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 their online game Taikodom. The project was carried further by a co-operation between IBM and the University of California, San Diego in 2009.
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.
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.
Around the Gameframe, the IBM Virtual Universe Community has evolved.
- Cell Broadband Engine Project Aims to Supercharge IBM Mainframe for Virtual Worlds Apr 26, 2007 at ibm.com
- UC San Diego and IBM Launch Center for Next-Generation Digital Media to Power Tomorrow's Virtual Worlds Mar 17, 2009 at ucsdnews.ucsd.edu
- Master's Thesis by Huiyan Roy University of Tübingen (2008)
- IEEE Spectrum Magazine Aug 2008 at ieee.org
- IBM to wed game chip with mainframes Apr 25, 2007 at news.cnet.com
- "To Probe Further: The Gameframe Guild" Aug 2008 at ieee.org
- "Mainframes on the Cutting Edge of Technology: Hoplon Infotainment’s Gameframe" Sept 11, 2008 at mainframezone.com
- "Sun and I.B.M. to Offer New Class of High-End Servers" Apr 26, 2007 at nytimes.com