U.S. builds supercomputer with game units

Nov. 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM
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CLEVELAND, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force used 1,760 Sony Playstation 3 video game consoles to create a supercomputer at about a tenth the normal cost for such a setup, officials say.

Named the Condor Cluster and to be unveiled Wednesday, it's the fastest interactive computer the Defense Department has, the Air Force said.

Researchers under the command of Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, harnessed the computing power of off-the-shelf PlayStation 3 consoles linked to more traditional graphical processing computer components, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

The Condor Cluster can be used to solve image-matching problems and assist in surveillance situations, using radar enhancement and pattern recognition capabilities, the Air Force said.

The total cost of $2 million is about 10 to 20 times cheaper than what a tradition supercomputer system would cost, Air Force officials said.

Harnessing video gaming technology for super computing may seem unusual but "unusual is a relative term," said Larry Merkle, assistant chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Wright State University.

Video game consoles were developed with cutting-edge graphics capabilities and the ability to handle extensive numerical computations, he said.

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