U.S. Air Force Finishes PS3 Supercomputer of Epic Proportions

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U.S. Air Force Finishes PS3 Supercomputer of Epic Proportions

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The Air Force plays Call of Duty on the most powerful game console in existence.

The United States Air Force Research Laboratory has completed what it calls the Condor Cluster, a supercomputer made entirely of PlayStation 3 consoles. The Condor Cluster, housed in Rome, New York, reportedly has capabilities heads and tails above every other interactive computer in the Department of Defense.

Made of 1,760 PlayStation 3 processors and 168 general purpose processors, the Condor Cluster provides extreme power for its relatively low cost. It has the ability to calculate 500 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), but was made for $2 million thanks to the cost of the PS3. Mark Barnell, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory's High Power Computing division, says this is "a cost savings of between 10 and 20 times for the equivalent capability." It also uses 1/10 the power of a comparable supercomputer, apparently making it "green."

The Condor Cluster is not the fastest supercomputer in town, with the big boys currently able to compute a couple of quadrillion FLOPS, but it'll still be useful to the military. The entire Department of Defense will have access to the Condor Cluster on a shared basis, and it is predicted to be used for "neuromorphic artificial intelligence research, synthetic aperture radar enhancement, image enhancement and pattern recognition research." These are likely codewords for "so the U.S. government can look through your window more easily."

The Air Force will cut the ribbon on the Condor Cluster today, December 1, 2010, making it open for computational business. The Condor Cluster might be a modern marvel of cheap supercomputing technology, but the Air Force was troubled by Sony's choice to remove the option to install Linux in a firmware update, making it harder to find replacement systems should a console break. If you've got an unboxed PS3 "Phat" laying around, keep the old firmware on that puppy and the U.S. military might make you an offer someday.

Source: Gamasutra

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I wonder if I could hack into their system using only a DualShock.

I'm kind of half-wondering whether they'd conduct some sort of clandestine deal with Sony to have the firmware update delivered by USB stick or something.

This was already in the news but I am glad Videogame consoles can be utilized for entire new means. Kinect helping the tech world and PS3 offering the raw computing power to be a alternative to costly supercomputers.

Tom Goldman:
predicted to be used for "neuromorphic artificial intelligence research

We're doomed!!

I think I just came a little bit... The uses for this could be quite interesting... I'm looking forward to hearing whatthey do with it... or what they SAY they're doing with it

JWAN:
AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Uhh.. 'Japan, fuck yeah' I think you meant to say..after all they designed and made the consoles.. America (Microsoft) should be pretty pissed that their own military won't use their hardware.

I wonder if Sony will have the balls to press charges for reverse engineering?

My teacher just told me about this. Can't wait to see what they do with all that UNLIMITED POWER!

I used to work at AFRL (my hometown is Rome, NY)! Even back then, I remember a group down the hall that tore apart the original Xbox to use their own hard drives and games for LAN parties... err "Research".

It is just the hardware of the PS3 not the OS. We are linking them using our own OS. It will be able to do a lot of things like recognize patterns in money transfers or enhance radar data and recognize targets. The AI research will be cool too. You should see some real neat results effecting the civilian world in a few years. Really cool piece of tech.

And this is why Sony is losing money on every console...

Tom Goldman:
"neuromorphic artificial intelligence research, synthetic aperture radar enhancement, image enhancement and pattern recognition research."

And so it begins...
Can't say I'm Glad(os).

I though they gave up on this when Sony made it so the PS3 couldnt run other OS's.

Fumbleumble:

JWAN:
AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Uhh.. 'Japan, fuck yeah' I think you meant to say..after all they designed and made the consoles.. America (Microsoft) should be pretty pissed that their own military won't use their hardware.

Nope. The US offered but Bill Gates refused on 'ethical' (see:money) reasons.

Sony loses money from this.

And then the Japanese military built a supercomputer out of Xboxes and then they both became sentient, and thus began the 1000 year console war.

X box<PS3<PC, removing the other OS thing was a dumb move

I don't mean to tell sony how to run their business, but maybe they should start constructing these type of computers specifically for the military. Apparently there is a market for it.

this is rather cool little piece of work.

LavaLampBamboo:
And then the Japanese military built a supercomputer out of Xboxes and then they both became sentient, and thus began the 1000 year console war.

But it only lasted for about three months, as the Xbox cluster went RODD. Japan should have used the newer ones...

Didn't they start this project a whole year ago? Seems like they should have been able to put this together a little faster.

Fumbleumble:

JWAN:
AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Uhh.. 'Japan, fuck yeah' I think you meant to say..after all they designed and made the consoles.. America (Microsoft) should be pretty pissed that their own military won't use their hardware.

It would be a bit harder to use Xbox 360s as they aren't capable of using any standard operating systems right out of the box. Of course, new PS3's aren't either (good move Sony, removing useful functionality from your system, I'm sure all your customers really appreciated that).

Furthermore, I don't see Japan making any cost effective, energy efficient, gaming console supercomputers. Do you?

You can't really sell supercomputers not a big market.
I love the system however, maybe somethimes some PS3 temporarly disappear, and reappear with some strange save files.
You guys forget that the other OS function was removed because it was used in the hack. Currently you can only use the hacks to play downloaded games.

On one hand it's cool to see video games systems used this way but on the other hand it's kind of douchey. The only reason it's "cheap" is because Sony can't charge what the system is actually costs to make.

Eldritch Warlord:
Didn't they start this project a whole year ago? Seems like they should have been able to put this together a little faster.

Fumbleumble:

JWAN:
AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Uhh.. 'Japan, fuck yeah' I think you meant to say..after all they designed and made the consoles.. America (Microsoft) should be pretty pissed that their own military won't use their hardware.

It would be a bit harder to use Xbox 360s as they aren't capable of using any standard operating systems right out of the box. Of course, new PS3's aren't either (good move Sony, removing useful functionality from your system, I'm sure all your customers really appreciated that).

Furthermore, I don't see Japan making any cost effective, energy efficient, gaming console supercomputers. Do you?

Ithink xbox's aren't used because the hardware is pretty crap and it wouldn't be possible rather than a software issue.. I'm sure if the military were willing to use MS stuff then MS would be more than willing to write some software for it.. but they lose out on thatalso, to Linux.

And no, they don't make the supercomputers, they just design and build the hardware that enables others.

stinkychops:

Nope. The US offered but Bill Gates refused on 'ethical' (see:money) reasons.

Source please.

lol if this was made with 360's it would be hotter then the sun, good call going with ps3's

Should have used PS2s.

Fear the combined power of 2,000 emotion engines!

Aha, so the army finally accumilated enough money to buy one?

Rome NY? I live RIGHT NEAR THERE!

The US Military (the AIR FORCE no less?!) being FRUGAL?!

No wonder Sony is pissed; those are 1700 PS3s that aren't going to turn game sales for them, and they were all sold at a loss.

I'm guessing the Air Force won/settled their suit with Sony for the False Advertising from months back?

The U.S. military has never been known for smart spending, and this is just beyond cool.

no linux fuck that, bastard Sony
but it is impressive that they are using PS3s as processors

FUN FACT
the N64 is about 2000 times faster than the computers they used to send astronaughts to the moon

Yeah, that's impressive until you remember Sony gave them the middle finger by removing Linux support. Then all it takes is a few YLODs and the whole thing is busted, or crippled at least.

I for one welcome our new sentient videogame overlords.

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