20 Petaflop Bluegene

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Feb 062009

IBM has announced two new BlueGene contracts, with the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). One will be based on BlueGene/P, a system built with lots and lots of PowerPC 450 processors. The second will be “be based on future IBM BlueGene technology”. The Register goes on to speculate about what that might mean…

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Cell PPE Core Reused in Xbox

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Jan 052009

The Wall Street Journal got an advance copy of a book from two IBM employees, in which they talk about reusing part of the Cell processor for Microsoft’s Xbox. Ars Technica has some more technically detailed coverage, explaining that we’re really talking about the PPE (Power Architecture) core inside the Cell processor.

Update: Gamasutra has a good follow-up interview with Dave Shippy, one of the co-authors.

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IBM Acquires Transitive

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Nov 212008

Pretty much every industry news site has written about IBM’s acquisition of Transitive, the company that does cross-architecture dynamic binary translation. IBM had previously teamed up with Transitive, who is also behind Apple’s Rosetta (run PowerPC OS X applications on x86 OS X), to run x86 Linux applications on Linux on IBM’s line of PowerPC servers.

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Terra Soft Solutions Acquired by Fixstars

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Nov 122008

Terra Soft Solutions has been acquired by Fixstars Corporation, a Japanese company that specializes in the Cell processor. TSS’s CEO will become Fixstars’ COO, and Fixstars will continue to develop and support Yellow Dog Linux. Terra Soft has a history of working with the Cell processor, including Sony’s PlayStation 3, IBM’s QS20 family of blades, and Mecury Computer Systems blades and accelerator cards.

Terra Soft was one of the original companies dedicated to PowerPC Linux, espcially on Apple Power Macintosh, but they have shifted their focus to other PowerPC-related areas in the past few years, presumably caused by the decline of PowerPC on the desktop.

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Apple Hires IBM PowerPC Exec; IBM Files Suit

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Oct 302008

Apparently Apple has hired Mark Papermaster, an executive in IBM’s Power Architecure server division. However, almost before anybody could speculate as to why (Xserve? iPhone chip design?), IBM filed a lawsuit against Papermaster to prevent Apple from hiring him. With litigation flying, one can assume that he’s not welcome at IBM any more either.

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High-performance TCP Stack for Cell Processors

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Oct 302008

Express Logic, maker of the well-known ThreadX real time operating system (RTOS), announced that they have customized their NetX TCP stack to run on the Cell “SPE” coprocessor (of which current Cell processors have 8). Sony apparently wanted better performance than they could get from Linux, and the ThreadX stack acheived 8.5 Gbps with 3KB packets. There’s an IEEE “Hot Interconnects” paper on the subject.

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Mercury Announces PA Semi Blade

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Oct 302008

A long time ago now, Apple acquired PA Semi, makers of a high-performance low-power PowerPC chip. After much rumor and speculation, Apple eventually reluctantly agreed to continue to make PA’s 1682M processors available to existing PA Semi customers (a move pressured by the US Department of Defense, since most of PA Semi’s customers were in the defense industry).

After all that, Mercury Computer Systems, who have done plenty of work with the Power Architecture, finally announced their “PowerBlock 50”, which apparently is a ruggedized custom form-factor blade chassis. The PowerBlock 50 can hold a few different types of blades, including an FPGA, a Freescale PowerQUICC III processor, and, you guessed it, a PA6T-1682M.

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Ubuntu on PowerPC Macs

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Oct 302008

An article at iTWire talks about running Ubuntu Linux on old PowerPC Macs (G3, G4, G5). Running Linux is definitely less resource-intensive than the latest versions of Mac OS X, though Ubuntu has actully dropped official PowerPC support. The article discusses Ubuntu options and where to get the “community supported” versions.

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Xilinx Announces Dual-440 FPGA

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Oct 302008

Xilinx has announced its “Virtex-5 FXT FPGA ML510 Embedded Development Platform”, which is an FPGA platform containing two PowerPC 440 hard cores. FPGAs are pretty cool, especially attached to a useful general-purpose processor like the 440, but the 440’s lack of hardware support for SMP coherence means users must be practically forced into running seperate kernel instances on each core. Xilinx announced support for both Linux and VxWorks.

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Freescale Announces Custom SoC Business

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Sep 292008

Freescale has a large number of embedded sytem-on-chip (SoC) processors, with chips currently built around 4 different cores (e200, e300, e500, and e600). However, they’ve now announced that they will also build customer-specific products (CSPs), mixing and matching their own cores and devices as well as integrating custom logic from customers and third parties. Freescale’s move once more positions them against IBM, which in embedded Power Architecture has focused exclusively on CSPs (after selling off its Power “standard products” to AMCC years ago).

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