IBM's investment in the facility is roughly $3,8 million, including equipment and staffing costs, with lab space and datacentre support leased from the university. Academic institutions and business customers will have access to the centre to design, test and optimize new devices based on IBM's "supercomputer on a chip" technology.
"We chose Indiana for this centre because of the close proximity of leading institutions like Indiana University (IU), IU School of Medicine and Purdue, as well as its well-earned reputation as a hot bed of life sciences expertise", stated Dr. Robert Eades, manager of the centre. "We believe we can couple this expertise with the advanced capabilities of our Cell technology to benefit not only medicine, but a broad range of industries and applications."
The Cell processor is an advanced chip developed in partnership by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, with up to nine processor cores that allow it to operate at speeds up to 5GHz. Its ability to process large amounts of information, coupled with its high bandwidth communication capabilities, allows developers to place massive amounts of processing power into relatively small devices, improving performance easily and economically.
"This is a great new opportunity for Indiana and for our growing life sciences industry", stated Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. "IBM's commitment will allow the next generation of computing technology to evolve in Indiana."
Home to Indiana University School of Medicine, the United States' second-largest medical school, the IUPUI campus offers the new centre access to researchers and life sciences leaders in the state to identify possible uses and applications for the new high-speed computing technology.
"Location matters, and locating this IBM applications centre on the IUPUI campus brings together people and technology to advance Indiana", stated Brad Wheeler, Indiana University vice president for information technology and chief information officer. "This is a natural fit and an important public-private partnership for the state."
While IBM has partnerships with universities around the world, this is the first time it has located a technology development center staffed by IBM professionals on a college campus. "To advance computing we are going to have to be more creative about how we use parallel programming", stated Gerry McCartney, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Purdue University. "By placing the Future Technology Solution Design Center along Indiana's I-65 research corridor, IBM will be able to work with scientists and engineers from Purdue, IUPUI, and IU-Bloomington to optimize their research so that it will run on the next generation of supercomputers."
IBM has already logged advances in life sciences using the new technology. A partnership with the Mayo clinic has allowed development of a Cell-based system to quickly analyse and compare 3D MRI images from the same patient taken months apart to evaluate the effectiveness of cancer treatment. This comparative process that once took seven hours can now be performed in seven minutes or less using the new Cell-based system.
Future applications in the medical field could include a global database of medical images that would allow doctors around the world to compare samples in real time - allowing a doctor in New York to consult a specialist in San Francisco to more accurately and promptly diagnose a patient's condition.
Cell processors also can be used in other applications requiring the processing and sharing of large amounts of data, particularly image-processing applications. For example, products based on Cell are being developed for use in sonar and radar applications by Mercury Computers.
More information about the IBM-Mayo partnership can be found in the VMW May 2007 article Mayo Clinic and IBM score significant advance in real-time medical imaging.