Air Force Still Using PS3 as 33rd Largest Computer

We've talked multiple times about the PlayStation 3 cluster that the U.S. Air Force has working for it, doing intense and fast analysis of high-resolution images, and a new story from Cleveland.com brings a few new details.

For one, the USAF now as 1,760 PlayStation 3 consoles that make up its supercomputer called the Condor Cluster. Mark Barnell, the high-performance computing director at the Air Force Research Lab's operation in Rome, NY believes that its PS3 farm is about the 33rd largest computer in the world.

That number could be slipping, however, as newer and faster technologies come into play. When the PlayStation 3 launched, the USAF selected it for both its hardware and price.

"It was very good and revolutionary, and it contained some architecture that didn't exist at that time," Barnell said. "So we're looking forward to working with the next generation of architecture."

To get the same level of power, the USAF would have had to spend $10,000 to get the same as what could be done by a PS3 at the fraction of the cost. That was some time ago, so now the USAF is looking towards the next generation.

Until then, the USAF will be working with its classic PS3s. It won't be any fun and games, though, as the machines run Linux and have had their Blu-ray Disc drives disabled, likely for both security measures and to prevent endless loops of Avatar in 3D.

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    Top Comments
  • tsnorquist
    @nottheking

    I'll sleep better tonight knowing you're smarter than then entire United States Air Force in their decision making.
    25
  • webbwbb
    notthekingWell, here's the lowdown: the the PS3 makes a terrible supercomputer node. Why's that? It's because its Cell processor was not designed for double-precision.


    They are using it to process satellite images, not for creating scientific models. With image processing single precision works very well and it IS very powerful at 317 teraflops which I would say qualifies it as a supercomputer.
    22
  • rbarone69
    americanherosandwich$10,000? Divide that by 1,760, it means they bought each PS3 for $5.68? I don't think that's accurate. Hell, they have laptops that cost $10k.


    "To get the same level of power, the USAF would have had to spend $10,000 to get ths same as what could be done by a PS3 at the fraction of the cost"

    Read that again :) They would have had to invest 10k PER module, not 10k for all the PS3s.

    So...

    $ 17,600,000 vs $ 528,000

    Great savings there!
    21
  • Other Comments
  • dalauder
    They should sell those off on ebay for $80 bucks each.
    -3
  • Parsian
    that must of got on Sony's nerve lol... HPC at the loss of Sony
    3
  • aznshinobi
    dalauderThey should sell those off on ebay for $80 bucks each.


    Classics, IMO, look better than the new PS3's.
    18