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Supercomputer Playtime

I have a great interest in supercomputers. I'm not smart enough to really use them or completely understand all the ins and outs, but I'm fascinated by just how much power can be jammed into a single box. And nowadays, you don't have to pay millions for this horsepower. Commodity chips, memory, storage and operating systems mean these puppies are affordable to the average shop -- or even the average yuppie.

That's right: Supercomputing may now be in the realm of the average cheese-eating, pimply-faced, yuppie teenager. Thanks to Dartmouth College, the Playstation 3 (actually, eight of them) can form a single supercomputer. Pretty cool.

You could actually argue that a single PS3 is already a supercomputer, as is an Xbox 360. The PS3 uses an IBM cell processor which is already (as I understand) eight-core, while the Xbox has a custom three-core Intel Xeon. Both of these consoles make a basic -- and more expensive -- PC look like a Radio Shack TRS-80.

The coolest part of the PS3 supercomputer? Like an old Heathkit, you can build it yourself!

Posted by Doug Barney on January 05, 2009 at 11:53 AM


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