What’s the best use for 1700+ PS3′s? A supercomputer of course!
The USAF is the latest to join the list of those putting the vaunted IBM/Sony/Toshiba Cell processor found in the PS3 to a better use than gaming. After 5 years in the works, the Condor Supercomputer as the Air Force calls it, is now fully operational and being put to use. Claimed to be among the 40 fastest computers in the world and one of the cheapest to build. Essentially, 1,716 PlayStation 3 consoles were linked up together to create a computer “that’s very good at processing, manipulating and interpreting vast amounts of imagery.” The Rome Air Force Lab in New York which specializes in information technology is trying to help the military with the growing problem of being able to process and make sense of the sheer amount of visual and surveillance data pouring in from modern airborne surveillance systems. The goal is simple, to be able to process and manipulate more and more of the data coming in and in real time in order to be able to try and achieve the big brother ideal of constant surveillance and of course over continuously larger and larger areas.
Currently the Condor is apparently able to provide enough horse power for processing 24-hour, real-time surveillance imagery over a roughly 15-mile-wide area. “Video processed from the radar signals can be viewed in real time or played back to investigate what led to an event — an explosion, an uprising or an ambush. As with a video game, a viewer can change perspectives, going from air to ground to look around buildings.” says Dave Tobin from the Post-Standard. “To custom-build a supercomputer without using commercial off-the-shelf PlayStation 3s would likely have cost 10 times as much,” said Mark Barnell, director of high-performance computing at the Rome research lab. So it would seem, the Sony PlayStation 3′s aren’t as useless as some may have thought, all I ask is, how do the video games and Blu-rays run on this beast?