Good thing the PlayStation 3 dropped in price. The US Department of Defense ordered 2,200 more of the consoles to crank up their PS3 supercomputer, currently consisting of 336 of the devices in a Linux cluster. According to the official Justification Review Document (cache link) required for the purchase of the PS3s, the game platform, with its IBM Cell microprocessor, is a much better value for the money than IBM's Cell-powered products designed for supercomputing applications. Ars Technica points out that the price difference comes in part because the PS3 is a loss leader for Sony. From the Justification Review Document:
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. Though a single 3.2 GHz cell processor can deliver over 200 GFLOPS, whereas the Sony PS3 configuration delivers approximately 150 GFLOPS, the approximately tenfold cost difference per GFLOP makes the Sony PS3 the only viable technology for HPC applications."Sony still subsidizing US military supercomputer efforts" (Ars Technica, thanks Rob Rader!)
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.