Air Force math: 2,000 PlayStation 3s = 1 supercomputer

Air Force builds a supercomputer with Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles

 What do you get when you put 2,000 Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles in one room? No, not a noisy hive of adolescents — OK, some adults, too — trying to set a world record for the biggest multiplayer game session.

Rather, that would be a bargain-priced supercomputer, like the one the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., is creating by stringing together a couple thousand of the extremely powerful $300 PS3s, reports Warren Peace of Stars and Stripes.

Adding in open-source Linux software and some commercial graphics processors, the Air Force’s PS3 cluster will come in at $2 to $3 per 1 billion floating point operations per second, or gigaflops, of processing power. Ten years ago, the University of Kentucky claimed a record by building a supercomputer that cost $640 per gigaflop.

The Air Force lab will use its system for target recognition applications, such as Back Projection Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager formation, high-definition video image processing, and neuromorphic computing, which mimics human nervous systems. Important stuff, for sure, but it doesn’t sound as much fun as scoring a touchdown against your buddy on "Madden NFL 10."

About the Author

John Zyskowski is a senior editor of Federal Computer Week. Follow him on Twitter: @ZyskowskiWriter.

2014 Rising Star Awards

Help us find the next generation of leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above