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Cell Broadband Engine becoming a medical powerhouse
The PS3 wonderchip does more than play games -- it saves lives

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 medical images.

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 doctor."

Sony also revealed plans to lease out the computing power of the Cell Broadband Engine inside PlayStation 3 consoles as part of a supercomputer grid.

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By DingieM on 4/13/2007 10:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the ATI R5xx and nVidia 8800 have better performance for these kind of calculations????

Cell broadband isn't versatile, its only suited for continuous streaming calculations, i.e. not specifically games.

By ADDAvenger on 4/13/2007 11:21:33 AM , Rating: 4
The order of versatility is something like CPU>Cell>GPU. GPUs are extremely good at highly parallel operations, but they can only do certain things. Cell is also built for parallelization, but it is a bit more general purpose, so it doesn't do some things as well as GPUs, but it can do other things better than a normal CPU that GPUs can't do at all. And of course a normal CPU is the most versatile of them all, though it doesn't specifically shine in any one area.

By saratoga on 4/14/2007 2:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the ATI R5xx and nVidia 8800 have better performance for these kind of calculations????

For some problems, maybe. You'd not be able to do everything on a GPU though, so you'd still want a Cell style processor or DSP for other things. In which case, you're probably better using Cell for everything.

Cell broadband isn't versatile, its only suited for continuous streaming calculations,

Medical image processing is the quintessential streaming data problem. You literally do the same thing over and over and over again billions or trillions of time with perfect predictability. This is the problem Cell is designed to solve.

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