Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster

Date:
March 20, 2007
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
The Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), Xbox and Nintendo Wii have captivated a generation of computer gamers with bold graphics and rapid-fire animation. But these high-tech toys can do a lot more than just play games. At North Carolina State University, Dr. Frank Mueller imagined using the power of the new PS3 to create a high-powered computing environment for a fraction of the cost of the supercomputers on the market.

Using eight Sony Playstation 3 units, Dr. Frank Mueller built a supercomputing cluster capable of high-performance computing and running the latest in computer gaming.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

The Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), Xbox and Nintendo Wii have captivated a generation of computer gamers with bold graphics and rapid-fire animation. But these high-tech toys can do a lot more than just play games. At North Carolina State University, Dr. Frank Mueller imagined using the power of the new PS3 to create a high-powered computing environment for a fraction of the cost of the supercomputers on the market.

Mueller, an associate professor of computer science, has built a supercomputing cluster capable of both high-performance computing and running the latest in computer gaming. His cluster of eight PS3 machines – the first such academic cluster in the world – packs the power of a small supercomputer, but at a total cost of about $5,000, it costs less than some desktop computers that have only a fraction of the computing power.

“Clusters are not new to the computing world,” Mueller says. “Google, the stock market, automotive design companies and scientists use clusters, but this is the first academic computing cluster built from Playstation 3s.

“Scientific computing is just number crunching, which the PS3s are very good at given the Cell processor and deploying them in a cluster,” Mueller says. “Right now one limitation is the 256 megabyte RAM memory constraint, but it might be possible to retrofit more RAM. We just haven’t cracked the case and explored that option yet.” Another problem lies in limited speed for double-precision calculations required by scientific applications, but announcements for the next-generation Cell processor address this issue.

“In the computing world there is a list of the top 500 fastest computers,” Mueller says. Currently the fastest is BlueGene/L, a supercomputer with more than 130,000 processors at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The PS3 cluster at NC State does not break into the top 500, but Mueller estimates that with approximately 10,000 PS3 machines anyone could create the fastest computer in the world – albeit with limited single-precision capabilities and networking constraints.

The PS3 allows the Linux operating system to be installed, and IBM designed the programming environment for programming the Cell processor (including eight vectorization units), which combined tremendous computing power within a single PS3. According to Mueller, each PS3 unit contains six operational special-purpose cores for number crunching and one general-purpose core that is two-way multithreaded in his configuration, so the eight machines clustered have 64 logical processors, providing plenty of number-crunching ability in addition to running the latest games.

“Jan. 3 is the ‘birthdate’ of this cluster,” Mueller says. “Of course, here at NC State we will use it for educational purposes and for research. We are working with scientists to determine the needs and how our cluster can be used to their benefit, and our computer science faculty is already using the cluster to teach classes in operating systems, with parallel systems, compilers and gaming likely to follow.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070319205733.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2007, March 20). Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070319205733.htm
North Carolina State University. "Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070319205733.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microsoft Goes For Familiarity Over Novelty In Windows 10

Microsoft Goes For Familiarity Over Novelty In Windows 10

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) At a special event in San Francisco, Microsoft introduced its latest operating system, Windows 10, which combines key features from earlier versions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Apple released a security fix for the "Shellshock" vulnerability Monday, though it says only "advanced UNIX users" of OS X need it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins