200 PlayStation 3 Units Form Supercomputer to Help Study Black Holes

By   /   Dec 24, 2014

A black hole physicist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is utilizing two hundred PlayStation 3 consoles to help form a “supercomputer” for his research.

New England-based physics professor Dr. Gaurav Khanna was in need of a supercomputer to help him research and study vibrations in space-time called gravitational waves. Purchasing one would had cost him an arm or leg. So instead of deciding between his limbs, the professor opted to link up two hundred PlayStation 3 consoles to form a super-network of hardware working in unison.

In an interview with The New York Times, he explained that his cheaper alternative uses the Linux operating system. Sony Computer Entertainment is apparently a supporter of Khanna’s research and even donated four units to help aid his work.

Though being cheaper, the idea falls short due to its memory limitations. Khanna pointed out that in the future, supercomputers would most probably be powered by computers boasting powerful graphics cards.

“The next supercomputer we’re going to build will probably be made entirely of these cards,” he explained. “It won’t work for everything, but it will certainly cover a large set of scientific and engineering applications, especially if we keep improving on it.”

Khanna’s research began in 2007 where he started by linking 16 PS3 consoles to model black hole collisions. Over the years, he added in more units to what has become a supercomputer today that is able to handle large numbers of processes.