US AIR FORCE build Supercomputer from PS3 Consoles

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Named the Condor, it began as a project consisting of just 8 Ps3 concoles, and has culminated in a super computer made up of over 1700 PS3’s, linked and networked together. Owned and developed by the US Air Force, the Condor cluster is finally fully functional and online, ranking it in the top 40 computers in the world and the fastest US defense force computer ever. Condor will hopefully fill a gap in the US Air Forces Aerial Data (which is lacking), allowing unprecedented quality of real time playback and recording over areas spanning roughly 15sq miles. The system allows users complete control of rotation similar to that offered in modern FPS and strategy gaming. Interestingly the computer utilises the PS3’s OtherOS, a feature that has since been removed from Sony’s consoles despite the pleas and anger shown from many of its fanbase. One would assume they are using a linux based system for operations.

Mike Barnell, director of HPC at the Rome facillity in New York where the computer is housed explains that Condor cost 5-10% the cost of an equivalent system bought with over the counter parts. When it was designed PS3 consoles cost $400 each as opposed to the $10000 a unit for comparable parts. Another advantage is that it consumes only 10% the power of a similar system that could provide the same power. Powering along at a billion pixels per second the computer will provide much better image and pattern recogntion and due to the consoles capabilities can use advanced algorithms to better see fast moving blurry aerial objects.

It will be interesting to see Sonys response to a Government run agency utilising their technology and whether they hold any objections to it, especially as it uses features they have removed from their systems for whatever reasons they deem necessary.

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