[sf-lug] Posting and Announcement

Adrien Lamothe alamozzz at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 15 09:57:25 PDT 2006

The "BE" stands for "Broadband Engine", it is just a name, meant to indicate the blazing speed at which the processor operates. The Cell Processor (or Cell Broadband Engine, whichever you prefer) promises to completely revolutionize computing. It is basically an extended Power5 processor, but with higher memory bus bandwidth and nine execution cores:  a central "Power Processor Element" and eight "Synergistic Processor Elements". Linux is being ported to it, and Sun has just agreed to port Solaris to it. The CBE is the processor for Sony's new PlayStation3. According to IBM, the CBE will be used across the full spectrum of computing devices, from mainframes down to cell phones.

My only concerns about the CBE are power consumption and heat generation/dissipation and the associated thermal management requirements. That is what most likely may cause problems.

I too believe Linux has reached a "tipping point" (a currently trendy phrase), and that the IBM CBE will play an important role in Linux adoption. O'Reilly published an article of mine asserting this, you can read it at:  http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2006/03/23/apple_vs_everyone.html

One of my predictions in the article recently came true:  Lenovo is now offering ThinkPads at unbelievably low prices (thanks to the incredibly efficient cost of production in China). You can get a Celeron M ThinkPad for $499, a Pentium M ThinkPad for $679 and a Core Duo Thinkpad for $999 (the latter two with Windows XP Professional). So now Lenovo can compete with Dell on a price basis. That was the plan.

Developing software that takes advantage of multi-core processors is a bit more challenging, you have to write multi-threaded software. I recently posted an article speaking about this, you can read it at http://www.adriensweb.com/text/pthreads_comeback.html

I would like to write about some details of the CBE, but the licensing terms of the CBE software development kit and CBE simulator (which runs on Fedora Core 4)  prevent anyone from writing about them. In fact, after reading the licensing terms I decided not to download those two packages (IBM asks you to agree with the licensing terms before you download the packages.)

If all of this seems like shameless self-promotion, it is.



jim stockford <jim at well.com> wrote: 
    Momtaheni's Posting and Announcement seems to
announce activities pertaining to linux running on IBM's
new cell CPU. I'd like to know what's this BE business
(as in "cell BE")?
    This strikes me as potentially important as IBM has
a big and high quality RnD department and the cell
CPU is touted as a worthy alternative to Intel's (and
others') offerings.
    If IBM is pushing the cell CPU, what machines will
appear? "Back room" machines for sure, possibly new
user (desktop, gaming...) machines, too, maybe new
data and service appliances.
    The computer user community at large seems to be
at some kind of breaking point: open source is gaining
popularity, linux is increasing market share with a new
push for desktop use, there are cracks in the paradigms
for embedded systems (calls for more CPUs rather
than more complex software, for one example).
    There's a new spate of product offerings that are
services for users: google's calendar/email/im/
spreadsheet..., zimbra's on-line office productivity
services (word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, data
management--basically an office anywhere--for less
than $30 per month), Foldera's new organization/
collaboration online service (seems no charge for now).
And if the One Laptop One Child initiative really takes
off, there will be a huge infusion of new linux users
using mesh networking on the internet: what new
ideas will emerge from them?
    All of the above threatens Microsoft's hold on the
market: significantly, its paradigms for use are
    For sure there's a sea change coming, and news of
Linux on the cell CPU may portend something.

On Jun 13, 2006, at 12:10 PM, Ida A Momtaheni wrote:

> Hello,
>  I would like to post the information below about the PA Technical  
> Briefing below to your website please.
> Cell BE programming and extensions to Linux
>  Link to Website:  
> http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/offers/techbriefings/details/ 
> powerarch.html?S_TACT=106AH59W&S_CMP=LPTCHBRF&ca=dgr-lnxUG016Cell-BE- 
> Briefing
>  Join us while we explore the details of Cell Broadband Engine (Cell  
> BE) programming. This Tech briefing provides a comprehensive technical  
> overview of the Cell BE architecture, programming models, and software  
> development environment. You will learn all about Cell BE standards  
> like the application binary interface specifications, SPE C/C++  
> language extensions, SPE assembly language specification, system-level  
> simulator, Cell BE simulator debugging environment, and Cell BE  
> extensions to Linux.
>  Thanks,
>  Ida Momtaheni
>  developerWorks
>  IBM Corporation
>  425 Market St.
>  San Francisco, CA 94105
>  iamomtah at us.ibm.com
> _______________________________________________
> sf-lug mailing list
> sf-lug at linuxmafia.com
> http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/sf-lug
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