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Serious Games @ IBM - Gameframes

IBM engineer Tami Vogel inspects the Cell Broadband Engine(tm) under a powerful optical microscope while technician Jim Never prepares to view the IBM mainframe's multi-chip module. IBM announced a project to integrate the Cell Broadband Engine and the mainframe to create a super-powerful system capable of running massive, incredibly-realistic online games and virtual worlds.

As online environments increasingly incorporate aspects of virtual reality -- including 3D graphics and lifelike, real-time interaction among many simultaneous users -- companies of all types will need a computing platform that can handle a broad spectrum of demanding performance and security requirements. To serve this market, the Cell/B.E. processor could become the perfect complement to the mainframe, the only server designed to handle millions of simultaneous users.

At its heart, the project 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/B.E.

Cell/B.E. and Mainframe: A Beautiful Partnership

In the relationship between the mainframe and Cell/B.E. capabilities, Cell/B.E. will handle the complex simulation associated with operating in virtual worlds -- for example, a ball thrown in a virtual reality world must obey the laws of gravity.

To that end, IBM with Brazilian game developer Hoplon are porting Hoplon software to the Cell/B.E. to handle message passing and physics simulation. The companies have already created a programming model and messaging architecture that separates the application running on the system.

For its part, the mainframe will run Hoplon's industry-specific middleware for virtual worlds, called bitVerse, currently under development using WebSphere XD as the underlying runtime environment, along with DB2.

About Hoplon Infotainment

Founded in 2000, Hoplon Infotainment is dedicated to multiplayer online games and complex simulations, as well as related online entertainment and business training ventures based on advanced information systems. Hoplon is located in Florianopolis, Brazil, and on the Web at

Image courtesy of Hoplon Infotainment