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US Air Force Builds Supercomputer Out of 1,760 PlayStation 3s

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There’s something cathartic about those Call of Duty commercials, the ones where ordinary Joes and Josephine’s (and Kobe Bryant) strap on automatic weapons and blow up everything in sight.

Cathartic not because violence ought to be glorified, but because video game consoles empower nerds to feel like soldiers. But my how the tables have turned! Now, the actual military is using PlayStations to do something rather nerdy.

Gamasutra reports that the US Air Force has created the most powerful supercomputer in the Defense Department by stringing together 1,760 PlayStation 3 systems.

In addition to the PS3s, the so-called “Condor Cluster” also uses 168 graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers. It can perform 500 trillion floating point operations per second, which sure does sound like a lot!

The whole system cost only $2 million, or about “five to 10 percent of an equivalent system built entirely with off-the-shelf computer parts.” Apparently, the supercomputer will be used to process high-res satellite imagery, radar enhancement, and to research AI.

But we have another theory.

Stephen Koff reports that what makes the cluster so useful—besides its low price tag—is that while it’s housed in upstate New York, other Defense branches can access it remotely.

Which can only mean one thing: the entire Defense Department is on the verge of the largest Call of Duty Battle Royale in the history of the world. And it’s going to be awesome.
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