today the deployment of the first-ever custom commercial grid for the
online video gaming market. The Butterfly Grid(TM) could
enable online video game providers to support a massive number of players
within the same game by allocating computing resources to the most
populated areas and most popular games.
Butterfly.net, a development studio and infrastructure provider to
the online video game market, will demonstrate the Butterfly Grid system to
members of the video gaming industry at the Electronic Entertainment Expo
(E3) 2002 show beginning May 21 in Los Angeles.
The Grid was built by Butterfly.net over the last two years using IBM
e-business infrastructure technology that distributes the processing of
video game interaction across a network of server farms, enabling
Butterfly.net to support a massive number of video gamers playing
simultaneously over the Internet. The Grid is a secure system built on
customized software operating on the private network of Butterfly.net.
Video game providers can access the Grid to support their online
products by including the Butterfly Grid client software libraries in the
games they distribute. These software libraries, along with sample code
for connecting mobile devices, PCs and video game consoles to the Grid, are
available for download from www.butterfly.net.
"We selected IBM as the infrastructure provider for our Grid because
of their unparalleled support for the Linux operating system and grid
computing, their understanding of the unique processing and communication
requirements of video games, their carrier-independent collocation centers
and their commitment to developing this market opportunity with us as a
true partner," said David Levine, CEO of Butterfly.net.
The Butterfly Grid is powered by rack-mounted Linux-based IBM eServer
xSeries systems hosted by IBM and running on internal fiber-optic networks
for optimal use of computing and communications resources. The grid design
offers the potential to support over one million simultaneous players from
each facility in a 24/7 environment with automatic fail over capability.
"The Butterfly Grid is an innovative Grid system with the capability
of processing online video games across a multicast network of server
farms, allowing efficient utilization of computing resources for
high-performance 3D immersive game-worlds," said Scott Penberthy, vice
president of Business Development, IBM Global Services. "We believe the
Butterfly Grid is a breakthrough platform that will help entertainment,
media and game companies reduce costs and better deploy their entertainment
Online video games have historically segmented players onto separate
servers, limiting the number that could interact and creating reliability
and support obstacles. In the first generation of games, when one server
is down, or patches are being installed, game-play comes to a halt.
Butterfly's second-generation grid technology enables online video game
providers to reliably deliver fast-paced, cutting edge games to millions at
the same time. The server interaction is completely transparent and
seamless to the user ? delivering a resilient gaming infrastructure where
servers can be added, or replaced, without interrupting game-play.
Globus Project co-leader Dr. Ian Foster of Argonne National
Laboratory and the University of Chicago noted, "The Butterfly Grid
approach to building scalable, reliable gaming infrastructure is a
wonderful example of how Grid and Globus Toolkit technologies can deliver
real value to end users. We're delighted to have Butterfly working with
The new Butterfly Grid is the industry's first to provide support
Massive numbers of players within one persistent-state world. --
Before the Butterfly Grid, online video games have been divided into
"shards" that provide copies of the game world on separate servers,
limiting the number of players that can interact. The Butterfly Grid
provides "cross-server sentinels" that could potentially support the
interaction of millions of players in one true world, with server
boundaries invisible to players.
Distributed Artificial Intelligence -- Butterfly.net provides a
"daemon controller" for advanced interactions between players and
non-player characters through a simple, standard Python interface.
Â· Game genre's -- Developers can build innovative action, strategy,
role-playing, simulation and adventure games, combine genres and invent new
Multiple, concurrent games -- With multiple online video games on one
computing grid, publishers can allocate resources to more popular games,
launch new games with less risk, and offer flexible and innovative
subscription plans to drive revenue growth.
Connected devices -- Butterfly.net connects PCs, PocketPCs,
Palm-compatible handhelds, and dedicated video-game consoles in
massively-multiplayer online games. An innovative packet-transport protocol
provides fast, balanced game-play over broadband, dial-up and mobile
Internet connections for unique multi-channel interactions
Hot-swappable components. -- Once an online video game is launched, it
doesn't need to be constantly taken off line for patches or maintenance.
When grid components are unavailable, connections are redirected to
available resources for continuous gameplay.
3D engine support -- Game developers working on the Butterfly Grid
can exploit fully integrated, industry-standard 3D engines out of the box.
An emerging model of computing, Grids are built with clusters of
servers joined together over the Internet, using protocols provided by the
Globus open source community and other open technologies, including LinuxÂ®.
Like the World Wide Web enables people to share content over standard, open
protocols, Grid protocols emerging from the Globus open source community
are enabling organizations to create virtual organizations sharing
applications, data and computing power over the Internet to collaborate,
tackle large problems and lower the cost of computing.
Butterfly.net is working with Globus to ensure that any video game
developed according to publicly-available specifications and Internet open
standards can draw resources-on-demand from the Butterfly Grid. The Globus
Toolkit, available by download from www.globus.org, provides authorization
and accounting functions, allocates hardware resources, configures
game-specific logic and monitors performance on the Butterfly Grid.
IBM is the industry's leading supplier of Grid systems and services
to the scientific and technical community and is working with the Globus
open source community and others to extend Grid computing into commercial
environments. In addition to working with many of the world's leading labs
and research organizations in the development of Grid projects, IBM
Research used Globus technologies to build its own Grid -- a geographically
distributed supercomputer linking IBM research and development labs in the
United States, Israel, Switzerland, Japan and England. IBM's Global
Services organization offers the complete range of IT skills needed to
build, run and maintain Grids.
Butterfly.net, Inc., based in Shepherdstown, WV and Los Angeles, CA, is a
development studio, online publisher and infrastructure provider for
Massively-Multiplayer Games that connect players on PCs, consoles and
mobile devices. Butterfly.net? and Butterfly Grid? are trademarks of
Butterfly.net, Inc. For more information about Butterfly.net, visit
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of
leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across
IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services,
solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take
full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about
IBM, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.ibm.com"http://www.ibm.com.
About the Globus Project (TM)
The Globus Project is a multi-institutional research and development effort
creating fundamental technologies for computational grids. Grids are
persistent environments that enable software applications to integrate
instruments, displays, computational and information resources that are
managed by diverse organizations in widespread locations. A primary product
of the Globus Project is the open source Globus ToolkitTM, which is being
used in numerous large Grid deployment and application projects in the
United States, Europe, and around the world. The Globus Project is based at
Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Southern California's
Information Sciences Institute. For more information, visit the Globus
Project web site at www.globus.org.