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U.S. Air Force Creates Powerful Supercomputer Out Of PS3s
U.S. Air Force Creates Powerful Supercomputer Out Of PS3s
November 30, 2010 | By Kyle Orland

November 30, 2010 | By Kyle Orland
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The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has connected 1,760 PlayStation 3 systems together to create what the organization is calling the fastest interactive computer in the entire Defense Department.

The Condor Cluster, as the group of systems is known, also includes 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers in an parallel array capable of performing 500 trillion floating point operations per second (500 TFLOPS), according to AFRL Director of High Power Computing Mark Barnell.

Using PS3s for the supercomputer's core allowed AFRL to construct the system for a total cost of $2 million, which Barnell estimates is five to 10 percent of an equivalent system built entirely with off-the-shelf computer parts. It will also consume one-tenth the power of other comparably powered supercomputers, officials said.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, the cluster, which is housed in Rome, New York, will be used for research by Air Force service branches and centers across the country.

The computer will reportedly be used for quick processing of ultra-high-resolution satellite imagery, as well as research into artificial intelligence, radar enhancement and pattern recognition.

Defense engineers worked directly with Sony and a distributor to acquire the systems, according to an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The project used the older, large PS3 units rather than new Slim models which, crucially, do not allow for the installation of Linux as an "Other OS."

In 2000, it was widely reported that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was planning to string then-cutting-edge PlayStation 2 systems into a defense supercomputer, though UK intelligence sources dismissed the claims as "nonsense."

Researchers at the University of Illinois later strung 70 PS2s into a supercomputer capable of 500 billion operations per second.


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Comments


A W
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Remember when Saddam reportedly was buying PS2s to control his Weapons of Mass Destruction... at least that's how I heard it.



EDIT: oh it is mention in the story lol

Emperador Alencio
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Good, now they can buy 1,760 xbox's (old model) and use them for the creation of a super heat system.

Caleb Garner
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lol

Ron Alpert
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This just in, The U.S. Department of Dentistry has orded 5,000 refurbished Atari Jaguars to clean diplomats' mouths of gingivitis.



http://www.insertcredit.com/news/022004/hotrod.jpg

Aaron Casillas
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Hope they checked the systems for any hidden software, hmm.

Michael Kelley
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Good point. Especially given that Sony has, in the past, rootkited unsuspecting user's computers. Even Homeland security decried Sony.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_CD_copy_protection_scandal

Andre Gagne
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Yeah, and then they utilize the 8th SPU and the entire thing melts itself before their eyes...

Marque Sondergaard
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Nice to notice that for pound for pound raw computing power, a PS3 is hard to beat price wise.

gus one
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Who would have thought the PS2s were the Weapon of Mass Destruction. No wonder the didn't find the WMD's. They were too busy playing games to realise.

Robert Schmidt
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This would be a good idea for creating a cloud for hosting MMOs. $2m is chump change.

Duong Nguyen
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Thats a good idea.. A self contained computing unit with HD and linux based OS, but you'll need to use the old Fat PS3 (like above) or unlock the new slims to run the other OS. The cells processors are still more flexible than the current GPUs, so even though you probably can get the same FLOPs are a lower cost using pure GPU solution, the cloud might not be compatible with what your trying to run.

David Fisk
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this is really old news.

Willie Johnson
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Cool story, but last I heard Wright-Patt was in Dayton, OH. I'm guess the PS3s are in New York though.

Kyle Orland
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Whoop. This has been fixed.

Mark Harris
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Interesting. However, I know of two companies right now that can build you a more-capable cluster (including redundancy) for half that price using much less hardware. I imagine the difference is more efficient control software.



edit : Come to think of it one of those solutions might not work because it's optimized for databases, but the other could be an option. I don't know their tech especially well, though.

James Johnson
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Far out. Imagine how much faster it would be if they used Xbox 360s instead. Plus the graphics would be slightly better.

John Connor
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I think they are planning to dial the 9th chevron.


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