Winner: Multimedia Monster

Cell’s nine processors make it a supercomputer on a chip

10 min read
photo of IBM team
Multicellular: IBM’s James A. Kahle (center) led a team that included Toshiba’s Atsushi Kameyama (left) and Sony’s Masakazu Suzuoki.
Photo: Brent Humphreys; Image Manipulation: Mike Vella

We’re flying at about Mach 1.5 around Mount Saint Helens, in Washington state. IBM Corp. senior programmer Barry L. Minor is at the controls, rocketing us over the crater and then down to the lake at its base to skim over the tree trunks that have been floating there since the volcano exploded over 25 years ago. The flight is exhilarating, even though it’s just a simulation projected on a widescreen monitor in a cluttered testing lab.

Then, at the flick of a switch, Minor turns the simulation over from his new Cell processor to a dual-processor Apple Power Mac G5, and the scenery freezes. The G5 almost audibly groans under the burden, though it’s no slouch. In fact, it’s currently the top of the line for PCs. But Cell is something different entirely. It’s a bet on what consumers will do with data and how best to suit microprocessors to the task—and it’s really, really fast. Cell, which is shorthand for Cell Broadband Engine Architecture, is a US $400 million joint effort of IBM, Sony, and Toshiba. It was originally conceived as the microprocessor to power Sony’s third-generation game console, PlayStation 3, to be released this spring, but it is expected to find a home in lots of other broadband-connected consumer items and in servers too.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.

NVIDIA

On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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NYU Biomedical Engineering Speeds Research from Lab Bench to Bedside

Intensive clinical collaboration is fueling growth of NYU Tandon’s biomedical engineering program

5 min read

This optical tomography device that can be used to recognize and track breast cancer, without the negative effects of previous imaging technology. It uses near-infrared light to shine into breast tissue and measure light attenuation that is caused by the propagation through the affected tissue.

A.H. Hielscher, Clinical Biophotonics Laboratory

This is a sponsored article brought to you by NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.

When Andreas H. Hielscher, the chair of the biomedical engineering (BME) department at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, arrived at his new position, he saw raw potential. NYU Tandon had undergone a meteoric rise in its U.S. News & World Report graduate ranking in recent years, skyrocketing 47 spots since 2009. At the same time, the NYU Grossman School of Medicine had shot from the thirties to the #2 spot in the country for research. The two scientific powerhouses, sitting on opposite banks of the East River, offered Hielscher a unique opportunity: to work at the intersection of engineering and healthcare research, with the unmet clinical needs and clinician feedback from NYU’s world-renowned medical program directly informing new areas of development, exploration, and testing.

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