BT

Cell Supercomputer at Home?

by Charlie Martin on Dec 29, 2008 |

Sony's PS3 may be losing the market share war, but it has other uses. Does somebody want a supercomputer at home? That can be done by clustering PS3s running Linux. And the PS3s can still play Prince of Persia.

It's been well-known for some time that it was possible to build a powerful clustered high-performance computer using the PS3. Recently, Gaurav Khanna and Chris Poulin of the University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth) published an on-line guide to building a high-powered compute cluster using Sony's PlayStation 3, taking advantage of the Cell processor normally used during game play for graphics calculations. The setup guide leads a user through three steps:

  • Preparing the boot image and disks from easily available files
  • Installing Fedora Core 8 and the Cell SDK
  • Setting up the high-performance message-passing interface and Cell SDK

Naturally, this isn't the usual home hobbyist's computer, although there are some known home PS3 clusters. What's more important is that by using a PS3 cluster, a very small investment can provide tremendous compute power to researchers. One of the authors (Khanna) estimates that his PS3 cluster with eight consoles — which cost about $4000 — provides comparable performance to a 200-node IBM Blue Gene system. Khanna is currently using a 16-node PS3 cluster in astrophysical simulation studies in the "Gravity Grid" project.

The MPI message-passing architecture used by the cluster is also open-source and widely-used, allowing researchers to build high-performance parallelized programs for simulation, graphics rendering, and financial applications using easily-available tools for this inexpensive platform.

Hello stranger!

You need to Register an InfoQ account or to post comments. But there's so much more behind being registered.

Get the most out of the InfoQ experience.

Tell us what you think

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread
Community comments

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Discuss

Educational Content

General Feedback
Bugs
Advertising
Editorial
InfoQ.com and all content copyright © 2006-2013 C4Media Inc. InfoQ.com hosted at Contegix, the best ISP we've ever worked with.
Privacy policy
BT