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Power PC, Cell processor, Open source and You

Last modified Jan 02, 2006
Power PC, Cell processor, Open source and You
A pattern is emerging here.
It looks like you can go to this IBM web page and obtain enough technical information to design and build a complete PowerPC 750. It seems you could use that info to build your own PPC motherboard, build it, have enough software from IBM to boot up your new system and get a c++ compiler running under linux. P=DWPA

This is more or less the same thing IBM did with the original IBM PC. They published a book with enough info for anyone to build their own PC. And many did, which created the PC industry.

You can go here to get specs on a similar Power PC system built by IBM.

If you want buy one of these babies all you have to do is fill out a customer infomation form that looks like you are filling out your income taxes. I figure that even if you had $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket and you just had to have one of these, it would take you 6 months to actually get one.

On the other hand, you can go to TigerDirect and with your credit card, have an X86 PC on the way in under 10 minutes.

Nobody at IBM wants to handle the messy business of dealing with the public.

IBM along with a dozen other companies (no really well known companies) have put up this very simple web site with the apparent purpose of open sourcing the Power PC technology. This web site went up in late 2004. In the last few days (from Feb 20, 2005) has grown to include very complete information about the Cell Processor.

The pattern is...IBM is going to open source the Cell Processor!

This means:
- IBM will design a complete Cell based system like they have just done for the 970 linked above.
- Anyone will be allowed to build that system without IBM trying stop them. In fact it looks like IBM will try to help.
- When the design is released, there will be a complete Linux distribution from Red Hat and Suse including open office
- There will be complete software development tools which will allow any existing application to be ported to the Cell.
- Included in the software development tools will be support for the new multiple SPE's which make the Cell so fast.
- There will also be support for the FlexIO subsystem which allows high speed cooperation between multiple cell chips.

What will this Cell Based system look like? - Our Speculation
- MotherBoard supports up to 4 Cell Chips
- Each Cell Chip will have its own Rambus main memory. The memory will be on plug in strips much like DDR etc
- The Cell Chips on the motherboard will cooperate by means of FlexIO which is a multilane/serial technology.
- There will be two slots meant for video cards. Similar to AGP but designed for Rambus, not AGP compatable, 10x faster than AGP.
- All other I/O will be done by means of FlexIO similar to what is now possible with USB - except the system will boot from flexIO
- There will be no legacy hardware support - NO PCI, AGP, usb, serial, parallel, ps2 , ethernet - nothing
- The power supply will need to be about 500 watts.
- power management will allow cell chips and parts of cell chips to be powered down when not in use.
- There will be 16 FlexIO ports coming out the back. 2 in and 2 out for each Cell Chip.
- Cluster can be created by stacking Cell Boxes and connecting them with the FlexIO cables.

Our Predictions
Intel will be building Cell Chips within 12 months with cooperation from IBM. Microsoft will first try to port windows to the cell, but Linux will be ahead of windows. Microsoft will fall appart. Apple will make ICells whatever that is.

This will be a very disruptive but very exciting time as technology produces magic in every area - entertainment, energy, transportation, manufacturing, health care, military, banking, retail, everything. The breakthroughs will be front page news for 3 years. The stock market will tripple in value by 2009.

How does IBM benefit? The fortune 500 will grow faster than ever - based on IBM IT.