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December 9, 2009

Military purchases 2,200 PS3s

Posted: 11:14 AM ET

It seems generous grandmothers aren't the only ones purchasing PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles this holiday season. The U.S. Dept. of Defense has announced plans to buy an additional 2,200 PS3s to complement a military supercomputer cluster running on 336 PS3 systems.

The military purchase was likely encouraged by Sony's recent PS3 price cut, which brought the price of a single console down to $299.

A military justification of review document explains the decision:

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.

According to Ars Technica, Sony sells the PS3 at a loss and hopes to make back the difference by selling games and accessories.

The reason that the PS3 is a more cost-effective way to buy Cell-powered GFLOPS than, say, the Cell blades that IBM actually makes specifically for supercomputing applications, is that the consoles come with a big, fat subsidy from Sony.

However, the military isn't likely to purchase any games for these PlayStations. The justification review states the systems will run a proprietary Linux-based operating system, which probably won't be able to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

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Filed under: consumer tech • Games • Gaming

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John   December 15th, 2009 6:14 pm ET

Exactly. The DOD isn't going to be buying video games. They just want the motherboard and processor.

Actually this is a pretty smart move by the United States: the U.S. military expands its war-driving supercomputer at the expense of the Japanese manufacturer Sony. Sony subsidizes the PS3 to keep the hardware costs down and in the range of most consumers.

l_dopa   December 21st, 2009 10:04 am ET

The military could just buy the processors for the super computing. What do they need the whole console for?? Perhaps so they can use them as simulators?

rick   January 29th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

Come on Redstorm.....if not for the gop their wouldnt be much of a military...all of your tax dollars would go to welfare instead....which you would be on because you would be unemployed!

Why Apple (and Sony, Amazon, Microsoft etc.) Should Support Jailbreaking | Electronic Frontier Foundation   December 5th, 2011 12:56 pm ET

[...] to run them as an inexpensive alternative to a desktop. Researchers, and even the U.S. military, turned clusters of PS3s into powerful supercomputers back when Sony supported the installation of alternative operating [...]

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