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Air Force Needs More PS3s?


By Gautham Nagesh November 18, 2009

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The vast majority of the technology-related notices in FedBizOps are pretty standard: hardware purchases and requests for information for new security software. Occasionally you'll see a notice about a bigger upcoming project.

But every now and then I see something that causes a double-take. Such as this solicitation from Monday, in which the Air Force announces they are looking for a vendor to sell them 2,200 Playstation 3 gaming consoles.

Now for disclosure's sake, I own a Playstation 3 and it's a powerful piece of machinery. It comes with a Blu Ray player and it makes Madden that much more enjoyable on an HDTV. But judging by the accompanying documents, the Air Force has no intention of shipping these consoles to the nearest base for the enjoyment of local airmen:

The new PS3s will be placed in a cluster environment with an existing cluster of 336 PS3s by connecting each of the units' one gigabit Ethernet port to a common 24 port gigabit hub. Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software. Commercial as well as in-house developed software code specific to these cell processor architectures will be studied. The objective of the architectural studies is to determine the best fit for implementation of various applications. An example would be determining additional software and hardware requirements for Advanced Computing Architectures (ACA) and High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) applications.

I've reached out to the Air Force to ask how they plan on using the devices but they have not responded yet. It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the government has looked to harness the power of the commercial gaming console. Apparently the best way to replace aging supercomputers may be with a trip to your local mall.


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