Gameframe

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A gameframe is a hybrid computer system that was first used in the online video games industry. It is an amalgamation of the different technologies and architectures for supercomputers and mainframes, namely high computing power and high throughput.

In 2007, Hoplon and IBM jointly started the gameframe project in which they used an IBM System z mainframe computer with attached Cell/B.E. blades (the nine-core parallel-processing chips that power Sony's PlayStation 3) to host[1] their online game Taikodom. The project was carried further by a co-operation between IBM and the University of California, San Diego in 2009.[2]

Whilst the Cell blades account for the required computing power, it's the high data throughput of the mainframe which is of particular interest.

System z provides a high level of security and massive workload handling, assuring the execution of its administrative tasks and guaranteeing an enduring connectivity to a huge number of clients. Cell/B.E. takes over the most resource demanding calculations thus enabling the System z to fulfill its job.

This combination is an effective and financially attractive game server system, as the most computation-intensive tasks are offloaded from the expensive CPU cycles of System z and are carried out on the much more economical Cell blades. Without offloading, the server system required would end up costing too much and would not be financially feasible.[3]

Unlike typical game clusters, the gameframe can handle the required transactions (e.g. keeping track of each user's spaceships, weapons, and virtual money even between the players) and the simulation (trajectory of objects and checking for collisions) in a unified and consistent fashion. Thus, it can host a few thousand users at a time and no slow down is experienced when more users are added.

Games with numerous players like World of Warcraft have tackled this problem by splitting the work among multiple clusters, creating duplicate worlds that don't communicate.[4]

The Cell-augmented mainframe runs Hoplon's virtual-world middleware, called bitVerse, which uses IBM's WebSphere XD and DB2 software.[5]

Around the Gameframe, the IBM Virtual Universe Community has evolved.

The word gameframe itself is a portmanteau of the two words game and mainframe.

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