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12/8/2006
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Innovators & Influencers: IBM Master Inventor Takes Cell Chip Beyond Games

Gschwind helped develop the Cell chip. Now he's working to popularize parallel processing beyond games and supercomputers.

The tech industry engenders a lot of interesting job titles--evangelist, chief Yahoo, knowledge sorceress. But the coolest might belong to Michael Gschwind, the technical lead on IBM's hugely successful Cell processor. Gschwind's business card says master inventor, a title he earned developing more than a dozen technologies patented by IBM, from more efficient memory systems to better ways to improve processor power.

Right now, Gschwind is all about Cell, the chip that powers Sony's PlayStation 3, meeting the graphics demands of games like Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto as the processor spreads workloads across multiple cores.

Cell's going beyond games. IBM's helping medical device makers develop Cell-based equipment for real-time diagnostic imaging. "Parallel processing used to be the exclusive domain of high-end supercomputers," says the 38-year-old Austrian. "Now it's going to have a much more widespread impact."

To make sure that happens, Gschwind spends considerable time teaching developers the most efficient ways to write code for Cell and take advantage of a multicore environment. No sense being a master inventor if no one uses what you make.

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