Cobbling together supercomputing clusters from commodity hardware isn’t new, but it may prove to be a smart call for spending taxpayer money on a new U.S. Air Force supercomputer. The idea is an expansion of an existing cluster created from IBM Cell-powered Sony PlayStation3 game consoles, and when it’s done, could result in researchers having created one of the world’s fastest supercomputers on the cheap. CIO Update has the story.
The U.S. Air Force is in the process of building a 500 teraFLOPS supercomputer that will only cost $2 million. Impossible, you say? Not when you build it with PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles.
The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., have already built a cluster with 336 Sony PS3s and are beefing that up by another 1,700. The group received a $2 million grant to increase the cluster of $300 consoles, plus some other hardware to control the cluster.
The Air Force plans to have the 1,700 consoles fully integrated into the system by June as part of the Department of Defense’s High Performance Computer Modernization Program. Once it’s finished, the supercomputing cluster should be able to deliver approximately 500 teraFLOPS of computing performance; enough to land it a spot among the top ten most-powerful supercomputers today, as ranked by the closely watched Top500 project.