OT: PS3 used in Astro Physics

apit34356 wrote on 2/29/2008, 2:11 AM
Linux running on a PS3 with 16 others thru a simple switch
Boffin stacks 16 PS3s to simulate black hole collisions

By Scott Snowden
28th February 2008 00:02 GMT

When most of us arrived home with our newly purchased PS3, we couldn't wait to start annihilating aliens in Resistance: Fall of Man or kicking butt kung fu-style in Virtua Fighter 5. Not astrophysicist Gaurav Khanna - he used his to build a supercomputer.

Khanna now owns a total of 16 PS3 consoles, all linked together to provide the same computing power as a 400-node supercomputer. His set up, which he calls a 'gravity grid', is used to simulate the activity of very large black holes for the Physics Department at the University of Massachusetts.
Rack mounted PS3s at the University of Massachusetts

Stacked Sonies: the 'gravity grid' set up

The project is an attempt to estimate the properties of gravity waves generated by the collision of two black holes. Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in space-time that travel at the speed of light. These were theoretically predicted by Einstein's general relativity, but have never been directly observed.

In order to run his simulation data on the consoles, Khanna had to load the PS3s with Linux. What makes the gaming console more effective than high-end computers for complex research algorithms is the Cell chip built by IBM to process high-end gaming functions.
PS3 cosmology rack

Linux powered

"Linux can turn any system into a general-purpose computer, but for it to work for me I have to run my own code on it for astrophysics applications. The hard part of the job was to make sure my own calculations could run fast on the platform, which meant I had to optimise the written code so it could utilise the new features of the system."

The 16 PS3s haven't been physically modified. They're networked together using an inexpensive Gigabit Ethernet switch.

"Overall, a single PS3 performs better than the highest-end desktops available and compares to as many as 25 nodes of an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer," Khanna noted.

More details from Khanna's project site here(http://gravity.phy.umassd.edu/ps3.html)


blink3times wrote on 2/29/2008, 3:56 AM
16 PS3's!!

What was it the Grinch said.....ahh yes....

"The noise. Oh the noise, NOISE, NOISE!" :)
apit34356 wrote on 2/29/2008, 4:17 AM
How about 256 PS3s in a room and still have a normal conversion? Plus Using a modified HDMI interface switch for 10Gbit transfers for advance networking --------------------------
Terje wrote on 2/29/2008, 7:30 PM
Oh the noise, NOISE, NOISE!

Just out of curiosity blink, given the fact that you normally appear coherent and rational, are you getting treatment for this particular compulsive behavior? It seems like you, whenever you see the word PS3, have to find something to say about it that indicates there is something terribly wrong with the machine. If you can find something that is true, that is fine, but if you can't you'll just make up some stuff on the fly. This is clearly pathological (since you have said you have no hatred for the machine or it's producer it has to be). I assume this is some weird form of Tourettes or similar. Has your doctor been able to give you a good diagnosis?

I know that you have documented that a small number of PS3s are noisy, this has never been disputed by anyone, it was a short-term production and design fault at Sony. The machines are being replaced by Sony if the customer files a complaint. A non-defect PS3 makes no noise whatsoever, even when running flat out.

Just curious blink, this problem of yours makes you appear somewhat insane, despite the fact that you otherwise seem rational and together.
Houston Haynes wrote on 2/29/2008, 10:26 PM
For what it's worth - I thought blink was being ironic. If he was being catty, then that's just foolish.

One $400 PS3 is equal to 25 nodes of Blue Gene? Holy Cow, those game developers have a lot of headroom to explore...
apit34356 wrote on 3/1/2008, 1:19 AM
"" 16 PS3's!!

What was it the Grinch said.....ahh yes....

"The noise. Oh the noise, NOISE, NOISE!" :)""

I think Blink was just joking (maybe----maybe not--) me, because I hassle him sometimes about "choices" ;-)
blink3times wrote on 3/1/2008, 3:38 AM
I think Blink was just joking

Well, of course.

It appears that some people are just simply a little too wound up.

This kind of reminds me of that joke about Allah that was printed up in a British news paper. Of course the fanatics are now calling for a "holly war" because of it.

You need to calm down a little there guys!
zstevek wrote on 3/1/2008, 5:44 AM
Cool! thanks for sharing that Apit34356
farss wrote on 3/1/2008, 6:10 AM
The PS3 has been in use for a while for BOINCing, it seem one of the best solutions for providing the most calcs per joule. Friend of mine is hoping to replace a blade server he's using with a couple of PS3 as the power bill and the noise of the old server is pretty bad.

Rather ironic though that the cell processor in the PS3 is now made by Toshiba, Sony sold the fab plant to them some time ago.

TheHappyFriar wrote on 3/1/2008, 8:56 AM
interesting! Well, not really, there's a lot of horses under that plastic, to bad they aren't known for playing games as much as black holes. :D

i'm also 90% sure that loading linux under it is in violation of the DCMA. Unless they got special permission (sony, MS & nintendo go after people who do this sort of thing & publicize it).

Anyway... What would happen if you put the cell in a "normal" computer? Could we get 50+ tracks in a Linux NLE, in HD, all in RT? :)
john-beale wrote on 3/1/2008, 10:28 AM
> i'm also 90% sure that loading linux under it is in violation of the DCMA

Not. Sony actually provides an option to "load other os" in their menu, and documents the process in their user manual.

There is a company that will sell you PS3 clusters already set up, with Linux preinstalled, they have 8 and 32 node PS3 clusters available.
craftech wrote on 3/1/2008, 10:52 AM
"PS3 used in Astro Physics"
They may yet discover a Blue Ray inside Uranus. (wink)

apit34356 wrote on 3/1/2008, 12:02 PM
The PS3 is an Open system, its permitted to load up other OSs' by Sony! Pretty Cool!!!

"Rather ironic though that the cell processor in the PS3 is now made by Toshiba, Sony sold the fab plant to them some time ago." Bob, actually the current PS3 45m cell is from IBM plant in NY. Also, the Sony 90nm cell plant just a few days transfer ownship from Sony to Toshiba, then from Toshiba to partnership of toshiba(51%) and Sony(49%). Toshiba had to commit an additional $2B volume buys from the partnership plus guaranteed a positive bottom for 10 years, so this deal for the ic plants must be important to Toshiba future market.