Government // Enterprise Architecture
News
11/20/2009
12:08 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Air Force To Expand PlayStation-Based Supercomputer

The cluster of PlayStation 3 consoles is already being used for research into high-def video processing and systems with brain-like properties.

The U.S. Air Force is looking to buy 2,200 Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles to build out a research supercomputer, according to an document posted on the federal government's procurement Web site.

The PlayStation 3s will be used at the Air Force Research Laboratory's information directorate in Rome, N.Y., where they will be added to an existing cluster of 336 PlayStation 3s being used to conduct supercomputing research.

The Air Force will use the system to "to determine the best fit for implementation of various applications," including commercial and internally developed software specific to the PS3's Cell Broadband Engine processor architecture. The research will help the Air Force decide where Cell Broadband Engine processor-derived hardware and software could be used in military systems.

The Air Force has used the cluster to test a method of processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and "neuromorphic computing," or building computers with brain-like properties.

The PlayStation 3's eight-processor Cell powers other supercomputers, including the world's second-fastest, IBM's RoadRunner, at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In June, the Department of Defense awarded $2 million for this research under its High Performance Computing Modernization Program, the DOD's arm for supercomputing research, development, test, and evaluation. That follows an initial investment of $118,000 on the original cluster.

Before it won the research award in 2008, the information directorate's advanced computing architectures team considered alternative configurations and the possibility of a hybrid system, but found multicore Xeon servers slower and more expensive than PS3s, and GPGPUs to be slower in some important types of calculations.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's information directorate spends about $700 million annually on R&D, in areas such as collaboration, networking, cybersecurity, and computer modeling.



Unified computing platforms promise to consolidate everything and anything into a single chassis. Find out about that and more in Network Computing's second all-digital issue. Download the issue here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014
Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.