Super powerful grid computing is in the firing line as the first ever computing grid to support the online gaming sector goes live.
IBM launched the backbone for what may well be the next-generation internet late last year, setting up a grid computing data centre in Oxford.
Grid computing works on the same principle as distributed computing programs like [email protected], except that enormously powerful data centres are linked up around the globe instead of desktop machines.
In conjunction with Butterfly.net, Big Blue has launched the Butterfly Grid, a veritable Linux-powered behemoth of computing resources for the gaming community.
Two years in the building, the Butterfly Grid is apparently capable of supporting over one million simultaneous players on each individual node, and has no limit to the number of players than can be on the grid in general at any one time.
The grid infrastructure distributes the processing power across a network of server farms.
Historically, online gaming has been hampered as players are segmented onto separate servers, limiting the number that could interact and creating reliability obstacles.
If a server goes down or needs patching, gameplay usually suffers, but Butterfly claims that its second-generation grid technology allows for the seamless addition and removal of servers without affecting gameplay.
The Butterfly Grid allows for a large number of players within one persistent-state world. P>As the vision is to run multiple games across the grid, resources can be redirected to the more popular games or where it is most needed.
Butterfly also has 3D engine support, already giving it sex appeal among the gaming community hungry for more Quake/Half Life/Wolfenstein action.
The timing of the launch is no coincidence, given the recent appearance of the Xbox and GameCube consoles.
Together with the already well accepted PlayStaion 2, the new consoles offer a billion dollar market which IBM and Butterfly hope to surf in on, as internet-ready consoles become a standard feature in homes.
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