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PlayStation 3 cluster

playstation 3 cluster, playstation 3 clusters of personality
The considerable computing capability of the PlayStation 3's Cell microprocessors has raised interest in using multiple, networked PS3s for various tasks that require affordable high-performance computing1


  • 1 PS3 clusters
  • 2 Single PS3
  • 3 Medical research
  • 4 The decline of the PS3 cluster
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

PS3 clustersedit

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications had already built a cluster based on the PlayStation 22 Terra Soft Solutions has a version of Yellow Dog Linux for the PlayStation 3,3 and sells PS3s with Linux pre-installed,4 in single units, and 8 and 32 node clusters5 In addition, RapidMind is pushing their stream programming package for the PS36

On January 3, 2007, Dr Frank Mueller, Associate Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, clustered 8 PS3s Mueller commented that the 256 MB of system RAM is a limitation for this particular application, and is considering attempting to retrofit more RAM Software includes:Fedora Core 5 Linux ppc64, MPICH2, OpenMP v25, GNU Compiler Collection and CellSDK 11789

In Summer 2007, Gaurav Khanna, a professor in the Physics Department of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth independently built a message-passing based cluster using 8 PS3s running Fedora Linux This cluster was built with support from Sony Computer Entertainment and was the first such cluster that generated published scientific results Dubbed as the "PS3 Gravity Grid", this PS3 cluster performs astrophysical simulations of large supermassive black holes capturing smaller compact objects10 Khanna claims that the cluster's performance exceeds that of a 100+ Intel Xeon core based traditional Linux cluster on his simulations The PS3 Gravity Grid gathered significant media attention through 2007,1112 2008,1314 2009151617 and 20101819 Khanna also created a DIY website20 on how to build such clusters, accessible to the general public

In November 2010 the Air Force Research Laboratory created a powerful supercomputer by connecting together 1,760 Sony PS3s which include 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers in a parallel array capable of performing 500 trillion floating-point operations per second 500 TFLOPS21 As built the Condor Cluster was the 33rd largest supercomputer in the world and would be used to analyse high definition satellite imagery22

Single PS3edit

Even a single PS3 can be used to significantly accelerate some computations Marc Stevens, Arjen K Lenstra, and Benne de Weger have demonstrated using a single PS3 to perform an MD5 bruteforce in a few hours They say:"Essentially, a single PlayStation 3 performs like a cluster of 30 PCs at the price of only one" in November 200723

Medical researchedit

On March 22, 2007, SCE and Stanford University expanded the [email protected] project to the PS324 Along with thousands of PCs already joined over the Internet, PS3 owners are able to lend the computing power of their game systems to the study of improper protein folding and associated diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, and several forms of cancer The software was included as part of the 16 firmware update March 22, 2007, and can be set to run manually or automatically when the PS3 is idle through the Cross Media Bar The processed information is then sent back to project's central servers over the Internet Processing power from PS3 users is greatly contributing to the [email protected] project, and PS3s are third to both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs in terms of teraflops contributed25 As of March 2011, more than a million PS3 owners have allowed the [email protected] software to be run on their systems, with over 27,000 currently active, for a total of 81 petaFLOPS By comparison, the world's most powerful supercomputer as of November 2010, the Tianhe-IA has a peak performance of 256 petaFLOPS, or 2566 teraFLOPS26 The latest report stated that [email protected] has passed the 5 native petaFLOP mark, of which 767 teraFLOPS are supplied by PlayStation 3 clients

The Computational Biochemistry and Biophysics Lab in Barcelona has launched a distributed computing project called PS3GRID This project is expected to run sixteen times faster than an equivalent project on a standard PC Like most distributed computing projects, it is designed to run only when the computer is idle

eHiTS Lightning is the first virtual screening and molecular docking software for the PS327 It was released by SimBioSys28 as reported by Bio-IT World in July 200829 This application runs up to 30x faster on a single PS3 than on a regular single CPU PC, and it also runs on PS3 clusters, achieving screening of huge chemical compound libraries in a matter of hours or days rather than weeks, which used to be the standard expectation

The decline of the PS3 clusteredit

On March 28, 2010, Sony announced it would be disabling the ability to run other operating system with the v321 update, due to security concerns about OtherOS30 This update would not affect any existing supercomputing clusters, due to the fact that they are not connected to PSN and would not be forced to update However, it would make replacing the individual consoles that compose the clusters very difficult if not impossible, since any newer models with the v321 or higher would not support Linux installation directly31 This caused the end of the PS3's common use for clustered computing, though there are projects like "The Condor" that were still being created with older PS3 units, and have come online after the April 1, 2010 update was released32


  1. ^ "Building Supercomputer Using Playstation 3" Console Watchercom 2006-08-28 Retrieved 2006-08-28 
  2. ^ "Scientific Computing on the Sony PlayStation 2" NCSA 
  3. ^ "Terra Soft to Provide Linux for PLAYSTATION 3" Terra Soft 
  4. ^ "Linux pre-installed on PS3" Terra Soft 
  5. ^ "Linux clusters" Terra Soft Archived from the original on May 27, 2007 Retrieved 2007-06-05 
  6. ^ "RapidMind and Terra Soft partner to unleash PlayStation 3 for Linux" RapidMind 
  7. ^ "Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster" PhysOrgcom 
  8. ^ "NC State Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster" College of Engineering, North Carolina State University 
  9. ^ "Sony PS3 Cluster IBM Cell BE" Frank Mueller, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, North Carolina State University 
  10. ^ "PS3 Gravity Grid" Gaurav Khanna, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 
  11. ^ "Astrophysicist Replaces Supercomputer with Eight PlayStation 3s" Wired 2007-10-17 
  12. ^ "PS3 cluster creates homemade, cheaper supercomputer" 
  13. ^ Highfield, Roger 2008-02-17 "Why scientists love games consoles" The Daily Telegraph London 
  14. ^ Peckham, Matt 2008-12-23 "Nothing Escapes the Pull of a PlayStation 3, Not Even a Black Hole" The Washington Post 
  15. ^ "Playstation 3 Consoles Tackle Black Hole Vibrations" 
  16. ^ "Playstation 3:A Discount Supercomputer" 
  17. ^ "The Supercomputer Goes Personal" 
  18. ^ "The PlayStation powered super-computer" BBC News 2010-09-04 
  19. ^ Farrell, John 2010-11-12 "Black Holes and Quantum Loops:More Than Just a Game" Forbes 
  20. ^ "PS3ClusterOrg" Gaurav Khanna, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 
  21. ^ "AFRL to hold ribbon cutting for Condor supercomputer" wwwwpafbafmil The Official Web Site of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 17 November 2010 Retrieved 2010-12-15 
  22. ^ Koff, Stephen November 30, 2010 "Defense Department discusses new Sony PlayStation supercomputer" blogclevelandcom Retrieved 2011-03-28 
  23. ^ "Nostradamus" Wintuenl Retrieved 2012-09-19 
  24. ^ "[email protected]" Sony Computer Entertainment Retrieved 2007-03-18 
  25. ^ "[email protected] - Client statistics by OS" Stanford University 
  26. ^ Electronista 2009-11-16 "TOP500 listing for Tianhe1A" top500org Retrieved 2010-04-09 
  27. ^ "The Cell/BE Technology Opens New Frontiers in Molecular Modeling" eHiTS Lightning
  28. ^ "eHiTS Lightning by SimBioSys, Inc" SimBioSys, Inc
  29. ^ "Bio-IT World, July 2008" Bio-IT World, July 2008
  30. ^ "PS3 Firmware v321 Update – PlayStation Blog" Blogusplaystationcom Retrieved 2012-09-19 
  31. ^ McElroy, Justin 2010-05-12 "Air Force disappointed by PS3's Other OS removal" Joystiq Retrieved 2012-09-19 
  32. ^ Dave Tobin, The Post-Standard "Rome Lab's supercomputer is made up of 1,700 off-the-shelf PlayStation 3 gaming consoles" syracusecom Retrieved 2012-09-19 

External linksedit

  • eHiTS Lightning
  • Computational Biochemistry and Biophysics Lab

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