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New PS3 Condor Supercomputer is Now Fully Online


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187w ago - Consisting of 1,716 PlayStation 3 consoles linked together and utilizing OtherOS, the Rome Research Lab has announced the completion of their new PS3 Condor Supercomputer, which is now fully online and claimed to be in the top 40 most powerful supercomputers.

Currently it is being loaned out to universities so they can crunch slightly less dangerous data, and the system is also intended to provide analysts with new levels of detail from pictures gathered from spy planes.

The Condor will enable 24-hour real-time surveillance of a roughly 15 mile-wide area, allowing video processed from radar signals to be viewed in real-time or played back.

Such a system can help to investigate the moments before an event such as an explosion or an ambush on military units. It is part of military developments aiming to achieve constant and detailed surveillance over a wide area.

To quote from HotHardware.com (linked above): With 7 SPE's per PS3 (the eighth is deactivated), the 1,716 systems offer a total of 12,012 processors.

The Condor is, according to the Air Force, one of the forty fastest computers in the world and will hopefully solve a pervasive problem for the modern military. Up until the last sixty years, the various branches of the military all suffered from a dearth of aerial data.

Thanks to modern satellite communications and covert ops, the drought has become a glut. Getting information has suddenly become easy; determining at a glance what's important and what isn't has become extremely difficult.

The Air Force hopes to use the PS3 cluster to allow for real-time surveillance over large areas without sacrificing image quality. According to Mike Barnell, director of HPC at the Rome Research Lab, Condor will be able to keep 24/7 watch over a 15 square mile area. User control will be unprecedented; Condor's users will reportedly be able to turn and rotate the camera in a manner reminiscent of modern gaming. "You can literally rewind or predict forward (in the future), based on the information you have," Barnell said.

What became the Condor project began with just eight PS3s. Impressive results led to official approval for a larger cluster of 336 systems. Once the Department of Defense approved $2.5 in funding for Condor, the Rome Lab bought as many systems as it could then afford–a total of 1700.

Barnell notes that an equivalent supercomputer would've cost his team at least 10x as much and claims that using off-the-shelf hardware allows for substantial power savings. When the machine's full capacity isn't needed, the lab can turn off hundreds of PS3s to reduce power consumption.




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Comments 24 Comments - Go to Forum Thread »

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barrybarryk's Avatar
#24 - barrybarryk - 187w ago
its for cpu intensive tasks like rendering (or in this case near real time image processing). The cell is a monster for tasks like this in linux as all spe's are idling just waiting for something to do. clustering many ps3's together means more spes to spread the work load around and hence reduce processing time and if there is less demand you can just disconnect a few ps3's to save power.

It's exactly the kind of operation the cell was designed for and why linux on the ps3 is actually a big deal.

crazelunatic's Avatar
#23 - crazelunatic - 187w ago
can someone explain in laymen's terms how clustering machines together would increase operational capability? for instance what can you get out of combining the same exact hardware thousands of times over instead of upgrading hardware components.

xUb3rn00dlEx's Avatar
#22 - xUb3rn00dlEx - 187w ago
Does anyone know if it would be possible to add our own PS3s to that cluster through some kind of CFW link up? I doubt the USAF would reveal any info regarding it, but what do the experts think? Perhaps we could contact them and try to see just how much power we would be able to link up? I wonder whether if we set an event, would we make top 10?

PSPSwampy's Avatar
#21 - PSPSwampy - 187w ago
SKYNET may be fully aware, but i doubt very much that sony are. (At least they don't seem to have any awareness as to how to treat customers)

But that's a bit off topic - I'd love to see the close up of these PS3's with the JB in the usb slots! hahaha

You have to wonder how much their power consumption is - that many PS3's and the Airconditioning unit they'd need to keep them all from YLODing

aamir007's Avatar
#20 - aamir007 - 187w ago
That's a lot of PS3s and some hefty power, only if they were fully unlocked they'd have more potential. you never know.. Sony may have given them fully unlocked PS3s as its for research.

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