IBM shelves Cell

It looks like IBM is going to shelf the Power Cell processor. Cell during its lifetime never really garnered the ubiquity it needed to do what NVidia is doing with GPU.

I had guessed on this site previously that Cell needed to get wider distribution to maintain a base. The business model for acceleration is ubiquity, and then its a tools play.

Unfortunately IBM never really seemed to commit to the platform. We worked closely with Terrasoft (pre-Fixstars) to try to get buy in on some projects. Kai Staats had enlisted a good support network, and we talked over a few business models. I didn’t get a sense from IBM that they were all that interested in this taking off.

The thing about creative destruction is, either you do it, or someone else will do it for you. IBM ceded this to NVidia. Well, pretty much everyone has.

Target ubiquity (make it cheap and easy to install/use), build a tool ecosystem, build a developer ecosystem, and get out of the way.

Cell didn’t have these attributes. Costs were far too high to be reasonable (PXCABs are expensive).

We have an order now for one of our 4x PXCAB based units. I’ll ask the customer in light of this, whether or not they still want it.

Sad, but I expect more technologies to be abandoned before this is over. Anything that doesn’t have a real hope of turning a profit, no real pull in the market, or push from the vendor, no possible path to ubiquity … this I expect to be pulled from the market.

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