US Air Force Upgrading Playstation 3 Linux Cluster

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The US airforce is buying thousands of PS3s as part of a move to expand its supercomputing project, but there has been some speculation that the Cell chip used by the PS3 could be phased out

The US AirForce has revealed plans to purchase up to 2,200 PlayStation 3 games machines as part of a supercomputing project running on an in-house Linux distribution.

According to reports, the Air Force plans to use the devices to expand an existing supercomputing project based on PS3 hardware. The machines use IBM’s high-end Cell processor.

Details of how the PS3’s will be deployed specifically have not be revealed aside from the fact the system willl be used to “determine what software and hardware technologies are implemented [in] military systems”, reports state.

IBM’s Cell processor has become a key component in some high-end computers. It formed the basis of IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which until November was the fastest system in the world.

But earlier this month, German website Heise Online quoted an IBM executive as saying the company was halting development of the next-generation Cell. In the article, David Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM, was quoted as saying the next-generation PowerXCell 32i—aimed at supercomputers and the high-performance computing space—was being killed. The chip was to feature two PPEs (PowerPC Processor Elements) and 32 SPEs (Synergistic Processing Elements).

IBM has since refuted the claims, and released a statement on 24 November claiming the Cell processor has formed the foundation of their belief that the future of computing will rely on the integration of multicore and hybrid technologies.”IBM continues to invest in Cell technologies as part of this hybrid and multicore strategy, including in new Power7-based systems expected next year,” the statement read.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the GCHQ arm of Britain’s intelligence services is to run an advertising campaign within Xbox Live online games in order to attract suitable people to its ranks. The adverts will appear within Xbox Live online games which includes Assassin’s Creed, and the hugely popular Call of Duty series of games.

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