Sony's PlayStation 3 is becoming less and less of a gaming console with the introduction of all sorts of applications, but, recently, the platform has become even less of an entertainment system. Just last week, we saw that the PS3's Cell processor was being used by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center to crack secured, password-protected files considered vital evidence in the court of law. The console is also known for taking part in the Folding@home disease research project. Now, even the US Air Force is putting Sony's platform to an alternate use.
Information Week reports that the Air Force is adding a large amount of PS3s to its already existing 336 systems that are currently being used for supercomputing research. The current setup that is hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory's information directorate in Rome, New York will receive another 2,200 consoles to share their workload.
According to the military requisition form, the current system deployed by the Air Force was already used to research projects like Neuromorphic Computing, High Definition Video image processing and Back Projection Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager formation.
The additional 2,200 PS3s will be used to study other concepts, like Advanced Computing Architectures and High Performance Embedded Computing. The vital thing stated by the requisition form is that, while the Cell processor used by the PS3 isn't as powerful as other alternatives, it's by far the most cost-effective. "With respect to cell processors, a single 1U server configured with two 3.2GHz cell processors can cost up to $8K while two Sony PS3s cost approximately $600," the form states.
"Though a single 3.2 GHz cell processor can deliver over 200 gigaflops, whereas the Sony PS3 configuration delivers approximately 150 gigaflops, the approximately tenfold cost difference per gigaflops makes the Sony PS3 the only viable technology for [high performance computing] applications." With this, the list of things that the PS3 can do gets another check mark.