
It’s also inside a few IBM BladeCenter servers, which will soon be utilized for
medical imaging. Collaborators from Mayo Clinic and IBM say that they are now
using the Cell Broadband Engine to dramatically speed up the processing of 3D
The advance significantly aids image registration -- the
computer-enhanced alignment of two medical images in three-dimensional space.
One way medical images are being improved is by using visual images from more
than one source -- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography
(CT) scans for example. With the images properly aligned over one another, a
radiologist can more easily detect structural changes such as the growth or
shrinkage of tumors.
"This alignment of images both improves the accuracy of
interpretation and improves radiologist efficiency, particularly for diseases
like cancer," says Mayo radiology researcher Bradley Erickson, M.D., Ph.D.
Through porting and optimization of Mayo Clinic's Image
Registration Application on the IBM 'Cell Blade,' the application produces
image results fifty times faster than the application running on a traditional
processor configuration. Mayo Clinic and IBM used 98 sets of images and ran the
optimized registration application on the IBM BladeCenter QS20 with the Cell
Broadband Engine, in comparison with running the original application on a
typical processor configuration. The application running on a typical processor
configuration completed the registration of all 98 sets of images in
approximately 7 hours. The team adapted the application optimized for
Cell and completed the registration for all 98 sets of images in just 516
seconds, with no registration taking more than 20 seconds.
"This is all about taking technology innovation,
collaborating with our customers, and applying it to help them directly benefit
their patients," said Shahrokh Daijavad, Next Generation Computing, Systems
& Technology, IBM. "This improvement with the application running on
Cell, will achieve two things -- allow for Mayo's doctors and radiologists to
achieve in seconds what used to take hours, which in turn will significantly
decrease the wait time and anxiety for a patient waiting on news from the
Sony also revealed plans to lease out the computing power of
the Cell Broadband Engine inside PlayStation 3 consoles as part of a supercomputer
quote: Honestly, I know why some people are so vehemently against anything Sony, but face it, Cell is extraordinarily powerful at executing certain types of tasks. How well it executes in a gaming console is an open question, but for image processing, its currently some of the best silicon available on Earth.