Researchers at the Air
Force Research Laboratory hope to have the improved cluster
available sometime in May or June. The USAF already has used
its current group of PS3s to help investigate Neuromorphic Computing,
High Definition Video image processing, and a "Back Projection
Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager."
"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," according to the USAF requisition form. "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
The AFRL has a $2M research
grant through the Department of Defense's High Performance Computing
Modernization Program, though it's unknown if any significant
breakthroughs have been found.
Specifically, the USAF is
expected to use customized software designed for use on the Cell
Broadband Engine architecture. Sony uses the Cell processor in
its PS3, a powerful computing technology that has been favored among
researchers -- the PS3 is already used by the Los Alamos National
Laboratory and U.S. Customs Enforcement.
The USAF continues to
expand its use of computer networks and cloud computing as it
develops new software technology that can be used both in the United
States and on the battlefields overseas.