IBM will build mainframes to support virtual worlds.
In concert with Brazilian game developer Hoplon, IBM will use the PlayStation3’s ultra-high-powered Cell processor to create a mainframe architecture that will provide the security, scalability and speed that are currently lacking in 3D environments — a lack that is one of the factors keeping them from becoming widely adopted.
While it probably won’t have much impact on the state of virtual worlds right off, IBM’s new infrastructure could make a big difference in the long run, by enabling much greater numbers of concurrent users in next-gen virtual worlds, and by creating more secure possibilities for commerce.
“It’s a new era. It’s the era of application-specific computing,” said Bernard Meyerson, chief technologist of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group.
There are already massively multiplayer games that support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous players, but the IBM system will add an unparalleled level of realism to visual interactions, Meyerson said.
“I had the chance to talk to David Gelardi, IBM’s vice president of industry solutions, who is heading up the effort.
“I would argue that the world doesn’t yet understand the promise of [virtual world] technology,” Gelardi said. “We see this technology moving into banking and retail and anything where the consumer is involved in a transaction of commerce that they would today do over the Web, online shopping, online banking. The problem is that rendering is kind of weak. We haven’t figured out how to accelerate that yet, and how to marry that to transactions.”
From a press release I can’t find but is at the above 3pointd post:
“IBM intends to create an environment that can seamlessly run demanding simulations — such as massive online virtual reality environments, 3D applications for mapping, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management, 3D virtual stores and meeting rooms, collaboration environments and new types of data repositories. It plans to achieve this goal by parceling the workload between the mainframe and the Cell processor”
“The way to think about it is just look at the way the Web has evolved over time,” Gelardi said. “More banking is done online. More shopping and people’s hobbies are online. In that context, the next step is to offer 3-D capabilities, and what we are doing is starting with online gaming and then moving into a Web-based commercial world.”