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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 therealnickdanger on 4/13/2007 11:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
There's a difference between bashing and clarification. If more people understood this, perhaps more people would be able to think and speak logically and avoid responding emotionally to so many things.

If you want to believe that this CBE blade legitimizes Sony's claims of the PS3's power, that's your prerogative, but you should be willing to admit that.


By Transcendental Ego on 4/13/2007 1:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
The question still remains, did it really need clarification?


By therealnickdanger on 4/13/2007 2:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the article did not provide any technical information about the innards of the "IBM BladeCenter QS20 with the Cell Broadband Engine", it merely linked the QS20 to the PS3 based upon similar technology. So I would suggest that it did indeed need more clarification.

Here are the full specs of the base configuration:
http://www-03.ibm.com/technology/splash/qs20/pdf/q...

- Two CBE processors @ 3.2GHz (each composed on one PowerPC 2.02 general purpose dual-threaded PPE with 512KB cache and eight SPEs with 256KB cache each)
- 512MB RAM per CBE processor
- 40GB IDE HDD
- Dual gigabit ethernet
- Fedora Linux


By Carl B on 4/13/2007 2:56:59 PM , Rating: 2
Again, how is that even different?

Like I said - 1 Cell vs 2, and 256MB XDR vs 1GB.

Fedora Linux is running on my PS3 right now, and I've got a 120GB SATA hard drive. Sure only one gigabit ehternet port... but at this poitn aren't you stretching waaaaay too much in order to find points of differentiation?


By deeznuts on 4/13/2007 3:42:01 PM , Rating: 1
But you assumed that nothing was similar except the proc?


RE: CBE blade... quite different than a PS3
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2007 5:13:46 PM , Rating: 1
He is correct. They share the processor. Nothing more.

Now thats not saying the Cell is good for tasks such as this though. But he is right that it should be clear that IBM's blade server has nothing to do with the PS3 other than that they both use the Cell processor. Look at the original Xbox. It used a 700MHz P3/Celeron. Does that mean a 700MHz P3/Celeron system would be capable of playing the games it could? No.


RE: CBE blade... quite different than a PS3
By Carl B on 4/13/2007 6:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
FITCamaro, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

The fact that you're taking this in the direction of gaming shows how off you are. Phrased differently, I have no doubt the PS3 would kick-ass at medical imaging in a clustered environment. This article is about medical imaging, not gaming.

And in terms of the differences between the QS20 and PS3, I don't believe any have been pointed out as yet. Frankly the only fundamental difference (beyond the obvious doubling of processing power and quadrupling of RAM), is that the QS20 is in a blade form-factor that can be readily inorporated into IBMs bladecenter chasis for a heterogenous processing environment.


By FITCamaro on 4/14/2007 9:28:43 AM , Rating: 1
I don't doubt that it would. Would it be as good as a blade server though? I doubt it.

I just don't want to see any Sony adds saying "Hey. The Cell is used in medical imaging. That must mean the PS3 is better than the 360 and Wii as a gaming console. So go buy one. Now. Because Sony said so."


By therealnickdanger on 4/14/2007 12:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, it's not even the same processor, since this version has 8 (8x2=16) functioning SPEs as opposed to the 7 available to the PS3 (in order to improve yields). Looking at the number theoretical crunching strength of the QS20 as opposed to the PS3 puts this even more in perspective, they aren't even in the same league, despite both comtaining Cell.


By masher2 (blog) on 4/14/2007 12:57:13 PM , Rating: 1
> "Technically, it's not even the same processor, since this version has 8 (8x2=16) functioning SPEs "

By this logic, a server with two 4MB cache Xeons is using "totally different" cpus than one with a single 2MB Xeon

They're all still Cells, made with the same design, on the same assembly lines.


By SquidianLoveGod on 4/14/2007 5:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
It was a 733Mhz Pentium 3/Celeron Hybrid not a 700Mhz Processor. - And yes I could play some games that the xbox can.
Like Halo, FarCry (I managed to get FarCry running on a Pentium 3 667, 512Mb of ram, Geforce 4 Ti 4400)
It all comes down to the optimizations that the maker put in place.


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