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US Air Force builds super-computer out of PS3s

With 2 million dollars lying around, the US Air Force could have bought just under 15 Humvees, or built a super computer made of PlayStation 3s. They made the right choice. The ‘Condor Cluster’ is the USAF’s newest supercomputer, and is comprised of 168 separate graphical processing units, 84 coordinating servers and 1760 PlayStation 3s.

The system, located in Rome, New York, will be tasked as a research computer by Air Force branches and centers nation-wide. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) director of high power computing, Mark Barnell, boasts that the system costs only five to ten percent what an equivalent system built with off-the-shelf parts would cost. Not too shabby considering that the AFRL is calling the Condor Cluster the ‘fastest interactive computer in the entire Defense Department.’ Just how fast is that, you ask? 500 trillion floating point operations per second (500 TFLOPS) fast.

Defense engineers worked directly with Sony to acquire the PS3s (the older ‘fat’ models), avoiding the Slim as it precluded the installation of Linux as an operating system. This, of course, isn't the first super-computer to be built from consoles - the University of Illinois, for example, created a system capable of 500 billions operations per second by combining the power of 70 PS2s.

Dec 1, 2010

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26 comments

  • HoBoB12 - December 6, 2010 2:55 p.m.

    to all the people saying " oh they wasted a crap tonne of money wah wah wah" the reason is simply because the cell processor in the ps3 is the fastest, most powerful in the world, and sony being sony and not interested in microsoft utilising this processor would likely not sell it as a stand alone product, not to mention the fact that the only hardware build to support the cell exists solely in the ps3. So there you have it. Also for all you terminator fan boys out there yes, the cell bears a striking resemblence to the T-800 skynet chip lol :P
  • BoltActionRevolver - December 4, 2010 12:07 a.m.

    Burn on Sony though for removing the Other OS option! There goes some government contracts!
  • Csheroe - December 3, 2010 12:35 a.m.

    @atomicsandman This supercomputer costs about 25% less than others, and uses about 15% less energy. Schmuck.
  • Csheroe - December 3, 2010 12:33 a.m.

    I live 10 minutes from Rome. yay.
  • Overlord153 - December 3, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    Win for PS3 fanboys like myself. reCAPTCHA encourage tallews Yes we must encourage them to build super computers out of PS3
  • NinjaJamez - December 2, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    maybe with that kojima and yamauchi can make the game they want xD
  • atomicsandman - December 2, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    What an incredible waste of money from an already bankrupt country. Kudos to you USAF.
  • Rivenscry - December 2, 2010 1:59 p.m.

    Wasn't this already done ages ago? Not sure if it's the same thing, but still...
  • AnonymouZ - December 2, 2010 7:46 a.m.

    i knew tayls comment would come on... but by a ps3 user like meself... only to mention the fact that devs are just lazy fucks who like the easy way (not condoning the difficulty curve on new systems but... yeah) cuz if the ps3 wasn't awesome, it wouldn't be awesome.
  • ThatGamerDude - December 2, 2010 6:06 a.m.

    I'm completely amazed as to how people come up with crazy things but then again its the air force we're talking about and they kick ass! But this maybe a sign that Sony is trying to take over the world with ps3 powered supercomputers!
  • OddWoN ER - December 2, 2010 4:57 a.m.

    hey guys, the $2 million probs went into numerous other facets of developing the super-computer....
  • JMAN1156 - December 2, 2010 4:23 a.m.

    now imagine that they found a super good deal on REAL FUCKING COMPUTERS and got rid of all the useless shit that you don't need form the PS3 like BLUERAY for a FUCKING server. Then they really would have wasted tax dollars efficiently. The airforce doesn't need another god damn super computer.
  • Crabhand - December 2, 2010 3:46 a.m.

    @Tayls You are playing with fire, mister. On a related note, this is totally awesome.
  • Riche666 - December 2, 2010 2:19 a.m.

    @brickman409 The article also said they used 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers. Costs probably also allowed for a facility to house the machinery as well as other junk and stuff.......derp
  • Jackelsburg - December 2, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    i think i read something similar to this a while ago
  • acehard - December 2, 2010 2:03 a.m.

    @brickman ya that was pretty much one of the dumbest statements ive ever read
  • tayls - December 2, 2010 2:01 a.m.

    The PS3 is a fantastic machine. As long as you're not playing games on it. Let the flame war begin!!!
  • bass88 - December 2, 2010 1:19 a.m.

    Don't fuck with PS3 fanboys anymore. Next time they'll drop a bomb on your house.
  • RushofBlood17 - December 2, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    @brickman409: I am sure some of the money went to the 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers. Along with other miscellaneous things.
  • ACGUY - December 2, 2010 12:48 a.m.

    Playstation 3 also called SKYNET!

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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