Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sony PlayStation 3 used to study black holes

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A group of scientists is using 16 PlayStation 3 sets courtesy of Sony to study the properties of gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes. Amazing! And I didn't know that a single PS3 performs better than the highest-end desktops available. From PlayStation3 Gravity Grid:
The Sony PlayStation 3 has a number of unique features that make it particularly suited for scientific computation. First, the PS3 is an open platform, which essentially means that one can run a different system software on it, for example PowerPC Linux. Next, it has a revolutionary processor called the Cell processor which was developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba. This processor has a main CPU (called the PPU) and several (six for the PS3) special compute engines (called SPUs) available for raw computation. Moreover, each SPU performs vector operations, which implies that they can compute on multiple data, in a single step. Finally, its incredibly low cost make it very attractive as a scientific computing node i.e. part of a cluster. In fact, its highly plausible that the raw computing power per dollar that the PS3 offers, is significantly higher than anything else on the market today!
(via Science Fair)

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