AfterDawn: Glossary


The Condor is a supercomputer that is comprised of a massive collection of Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles.

When the PS3 console launched in 2006, a lot of attention was paid to its OtherOS feature which let a user install an alternative operating system on the console.

Considering the console has a very high-performance Cell processor at its heart, this feature added a new dimension to the device which was selling originally for a hefty $600 a pop.

Richard W. Linderman, then senior scientist at Rome's Air Force research lab, took a PS3 home and decided to check its OtherOS features out. Impressed, he told his team to connect eight consoles together and see what kind of performance they could pull from eight connected PS3. This eventually led to another test, with 336 consoles this time.

The group secured a $2.5 million budget from the Department of Defense to put together a supercomputer made completely out of PS3 consoles. They were literally bought from the shelf, 1,716 consoles in total.

Mark Barnell, director of high-performance computing at the Rome research lab, has commented that if it weren't made from PS3s, an equivalent system built would cost at least 10 times the amount that was paid for it.

The system was developed for use with the Air Force, and is capable of monitoring an area of approximately 15 kilometers, 24 hours a day, in staggering detail. It can process ground-based photos of objects in space in high detail.

One such example were pictures of the space shuttle as it flew overhead at 5 miles per second. The Condor system processed images so clear, details that previously couldn't be made out were shown.

Condor can also scan 20 pages of text per second in any language.


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