Sony PS3: A multipurpose supercomputer?
What does the PS3 mean to you? Just a gaming console? Think again! The power under the hood is immense. The PPU and the SPEs together make it a very powerful computing device. Stack up about 8 of them and voila! you get a supercomputer!
Haf a look at this screenshot:
(Thats our PS3 Cluster on which almost all the time I SSH to. Ah ha! Now I know where all the PS3s from our Library haf vanished! :P)
One of our labs at NCSU runs a cluster of 8 PS3s. How powerful is it? Well.. quite powerful for hundreds of NCSU students to remotely login and complete their assignments and projects on it, simultaneously! The cluster is connected to the main University network and hence sharing is a piece of cake. Its faaaast.. responsive and absolutely apt in such a scenario. The cluster runs 64-bit Fedora Core 5 over a hypervisor layer custom-developed by Sony. Fedora was an obvious choice considering the fact that Red Hat's Head Office is inside our University Campus! :P [OK, I know NCSU gets RHEL at very discounted prices :D] How much does the PS3 cluster cost? Hmmm.. not even a fraction of the cost of a normal supercomputer!
The fact that they are so powerful highlights that its architecture and design is simply miles ahead of today's processors. They are used everywhere - University computer clusters, scientific computing like Folding@Home and almost everywhere where "cheap" supercomputing is a requirement.
Interested in reading more about the PS3 and its architecture? Read this. This website tells more about NCSU's PS3 Cluster. The weird looking man in the pics there is Dr.Frank Mueller, our Operating Systems Instructor.