Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Cell - A Revolution In 3d Rendering And Graphic Applications

The Cell Broadband Engine is a distributed computer processor capable of running instructions at upwards of 200 gigaflops or 200 trillion instructions per second. Although these would be fairly simple instructions, the speed of the Cell means it can process very complex information faster because it would break it down, process elements, then reassemble the finished product faster than a normal processor.

One possible future for the Cell is in the avenue of a render farm for 3d and computer animated films and television shows.

Here's how it would possibly work:

* Get 6 PS3's
* link them together with a 8 port high-speed ethernet switch capable of running 1000 base-t or gigabit ethernet speed. Connect a Linux computer to the 7th port.
* 8th port of the switch goes to high-speed internet.
* Load a software application on the linux pc that can coordinate a distributed computing environment
* Load a node application onto each PS3's linux kernel so they can run code sent from the central computer.

Then all that is needed is to run the program to begin the render engine. Load it with the frameset and let it pass the data onto the PS3 network so the Cell processors can go to work. The Cell is designed for graphical rendering and scaled linear data computing, which makes it nearly perfect for graphic processes of the type that a render farm would be best suited for.

A current project that would work for the Cell is BURP (Big and Ugly Render Project) as it is designed for both distributed computing and will run on the Linux kernel. By setting graphic files in a format able to be read by the Blender graphic program, they could be sent through BURP and processed by a dedicated PS3 network, and the resulting finished frames sent back to the central machine for assembly into a finished Computer Generated Animation.

The possibilities for the Cell are endless, but this is one that we expect to see within the next 12-18 months. I would be very surprised if this does not happen.

Tim Morrison is a founding member of, a technology company developed to bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds in the realm of 3d. Our goal is to be able to produce a 3d image on the computer and then produce it as a physical object - no matter what the complexity or detail involved. In this vein, we keep track of anything in relation to 3D imagery that can bring our goals closer, be it gaming consoles that can do more than play games, hardware imaging solutions, or software that can make our lives easier. Real World 3D is coming, Morristreet is in the lead!

By: Tim Morrison

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