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Air Force builds affordable supercomputer out of PS3s

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Super PS3

Maybe "it does everything," after all.

On Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Air Force unveiled the 'Condor Cluster', a supercomputer powered by 1,760 PS3 consoles.

So how fast is it? Created by the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, New York,
the massive system -- which operates at a peak of a whopping 500 teraflops --
is the 34th fastest supercomputer in the world and the fastest interactive
computer in the Defense Department. Officials also point out that it consumes
only one-tenth of the power of similar rigs, making it the sixth greenest
computer of its kind.

It's also pretty affordable. The PS3 consoles are exactly
the same ones you'd find at your local Best Buy, though these have been tweaked
to work in conjunction with over 150 high-performance graphics processors. Best
of all, the Condor costs only $2 million: a good 10-20 times cheaper than
comparable machines, officials say.

It isn't the first time the military has tapped a game
console to solve problems. The U.S. Army has tinkered with using Nintendo Wii
remotes to control bomb-defusing robots, while the U.S. Navy has considered implementing fitness video games into boot camp.

The Condor Cluster, however, will be primarily used for
artificial intelligence research, radar and image enhancement, and pattern
recognition, though we're hoping a few brave souls will fire up Gran Tursimo 5
or God of War III on this bad boy.


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