View Full Version : Playstation 2 Supercomputers

27-05-2003, 13:21:37
Those nerds at the US National Center for Supercomputing Applications (http://www.ncsa.edu/) have linked 70 Playstation 2s together to form a supercomputer running Linux capable of up to half a trillion operations per second.

Cool or pointless? Dunno. Story here:


27-05-2003, 13:27:29
saw that, it was yesterday in the NY Times

Sir Penguin
27-05-2003, 18:47:08
Cool and pointless are not mutually exclusive states of being. And $50,000 is bloody cheap for a supercomputer.


27-05-2003, 19:41:19
COOOOL!!!!! :cool:

27-05-2003, 19:43:21
Poooointless! :smoke:

27-05-2003, 20:01:39
Clearly I should have said cool and/or pointless.

Sir Penguin
27-05-2003, 20:37:11
My Englineering prof read the NY Times article to us in class today. He was very impressed that the Pentagon was interested in using the PS2 cluster for wall displays. :)


27-05-2003, 20:52:33
Could they have obtained the same result by linking together several dozens of X-Boxes or Gamecubes?

27-05-2003, 21:28:12
Sir Penguin, then your Englineering professor cannot read, according to the PS2 Supercomputer article posted on News.Com. It was *MICROSOFT* that was suggesting that the Pentagon should use them for their wall displays. (I suppose News.Com could have been wrong though. :D)

The cool thing about how they did it is they are using the GRAPHICS processor (GPU) to do the computing. Downside is that the PS2 only has a 32 Meg capability for moving numbers and data along its pipeline, which prevents it from being useful except in an extremely narrow band of computing use.

You couldn't do the same thing with X-Boxes because you cannot run Linux without mod chips on and X-Box. And noone is willing to bother with Gamecubes.

The reason the PS2 thing is neat, from a technology point of view, is that they are using basic, off the shelf parts, and are using the GPU in place of CPU/FPU functionality.

27-05-2003, 21:41:24
Originally posted by Darkstar

The cool thing about how they did it is they are using the GRAPHICS processor (GPU) to do the computing. Downside is that the PS2 only has a 32 Meg capability for moving numbers and data along its pipeline, which prevents it from being useful except in an extremely narrow band of computing use.

Is that why such a PS2 'supercomputer' is much cheaper than ordinary supercomputers? (don't bother if it's really complicated to explain ;))

27-05-2003, 21:47:18
Short answer: Yep.

They are using all 'off the rack' standard components. Just had to tweak their Linux code a bit to get data into and out of the GPU.

27-05-2003, 21:48:03
Ok, thanks. :)

27-05-2003, 21:50:56
And the Beowulf stuff. I wonder how Sony feels about this. Aren't they supposed to take a loss on the hardware and make the money back with the games? :)

27-05-2003, 22:01:57
That's what they're doing yes, but I think the promo is worth much more than the loss they're making on 70 PS2's.

27-05-2003, 22:50:11
people, we have been over that. They aren't actually LOSING money on the consoles. Not according to their actual financial statements. It was one lone reporter that stated that Sony and Microsoft were losing money on the consoles, and everyone keeps referring to people that refer to him.

Now, their profit margin on their hardware is quite small. However, that isn't the same thing as losing money...

27-05-2003, 23:00:26
I wish Asher was around :(.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
28-05-2003, 00:01:09
According to Infoworld, Microsoft lost $190 million on third quarter sales for its entertainment division. Even if they're not losing money on the hardware, they are in the division overall, which is significantly impacted by offering the XBox at such low prices.

28-05-2003, 10:42:17
Originally posted by Sean
I wish Asher was around :(.

Why do you think I posted this? :cute:

28-05-2003, 22:33:06
Qaj, it is true that Microsoft lost money in that division. However, it wasn't the X-Box console that lost money. Most of that money was lost on advertising (the X-Box, and various Microsoft Games). There is a difference. ;)

28-05-2003, 23:09:00
So you're saying that the gross margins are positive?

29-05-2003, 05:42:27
The PS2 has a rather poor (by today's standards) vector processor.

It's a shitbox of a CPU when it comes to anything non-vector, and its lack of cache and bottlenecked and high-latency bus is a nightmare to develop for.

PS2 hardware blows. Design disaster.

Don't even get me started on the graphics synthesizer in it...its technology is on par with the TNT2.

29-05-2003, 05:44:05
And Darkstar, they don't use the GPU to do the computing.

It's just a generic RISC vector processor.

The GPU in the PS2 is really pathetic, ~3M transistors (as compared to 65M in the Xbox GPU)

29-05-2003, 15:48:56

29-05-2003, 16:50:06
Yep, that’s the stuff.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
29-05-2003, 19:17:07
Darkstar, sure. If any data from Microsoft can be trusted, that is :)

But still, over the entire entity, the only things not losing money are reportedly the O/S and Office divisions. All the others, overall, are money sinks buoyed up by Windows sales. That's what's letting MS put out that $190 million fund to thwart Linux by offering huge discounts to government and large corporate clients to stick with Windows.

I can't see where they could have possibly got that anti-competitive stigma from, can you? :D

29-05-2003, 21:30:28
I find it funny that they are considered a monopoly, and that Linux was not allowed to be a legal consideration as an alternative, when 15% of all desktops are now Linux boxes, Qaj. And growing. (And that's according to the anti-Linux metric firms, so just guess at what the REAL WORLD/REAL DATA is...)

Data games, data games. Let's play the ole data games.

Qaj, you'll notice that some goverments are still going for the Linux open source solutions from formerly having been Windows shops. It happens.

Asher, why don't you notify News.Com that their journalist is mis-reporting the facts about the PS2 supercomputer node and what it is using? You never know, that might be another Blair in the making over there. ;)

29-05-2003, 22:29:05
News.com's technical details are almost always off.

Stick with sites like EEtimes.com or SiliconInvestor. :D

30-05-2003, 00:42:00
15% on the Desktop? I like Linux, but I'm not ready to believe that yet. :)

30-05-2003, 01:37:45
I think Darkstar is confused...15% sounds like a figure for overall computers, including servers/clusters.

Sir Penguin
30-05-2003, 01:53:34
Maybe he meant 15% of all computers on the top of a desk or other flat surface.


Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
30-05-2003, 15:44:01
It might be a figure for people willing to consider installing it next upgrade cycle. Who knows?

DS, you confirmed my point about MS having a slush fund to try to persuade people to stick with Windows. It's proof that they're worried about losing their, if not monopoly position, then their "top of the heap" position.

Sooner the better, I say. Down with MicroSoft! Booooo!

30-05-2003, 17:07:59
I think MS has some good products. Direct X is cool. As for their business practices, I have no comments at this time. :)

30-05-2003, 22:54:28
Asher, that's the figures for DESKTOPS and NOTEBOOKS.

The server figures were 35% of *all* servers are now Linux, AIR. Works out to be about 45% of all Intel machines sold as servers.

Now, one of the arguments the States and JD (Justice Department) used in their case against Microsoft is that most (90%+ in the States, 99.99%+ overseas) of the Linux installed sold machines get a pirated version of MS Windows dropped on it by the purchasers as soon as the set the box up. That's how the States and JD established that they were a 'monopoly', despite the fact that there were other platforms sold in a significant percentage on their prefered hardware for their product.

Qaj, the reason they have the antitrust lawsuit against them was that they didn't have a slush fund in the first place. Go back and dig into who pressed them... and notice thier correspondance stating things to Microsoft like 'Pay us 50 Million dollars this year (as future campaign contributions), or we will order the JD to prosecute you as a monopoly.'.

01-06-2003, 10:36:16
80% of our servers are Linux now. I think we only have 2 left on M$