The systems are scheduled for availability in the third quarter of this year and test systems will be supplied to a select group of customers in the coming months.
The Cell blades run a special version of the Fedora Linux distribution that is supplemented by IBM patches that users have to download from a University of Barcelona website. Developers also have to specially design their applications for the new server.
Ted Maeurer, senior manager for Cell at IBM, said: "They can run applications that currently run on a 64-bit power architecture, but that does not leverage the power of Cell.
"To leverage the full power of Cell, these applications need to be modified to take advantage of the 'asynergistic' processor elements."
IBM aims the Cell blades at specific niche tasks in parallel computing such as 3D rendering, compression and encryption for the entertainment, medical imaging, aerospace and defence sectors.
The security sector could, for instance, use the chip to analyse recorded telephone conversations looking for specific word combinations. The system could also be used for facial recognition applications in public areas to track criminals.
"If you were building a device that scans faces and then compares those faces with a database, this would be a great processor," said Nathan Brookwood, an industry analyst with Insight 64.
"Developers trying to do those tasks are frustrated because it takes so many processors. The x86 and PowerPC processors just are not really cut out for that kind of parallel computing, whereas the Cell is."
"You won't see a Cell server. You'll see a blade centre that has some x86 blades in it, and they will have a few Cell blades to handle the number crunching that is best done using a Cell," Brookwood told vnunet.com.
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