back to article US Air Force orders 2200 Sony PS3s

The US Air Force plans to buy a whopping 2200 PlayStation 3 games consoles which it will use to expand an existing PS3-based supercomputer. The current cluster of consoles contains 336 PS3s, each connected by their RJ45 ports to a common 24-port Gigabit Ethernet hub, Air Force online documentation states. The entire set-up …


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  1. Sulphur Man

    they'd better be the Phat one then

    No Linux support on a Slim.

    Slightly baffling why they'd choose to build a supercomputer in this way, considering the proven power/performance/price ratio of the latest data centres.

    Its just a load of flyboys LAN gaming, isnt it.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I hope they didn't order slims...

    or they could have egg on their faces!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Model number CECHP01

      I checked the documentation, the model they are buying is indeed the older "phat" PS3, 160gb model to be precise.

      But where are they going to find 2,200 no longer sold consoles? eBay?

      Or do Sony have a load in a warehouse they want rid of?

  3. Nicholas Platts

    That's a big order.

    I understood the latest PS3 revision won't run linux anymore. Do they get a special USAF version with linux enabled?

    And when they play Modern Warfare 2 will it make all the Brits look like Iraqis?

  4. Jim P

    Which PS3

    It'll be amazing to get a shipment of 2200 PS3s (newer "sexier" ones) only to find out you can't install a custom OS anymore. Call of Duty it is then...

  5. Big Bear

    I've seen this before...

    Linked to a big, spinny wheel thing with some exotic symbols and a few chevrons on it and a big shiny reflective watery like surface...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    If an auction for 2500+ PS3 controlers will turn up on eBay soon..?

    Also, I hope they disabled bluetooth / WiFi as that many devices will kick out enough EM radiation to make popcorn and fry eggs!

  7. SynnerCal

    Re: they'd better be the Phat one then

    "Slightly baffling why they'd choose to build a supercomputer in this way, considering the proven power/performance/price ratio of the latest data centres."

    Not baffling at all, the USAF aren't the only ones trying to use the power of the Cell processor for a supercomputer, heck even IBM are at it. As for the PPP ratio, have you tried getting a decent new system for the same price that the PS3 retails for? At best you're looking at lower speed x86 processors that get blown away by the floating point performance of the Cell. And I'm guessing that the PS3's will be able to stack quite nicely.

    If I'm being uncharitable then I'd say that this kind of makes Sony's decision to cost-cut and drop alternate OS support from the SlimPS3 as looking a little short sighted.

    1. Jason Ozolins

      Clusters of Linux PS3s == money pit for Sony

      If you buy a PS3 and don't buy any games, Sony foots the difference between the retail price and the manufacturing cost.

      Small wonder that people building clusters doesn't seem to have influenced their decision to drop alternate OS support from the newer models.

      Maybe you could unlock a Run Alternate OS achievement by buying twenty shiny new games for your PS3?

  8. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    sad-ish state of linux

    I reckon the flyboys be gaming'd be about right.

    That the latest comsumer PS3 won't run linux (as of End Nov 2009) is right but rumour has it that Sony are apparently beta-testing some 'academic dev' linux capable PS3. Rumour also has it that it's essentially the old 'fat' ps3. I don't know if the hypervisor is any the laxer, be good if it were, and be good if they put more features in the hypervisor (? access to the RSX chip) or get rid of it completely and free up the remaining SPE so you'd have the total 7 possible available. What the price tag is I do not know.

    As someone who is strongly anti-x86 (but pragmatic enough to acquiesce to use 'em, heck after all what else is there really?) I would strongly urge any support of any non-intel platform. It would be good for diversity.

    PS3 X'mas wish list

    1) ALL ps3's be linux capable

    2) More RAM

    3) Better hypervisor in every way. Expose more of the underlying hardware whilst mantaining the current level of 'ease' in mantaining the kernel port. I _will_ pay the price of a game for a better hypervisor.

    4) cheap expandable ps3 maybe?

    5) PS4 ??????

  9. phoenix

    Slim anyone

    They must have preordered from Sony ahead of the Slim's launch. I managed to get one too (not being a gamer and having one all ready) after I found out Sony were pulling the OS ability. The change of heart is not good for the science / education community which make large use of these boxes to learn about super parallelism.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    PS3's for work - woo hoo

    "It is unclear when then the US Air Force hopes to have its 2536-strong PS3 supercomputer up and running. Presumably it's after the squadies are done playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." - couldn't have put it better myself...

    Good on the enginneers and techies for getting this through their management...

    Wonder how I can get on a programme where you get to tinker about with a PS3 or convince my managers that we need PS3's in our crucial work...?

  11. Gordon Pryra

    I was disgusted to find

    That "Back Projection Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager formation"

    didn't work out to be somethung funny when you took the first letter of each word :(


    I mean WTF!!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Sony 1 MS 0

    Try doing that with the xbox360!

  13. Red Bren

    USAF sponsored by SONY?

    I thought Sony had discontinued hypervisor support for a guest O/S in the new PS3 console as it was too expensive to maintain. Or reading between the lines, SONY were no longer prepared to sell subsidised consoles that would never generate a profit from games.

    So is the USAF buying up surplus stock of older models or bidding on ebay for second hand consoles? Or have they done a deal with SONY for new consoles with an unrestricted hypervisor?

  14. leakyPC


    Some one had better tell them the new slim line models can't use linux.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    PS3s ?

    "Presumably it's after the squadies are done playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2"

    After completing the campaign in 6 hours, everyone knows the XBOX360 is the best console for online gameplay ! However, 2200 XBOX360s would require a new power station and ear defenders for staff...

  16. SuperTim
    Black Helicopters


    Surely the airforce would have "flyboys" not squaddies.

    Black copter....natch!

  17. Alastair 3


    A PS3 based supercomputer? really? isnt that a crap? This is the USAF right? the same USAF of Hiroshima / Nagasaki fame? dont they get a $suibillion budget?

    Regardless of that, it's all for shit anyway if they're using 'hubs'. Even a 2200 port hub wouldnt be THAT good..

  18. Anonymous Coward


    they did use 360's orignally, but microsoft have just banned them all for doing something useful with it...

    *sits back and waits for the hate*

  19. Dan Price


    "Its medal-bedecked chest" - That one made me chortle.

    RJ-45 isn't the Ethernet connector though. It might look like one, but if you tried using an RJ45 connector for networking computers you'd soon run into problems - mainly due the the fact it only has 2 wires in it...

  20. Pete 48

    The first calculation entry...

    'Exit Strategy'

    surely will all that power they should be able to figure that out now.

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