Home >> Linux >> The Rise and Fall of the PlayStation Supercomputers

The Rise and Fall of the PlayStation Supercomputers

“On the 25th anniversary of the original Sony PlayStation, The Verge shares the story of the PlayStation supercomputers,” writes Slashdot reader jimminy_cricket. From the report: Dozens of PlayStation 3s sit in a refrigerated shipping container on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s campus, sucking up energy and investigating astrophysics. It’s a popular stop for tours trying to sell the school to prospective first-year students and their parents, and it’s one of the few living legacies of a weird science chapter in PlayStation’s history. Those squat boxes, hulking on entertainment systems or dust-covered in the back of a closet, were once coveted by researchers who used the consoles to build supercomputers. With the racks of machines, the scientists were suddenly capable of contemplating the physics of black holes, processing drone footage, or winning cryptography contests. It only lasted a few years before tech moved on, becoming smaller and more efficient. But for that short moment, some of the most powerful computers in the world could be hacked together with code, wire, and gaming consoles. “The game consoles entered the supercomputing scene in 2002 when Sony released a kit called Linux for the PlayStation 2,” reports The Verge. Craig Steffen, senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and his group hooked up between 60 and 70 PlayStation 2s, wrote some code, and built out a library.

“The PS3 entered the scene in late 2006 with powerful hardware and an easier way to load Linux onto the devices,” the report adds. “Researchers would still need to link the systems together, but suddenly, it was possible for them to imagine linking together all of those devices into something that was a game-changer instead of just a proof-of-concept prototype.”

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *