AfterDawn: Tech news

PS3 supercomputer up and running

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 27 Mar 2011 18:25 User comments (17)

PS3 supercomputer up and running Rome Research Lab completed construction of, and is using, a "supercomputer" composed of off-the-shelf PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles.
The lab linked together 1,716 PS3 consoles and exploited the OtherOS functionality (I guess they didn't update then) to build what they are describing as one of the world's fastest and cheapest supercomputers. They claim it is in the top 40 most powerful supercomputers.

Dubbed, The Condor, the system is intended to provide analysts with new levels of detail from pictures gathered from spy planes. It is part of military developments aiming to achieve constant and detailed surveillance over a wide area.

The Condor will enable 24-hour real-time surveillance of a roughly 15 mile-wide area, allowing video processed from radar signals to be viewed in real-time or played back. Such a system can help to investigate the moments before an event such as an explosion or an ambush on military units.

"You can literally rewind or predict forward (in the future), based on the information you have," Mark Barnell, director of high-performance computing at the Rome research lab, said.

The project was started when Richard W. Linderman, then senior scientist at Rome's Air Force research lab, bought a PS3 and played around with OtherOS at home. Out of curiosity, he told his research team to attempt linking eight of the Sony console's together, and was impressed with the result. So then he decided to get 336 and see how that would work out.

Eventually, the project secured $2.5 million from the Department of Defense to assemble the supercomputer. In the end they ended up with a system of 1,716 PS3 consoles interconnected. An equivalent system built by other means would cost easily ten times more. It also uses a fraction of the energy consumed by other supercomputers, and groups of consoles can be turned off easily when they are not required.

Along with ground images being processed by the U.S. Air Force using the Condor system, it has also been used to process ground-based images taken of objects in space. For example, it snapped pictures of the space shuttle orbiting earth at 5 miles per second, taken from the ground. While other systems produce a blur for the shuttle, the Condor processed a sharp and detailed image, where it was easy to see that the payload doors were open, for example.

While this does show how the PS3 can be used for a lot more than gaming, Sony might not be as delighted as one would think about this application. Considering the team started amassing PS3s off the shelves back in 2006 when the PS3 was fresh from the oven, and costing up to $600 a unit, the Condor probably represents quite a loss for Sony, which would have paid much more than the retail price of the console just to make it. The money is made back through the sale of video games for the platform, for which Sony receives royalties.

This fact has been considered as a major reason why Sony decided to kill off OtherOS.

Tags: Sony PS3

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17 user comments

127.3.2011 20:23

What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?

227.3.2011 20:44

Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
Haha, they explioted the OtherOS. Take that, Sony!

Chance prepares the favored mind. Look up once in a while and you might learn something. - BLUEBOY

327.3.2011 22:51
phgjjk
Unverified new user

Originally posted by blueboy09:
Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
Haha, they explioted the OtherOS. Take that, Sony!
moron those consoles are old idiot they havent updated the firmware idiot.

427.3.2011 23:26
sonyyoco
Unverified new user

Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
DUMB^

527.3.2011 23:28
sonyyoco
Unverified new user

Originally posted by blueboy09:
Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
Haha, they explioted the OtherOS. Take that, Sony!
& dUMBER^

628.3.2011 1:29

Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
Of course not. Why would they ever sue a company that is providing good publicity for them? Hell, Sony probably even gave them the PS3s at discount or free for a write off. It is kind of dick that all this is happening parallel with the Geohot case.

728.3.2011 1:46

Originally posted by plissken13x:
Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
It is kind of dick that all this is happening parallel with the Geohot case.
Can't disagree on the last paragraph it certainly seems like a bad joke even more so when i assume sony's own eula doesn't allow running anything it wasn't intended for

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828.3.2011 4:52

WOW! This news is from like NOVEMBER 2010! Slow day, AfterDawn? ;-)

928.3.2011 4:58

Originally posted by plissken13x:
...Sony probably even gave them the PS3s at discount or free for a write off.

Actually, they were mostly the 160GB Uncharted bundle models that were sourced by those who set up the cluster. I wonder what they did w/ all those NFR copies of Uncharted, though?

BTW, it's also 2016 PS3s total...they had a cluster of 300 before and added the mentioned 1716 last November.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Mar 2011 @ 5:04

1028.3.2011 8:57

Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
WOW! This news is from like NOVEMBER 2010! Slow day, AfterDawn? ;-)
lol, nice one there. Sony deserves this if you ask me.

1128.3.2011 10:55

Bah whatas the small use of it by any business, they need to sue to keep the general public in line!Update those systems or we are taking them back by force!


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

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1228.3.2011 11:06

what are they gonna do when 716 of the PS3's YLOD lmao


YRazor

1328.3.2011 13:59
bd
Unverified new user

Sure Let make assumptions as to what the real reason is for doing this. This news was issued in 2006. SOny did not remove the other OS till 2009. In fact because the US military dose not want there enemies utalizing this tech they probably "asked" sony to remove the OtherOS.

1428.3.2011 19:11

Originally posted by bd:
Sure Let make assumptions as to what the real reason is for doing this. This news was issued in 2006. SOny did not remove the other OS till 2009. In fact because the US military dose not want there enemies utalizing this tech they probably "asked" sony to remove the OtherOS.
That is the most ridiculous claim I ever heard. If the military did not want the platform to be copied they would not have used a public system period. This cluster system from what I read is more like a military pet project.

1528.3.2011 19:15

Originally posted by scorpNZ:
Originally posted by plissken13x:
Originally posted by shortybob:
What are you gonna do now, Sony? Sue them? Effing do it! What, are you afraid of someone that can defend themselves?
It is kind of dick that all this is happening parallel with the Geohot case.
Can't disagree on the last paragraph it certainly seems like a bad joke even more so when i assume sony's own eula doesn't allow running anything it wasn't intended for
You can run anything you want. As long as you don't update the firmware. The choice was either OtherOS or PSN. How is it that people are referencing the geohot case? People who stayed at lower fw are not the ones Sony is after. They want the people who modify the firmware, which happens to encompass people who sneak into the psn, cheat and steal games.

161.4.2011 14:52

That would be so funny if someone at the lab decided to update the firmware.

172.4.2011 8:45

Originally posted by YRazor:
what are they gonna do when 716 of the PS3's YLOD lmao
Yknow, heh, that thought occurred to me.

Do you think those guys would have made that investment and not grabbed those keys as soon as they were released on the net?

Yeah sure, *cough cough*, all our ps3's are old models.... which we would never replace should they brick *cough cough*.

10 to 1 the mobos aren't even in the original cases anymore. :)


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EDIT: I just remembered arguing with some dude here recently about the value of doing this. He stated emphatically that it would be a utter waste of time and money to make a PS3 cluster on any scale. Well if you're out there buddy.... suck on it. :D

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This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 02 Apr 2011 @ 9:04

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


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