PS3 Supercomputer Opened to University Reseachers

PS3 Supercomputer Opened to University Reseachers

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The U.S. Air Force has opened its PlayStation 3-based supercomputer for use in university research projects including the development of "artificial neural networks," which sounds suspiciously like a fancy term for Skynet.

The USAF finished work on the Condor Cluster, its PS3-based supercomputer, back in December 2010. Ranked among the 40 fastest computers in the world, Condor is made up of 1716 PlayStation 3 consoles, 168 general-purpose GPUs and 78 compute servers powered by 2.67 GHz Intel Xenon processors. It was built for roughly one-tenth the cost of a traditional supercomputer and yet uses about one-tenth of the power as well, making it a truly remarkable machine.

Initially used exclusively by the Air Force to analyze spy plane images and other data, the machine has now been made available to various universities for other research purposes. Among them is the University of Dayton in Ohio, which is currently working on the creation of artificial neural networks. The project is focused primarily on two algorithms, one using traditional neural networks and the other using a more "biological" approach meant to model synapses in the human brain. That's something the PlayStation 3 is particularly well-suited to handle, according to Tarek Taha, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university. "The PS3's Cell processor handles a lot of parallelism, like neurons in a brain," Taha said.

And where might this research ultimately lead? Taha said the technology could one day be incorporated into unammed aerial vehicles, allowing them to carry their own powerful, low-energy supercomputers rather than having to cope with bandwidth limitations to and from the aircraft. The unsaid but obvious implication is that this would allow UAVs to recognize, identify and engage targets without the need for human intervention, and of course what could possibly go wrong with that?

While we wait for that nightmare scenario to unfold, University of Massachusetts Assistant Professor of Physics Gaurav Khanna, one of the few researchers who has already been given access to the Condor Cluster, is assisting the Air Force Research Laboratory with the development of benchmarking software that it hopes will verify once and for all the Condor's claim as one of the world's fastest supercomputers. It's not expected to take back the number-one spot claimed in November 2010 by China's Tianhe-1A, but its innovative use of consumer electronics may prove to be "a catalyst in the world of high-performance computing."

Khanna, who has used roughly 300 PS3s in the cluster in his research on gravitational waves, also praised the Sony-based system for its impressive durability. "They've been running almost continuously for four years now and it's a non-ideal environment. It's a lab, there are students," he said, adding that none of the machines in the cluster have needed replacing.

The AFRL says it will put out a paper outline the results of its Condor Cluster research in June.

Source: GovTech.com

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Don't worry this version of Skynet can't hurt us.
'Cause PSN's still down.

To be fair, I know my joke is stupid. I'm just a little annoyed at the lack of PSN.

Anonymous just found it's next target!

Hope their PS3s don't brick cause they can't replace them now that Sony took away other OS capability.

Why dose the US air force have a PS£ based super computer? i get the super computer part but PS3 based?

robotam:
Don't worry this version of Skynet can't hurt us.
'Cause PSN's still down.

Hear hear. Irritated also.

(btw they aren't using the ps3s OS for obvious reasons, they are using them because of their CELL preprocessor which is apparently much cheaper to find in the ps3 than anywhere else)
will have to take my word for it though, as I can't find my source anymore, this is actually really, really old news)

They use PS3-based supercomputers? Man, gotta love US.

That's awesome. Now all they need to do is make a "I have 300 PS3s" video.

Awesome... I'm actually doing a thesis about neural networks on GPUs...

Bling1907:
They use PS3-based supercomputers? Man, gotta love US.

"gotta love the US" >implies that designing one of the 40 best supercomputers in the world for 1/10th the standard cost of a supercomputer, while using 1/10th the standard power of a supercomputer is somehow a bad thing.

EDIT: My apologies if I read sarcasm where there wasn't any. Difficult to tell online, sometimes.

Take that XBox...?
Never thought I'd hear someone say they've made a supercomputer out of 300 PS3s but, hey, there you go.

Trekkie:
Why dose the US air force have a PS£ based super computer? i get the super computer part but PS3 based?

PS3s are sold at a loss. They're optimised heavily.

mireko:
That's awesome. Now all they need to do is make a "I have 300 PS3s" video.

actually

Andy Chalk:
Condor is made up of 1716 PlayStation 3 consoles, 168 general-purpose GPUs and 78 compute servers powered by 2.67 GHz Intel Xenon processors.[/a]

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How did they make them work without the homebrewing ability?

Wait..Why is this legal in the first place?

Skynet eh? I always thought that it would be Apple involved with that.

I for one welcome our robotic overlords.

IIRC I read this article a couple of months back that said that when Sony removed the option to install another OS in the PS3 they also pretty much ruined this project, or one very similar, since if a machine now breaks down they can't get a new one with the old software on it. Unless they hack them of course.

Popido:
How did they make them work without the homebrewing ability?

Wait..Why is this legal in the first place?

Because Sony has said already that you can do whatever you want with a PS3 provided you don't use it to connect to the PSN.

ThisIsSnake:

Popido:
How did they make them work without the homebrewing ability?

Wait..Why is this legal in the first place?

Because Sony has said already that you can do whatever you want with a PS3 provided you don't use it to connect to the PSN.

Yep, I believe the quote went something along the lines of 'If you don't like losing homebrew support, don't update it.'

They must of taken to eBay, considering only "phat" PS3's can be used. These are the only people who can generally be unhappy about the lack of OtherOS.

Popido:
How did they make them work without the homebrewing ability?

Wait..Why is this legal in the first place?

They started doing this before OtherOS was removed. I hadn't realized quite how many devices were in it, but I knew it was happening. Given that the PS3 is a loss leader, they probably cost Sony around $200,000, considering they'll never buy games or blu-ray discs for them. It's clusters like this and numbers like that which lend credence to the claim (being made in the class-action suit against Sony regarding OtherOS) that they took it away for monetary reasons. Another plausible explanation that involves money is that IBM leaned on Sony to stop selling Cell blades at a loss because they were taking business away from IBM.

until the FW update get,s installed!

Ajna:

Bling1907:
They use PS3-based supercomputers? Man, gotta love US.

"gotta love the US" >implies that designing one of the 40 best supercomputers in the world for 1/10th the standard cost of a supercomputer, while using 1/10th the standard power of a supercomputer is somehow a bad thing.

I dunno, I read that as genuine.

Trekkie:
Why dose the US air force have a PS£ based super computer? i get the super computer part but PS3 based?

Because the PS3 id a €500 console consisting of a €450 cpu(that was originally meant for super computers anyway) and some parts ripped out of a PS2. And they used to be able to run linux, which most high end CPU's don't. And sony sold them at a discount for free publicity.

And the only reason this thing exists in the first place is because the USAF is incredibly slow with new technology anyway and is the only serious supercomputer left among record attempts and university publicity projects while everybody sensible has moved on to cloud computing.

yes, but can it play ps2 games?!

Ah crap, well it was only a matter of time.

Coincidentally I'm playing portal 2 at this moment in time.

Fronzel:
Hope their PS3s don't brick cause they can't replace them now that Sony took away other OS capability.

I have a feeling they don't use other OS for government research. It would be too much of a hassle, as it would still have to use 1 core to run background Playstation services. My guess would be they're using their own custom built OS and override the PS firmware somehow.

I don't know why people are so surprised that they're using PS3's as a supercomputer. This was news 4 years ago when the project started. That and the Cell Processor is a beast.

I feel like this entire post and the existence of this cluster is in retaliation to all the 360 fanboys. Especially considering the disproportionate number of them posting in the stories on the PSN troubles. Can your console be used to make one of the world's best Supercomputers at a fraction of the cost? No?

Sorry, I'm just trolling the trolls. Ignore me.

Anyway, this is pretty cool. I was aware of this system's existence, but I didn't realize that they had so many consoles (I thought it was only 300) or that it was still running. I didn't know if they had to update or not. Is it possible they got permission from Sony to keep using the other OS? I can't see why they wouldn't. Sony already has the money from the sell. And its not like the US government is going to pirate games or anything.

JEESUS! Okay, I thought that they were going to wire together like around 400 or some odd hundred PS3s, but this is going to be interesting. I only hope that they don't have neurotoxin there. But please, install a morality core just in case.

Abandon4093:

Ajna:

Bling1907:
They use PS3-based supercomputers? Man, gotta love US.

"gotta love the US" >implies that designing one of the 40 best supercomputers in the world for 1/10th the standard cost of a supercomputer, while using 1/10th the standard power of a supercomputer is somehow a bad thing.

I dunno, I read that as genuine.

Well, shit. Now I feel like an asshole.

EDIT: A wild CAPTCHA appeared. AJNA used APATHY. It was supereffective!

Seriously, that was the first captcha I got since my pub-club membership ran out, how can people complain about it that much? 4chan requires one for every post, I rarely see bitching there. People need to complain less.

Fensfield:

ThisIsSnake:

Popido:
How did they make them work without the homebrewing ability?

Wait..Why is this legal in the first place?

Because Sony has said already that you can do whatever you want with a PS3 provided you don't use it to connect to the PSN.

Yep, I believe the quote went something along the lines of 'If you don't like losing homebrew support, don't update it.'

have fun suing the US air force sony.... my guess is they got permission to reprogram the OS and modify the consoles, but only after they pinky-swore to not pirate anything.

in any case its good to see the Military is preparing for the Skrymm release

Atheist.:

Fronzel:
Hope their PS3s don't brick cause they can't replace them now that Sony took away other OS capability.

I have a feeling they don't use other OS for government research. It would be too much of a hassle, as it would still have to use 1 core to run background Playstation services. My guess would be they're using their own custom built OS and override the PS firmware somehow.

Atheist.:
...override the PS firmware somehow.

Don't they know that those PS3s are the property of Sony, now and forever? They'll get sued!

Trekkie:
Why dose the US air force have a PS£ based super computer? i get the super computer part but PS3 based?

For the reasons listed in this post and the original report it links to. The PS3 brings a tremendous amount of power to bear for a relatively small price and harnessing them in this way resulted in a tremendously capable supercomputer at a small fraction of the cost of a "real" supercomputer. I suppose it's similar to distributed computing projects like [email protected], except that all the CPUs are locally based.

I'm not sure what got this project started - a stunt, an experiment, a dare - but the net result is absolutely no joke.

yes are opened for researchers
Used internally to analyze spy plane imagery and sift through mountains of text, the Condor Supercomputer has been used exclusively by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)natural adabas migration is solid solution for mainframes.

Now, the lab has opened up the supercomputer to universities to conduct research on predictive modeling, computational intelligence, parallel data searches and computational linguistics.

 

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