IBM introduces new hybrid blade

The QS22 uses a mix of cell processors on blade technology to bring high-performance computing to small and medium-sized businesses

IBM has launched a new blade centre for companies looking to do High Performance Computing (HPC).

The QS22, which uses a version of the Cell processor found inside the PlayStation 3, is a relatively low-cost system that is powerful and flexible enough to go into the most advanced applications from the finance market to medical diagnostics.

The IBM QS22 blade has at its heart a new processor, the PowerXCell 8i, which, according to IBM, "offers five times the speed of the original Cell/BE processor". The chip has 16 times more memory than its predecessors, at up to 32GB , and is aimed at much more challenging operations than the previous processor, says IBM.

"These blades have a wide variety of applications from real-time analysts through digital media," said Jim Comfort, IBM's vice president for worldwide application systems. "They are very efficient at digital trans-coding, for example."

As Comfort explained, the key component of the QS22 was the ability for it to run as a standard type of system and then be optimised when used in environments requiring high-compute power. "Intel and AMD are talking about this at some point in the future," Comfort told "But with the QS22 we are doing it now."

Platform Computing, a reseller of HPC systems, has one customer trialling the QS22 for pre- and post-trade analysis, where time-to-results has been cut up to 80 percent, said IBM.

IBM says the QS22 should be available "some time next month", in two models starting at $9,995 (£5,129).

QS22 blade server

The QS22 blade server offers up to 16GB of storage in a hybrid blade that is also a cell processor when necessary