Air Force Orders 2,200 PlayStation 3s

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Air Force Orders 2,200 PlayStation 3s

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The United States Air Force has plans to use PS3s to help modernize its supercomputer systems through distributed computing.

In a requisition order dated on November 16th, the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) asked to buy 2,200 PlayStation 3s. The consoles will not be used to play games or to find child pornographists, but instead they are part of a research project to help modernize the military's super computer systems. The AFRL in Rome, N.Y. is interested in the Cell chip technology used by Sony to build PS3s. After pricing out competing chips from IBM or Intel, the research team discovered something that some gamers already know: game consoles cost way less than the materials used to make them. It's called a loss-leader, fellas.

Arguably, Sony got the ball rolling using distributive computing by releasing Folding@home to run computing cycles on PS3s when the consumer was not using it. It is not clear whether they anticipated that consumers and even governments would realize that they were selling the cheapest computing power on the planet, and try to exploit that.

The Air Force has been experimenting with linked PS3s for some time. Right now, the ARFL has 336 PS3s linked together in an Linux-cluster but they are looking to expand the experiment. The requisition puts it this way:

With respect to cell processors, a single 1U server configured with two 3.2-GHz cell processors can cost up to $8k, while two Sony PS3s cost approximately $600. Though a single 3.2-GHz cell processor can deliver over 200 GFLOPS, whereas the Sony PS3 configuration delivers approximately 150 GFLOPS, the approximately tenfold cost difference per GFLOP makes the Sony PS3 the only viable technology for HPC applications.

In laymen's terms, they can get three quarters the processing power from a PS3 than they can with two other chips, for less than 8% of the cost. That makes it a sound business decision for the research team, but Sony would certainly get the shaft. The Air Force is not going to buy the games that would make 2,200 purchases even close to being profitable for the console manufacturer. If I were Sony, I would try to put the kibosh on this right away. Of course, I can hear the current shill on their commercials really running with the PR: "Sony PlayStations can indeed do everything, even build supercomputers for the United States Air Force!"

The technology is interesting. Putting that many consoles into an array in order to maximize computing power is pretty cool, and, from their perspective, they are being smart with their money. But it seems like the brains behind it need to think about the politics and the economics of the situation a little more. The only reason these consoles are cheap is to sell games and if an entity of the US government snatches them up to create a super-computer Skynet, then the games industry is in trouble.

Also, the machines will rise.

Source: The Standard

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This convinces me that the PS3 was never supposed to be a public product, but was leaked to the public and the military just rolled with it to avoid suspicion.

That'll be money Sony never get back then.

And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

wow this good PR for Sony at least its helping FBI and Air force

the ps3 can do everything

Yeah, sure the Air Force won't use these to play games or blu-ray movies.

Just like they needed all those thousands of HDTVs for "improved tactical planning and communications" and totally not so that every junior officer could watch LOST in high definition.

Either way, those guys deserve some good gaming, they have a hell of a difficult and dangerous job.

That noise, that was the ps3 fan boys bragging to their xbox360 fanboy friends about how much better their consol is.

Woodsey:
And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

The Cell is an IBM processor. It's one of the older ones, not the ones found in the Blue Gene/Roadrunner supercomputers, but it's still got plenty of grunt for that sort of thing.

I can't help but feel that the price drop is actually going to end up harming Sony in the long term because of bulk purchases like this, where the interest is the hardware alone.

MAG tournament on release day.

Brought to you by the USAF

Woodsey:
That'll be money Sony never get back then.

And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

Actually, the PS3 does have an IBM processor in it. Sony worked with IBM when making the processor. 2 PS3s hooked together have the 50 percent more processing power than one state of art processor. The current reference supercomputer is 8,000 dollars.

The interesting one is the FBI uses the PS3 as the way to look for sex offenders. DHS is planning on using them for a safe subnetwork. Another one is the university of Stanford is using 900,000 PS3 left in standby to complete research on protein folding.

The PS3 is made of awesome!

Guess Carter needed them for the stargate's dialing program...

Jokes aside this is pretty interesting.

Percutio:
MAG tournament on release day.

Brought to you by the USAF

why the hell would they do that?
they are the AIR FORCE and MAG don't got player-jets.
an Ace comabt tourney might make sense, BUT then again, AC6 is only on 360...
...maybe warhawk?

Doesn't ripping up a console for it's parts violate the ToS of ownership somehow? I don't know but it sounds a lot like using the parts in the same capacity as modders. What kind of legal backlash you can hit a mod user with is another matter.

dalek sec:
Guess Carter needed them for the stargate's dialing program...

Jokes aside this is pretty interesting.

Stargate reference +50 awesome points

open trap:
That noise, that was the ps3 fan boys bragging to their xbox360 fanboy friends about how much better their consol is.

And the sound is like nails on... A particularly annoying surface.

RAKtheUndead:

Woodsey:
And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

The Cell is an IBM processor. It's one of the older ones, not the ones found in the Blue Gene/Roadrunner supercomputers, but it's still got plenty of grunt for that sort of thing.

malestrithe:

Woodsey:
That'll be money Sony never get back then.

And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

Actually, the PS3 does have an IBM processor in it. Sony worked with IBM when making the processor. 2 PS3s hooked together have the 50 percent more processing power than one state of art processor. The current reference supercomputer is 8,000 dollars.

The interesting one is the FBI uses the PS3 as the way to look for sex offenders. DHS is planning on using them for a safe subnetwork. Another one is the university of Stanford is using 900,000 PS3 left in standby to complete research on protein folding.

The PS3 is made of awesome!

Fair play then. Still, a newer version would of made sense to me but I guess it's all money, money, money.

Well somebody had to buy them....

I jest, but that is pretty cool that they are proving so useful.

Sony are really appealing to the non gamer market, alright.

open trap:
That noise, that was the ps3 fan boys bragging to their xbox360 fanboy friends about how much better their consol is.

My thoughts exactly. More fuel for the console wars.

Starke:
I can't help but feel that the price drop is actually going to end up harming Sony in the long term because of bulk purchases like this, where the interest is the hardware alone.

The problem is that Sony couldn't have possibly seen this coming. They expect the public to buy it as a super home-entertainment device, not for the military to buy the system and only the system.

Actually, the Air Force has been using video games for the past decade to train their pilots. Same thing with the Army (a la America's Army). The reason for this is, as explained to me by a veteran, is because it costs 6 figures everytime the military wants to do a training mission, while it's relatively inexpensive to train their troops using 3D modelling on game consoles.

They have found troops that play more video games have higher shooting accuracy than those who don't. Makes sense to me, and if it keeps the military budget low, I'm all for it.

So, while the Air Force might be using PS3s for a super computer array, they are still using the console and the games developed for it to train their troops. It's a win-win situation for the government and the gaming industry.

That's just their cover story. I guarantee that within the week, LRR is going to get an e-mail that reads "yeah, well I have 2,200 PS3s, eat that 3 PS3 guy!"

I say sell them 2,000 copies of LittleBigplanet and Metal Gear Solid 4 as well and Sony will make quite a profit.

Can you say massive Lan parties? :D

now thats weird news..
wait a minute ps3s are designed to play games on not to handle massive data! i smell probleemss on the waaay

Note the term super computer is vastly updated as it covered anything running a cpu faster than 300 mhz and up. So a PSP is a "super"computer.

Like how all things that shoot quickly are machine guns to the media.

AWAR:
now thats weird news..
wait a minute ps3s are designed to play games on not to handle massive data! i smell probleemss on the waaay

actually they are, most consoles now are really just computers. Also IIRC when the military or government makes a purchase that would normally not result in profit for the company they buy from they pay more. So Sony should be gaining money for this.

I heard the Airforce was going to connect 2,200 360's together, but changed their mind when they realized they already had devices that could achieve the capabilities of so many 360's running at once...a nuclear bomb.

I like how first military technologies are adapted to entertainment, (like the internet), and then entertainment technologies are adapted to the military.

Theres only two people whom are hurt by this:

Sony if they are selling them at a loss

The US Military if they find the devices they receive have lower quality components.

Not that Im saying that will happen either way mind you

At that kind of volume, I imagine its a special order that had to be placed directly to Sony. I also imagine that the price would be adjusted. Even if the price for ALL the components in the PS3 were adjusted to even or a slight profit, you wouldn't be looking at a $8,000 price tag.

This seems to be a trend.

Sony should take advantage of this in their marketing.

I like statement-lists.

Huh. I'm just wondering how they managed explaining this to their Colonel.

Seems like everybody but gaming companies can find a use for the PS3.

Oh snap.

NOTE:
Before fanboy vitriol comes spewing my direction, consider this - it's a joke and I play the PS3 every now and then.

I kept telling myself that the PS3 was always cheap. 8 cores at 3.0 GHz at $600 was cheap. On release day. Which would have been around $10,000 to have a quad core back in 2006.

Woodsey:
That'll be money Sony never get back then.

And I know it's cheaper, but getting something like an IBM processor would surely be better.

Depends on what you are doing with it. The cell processor happens to excel at some functions that are very useful.

Saddly US Submarines might even grab such a upgrade. Many 80-90's subs had old 80's targeting computers the size of a desk let alone a desktop. When I left then Navy we replaced most our pc's with off the shelf Pc's from bestbuy and loaded a hybrid unix on them.

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