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As if Calit2 doesn’t already have enough super-cool toys, University of California, San Diego announced today that IBM is giving the institute its latest and greatest mainframe computer, which will be the centerpiece of its newly established next-generation digital media center.

The $2.2 million mainframe, an IBM System z server, will allow students and researchers at Calit2 (short for the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology) to take computer games and other digital media to the next level, according to a UCSD news release.

Here is what IBM honcho Bernie Meyerson had to say in the release:

Students will have access to IBM’s newest hybrid computing system with blazingly fast and powerful capabilities. UCSD students can now tap into security features and ‘specialty engines’ designed to handle a new generation of virtual world applications, where massive numbers of simultaneous users can share a single environment.

Sheldon Brown, a visual arts professor at UCSD who heads the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (which is sharing in the IBM gift), said his group will use the server to develop and operate a virtual world based on Brown’s museum installation “Scalable City.”

Said Brown in the release:

We want to facilitate the invention of the next generation of digital media. By significantly increasing the experiential richness of virtual worlds, we think they will become a proving ground for creating and interconnecting digital media of all forms, starting with games and cinema. As virtual worlds and digital cinema develop more visual sophistication and cultural literacy about how we use them, they will start to intersect and will become much richer and more complex.

Count on me doing a story on this center when it gets up and running.

DAVID WASHBURN

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