Coming shortly after the news of a potential IBM
development of a supercomputer based on Opterons and Cells
, IBM is now preparing to sell Cell blades
. Blade servers have become increasingly popular in many environments when performance and space are both concerns, such as with expanding companies or cramped datacenters. Starting with the “QS20” Blade, each system is configured with dual 3.2GHz Cell “Broadband Engine” processors. These puppies don't come cheap, either – nearly a whopping $19,000 for one unit. Designed for extremely demanding tasks, the cost is beyond the reach of most small businesses and destined primarily for research centers and military use. There are some limitations to the Cell scalability:
Unlike IBM blades with Big Blue's Power processors, Intel's Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, the Cell blades can't be intermixed with other varieties in the same BladeCenter chassis.
Will they be able to sell the Cell? If they do make it succeed as a server platform, it'll prompt significant changes in software development as time goes in.