US Airforce builds supercomputer out of 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3s

The US Airforce saved a fair bit of cash by building a supercomputer made out of 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3, some high-end technology and a piece of number eight fencing wire (we made the bit about the fencing wire up).

Dubbed the Condor, the supercomputer was created at the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in New York State. The big idea was to build a cost effective and green alternative to a conventional supercomputer.

The computer is 50,000 times faster than the average consumer laptop and will rank as the 34th most powerful supercomputer in the world.

US Airforce backroom boffins will use the gear to handle tasks including artificial intelligence research, pattern recognition detection and the analysis of heavy quantities of images from surveillance systems.

Mark Barnell, director of AFRL’s High Power Computing said that the gear was cheap as chips to make and consumes less than a tenth of the power of comparable supercomputers,

It only cost the Airforce $2 million. A normal supercomputer with that level of power would be 10 to 20 times more.

He said his DIY supercomputer exceeds any other interactive supercomputer currently used by the Department of Defence.

There have been Playstation 3 hacks of this type before. The game consoles have the Cell BE chip to accelerate multimedia software. However, set up in a distributed network with some natty, normally Linux based software, the whole lot can turn into a super computer.