Sony Accidentally Ends PS3 Supercomputing [Sony's Removal Of The OtherOS Feature Prematurely Ends PS3 Supercomputer Clusters]
Sony recently patched-out the “OtherOS” feature that allowed users to run Linux installations on their first-gen PlayStation 3 consoles. The Linux crowd hasn’t taken kindly, sending moronic commentators to our blog and filing a class action lawsuit. Sony allegedly did it to preserve the security and DRM environment on the PS3, but they’ve inadvertently hampered the growing scene of clustered-PS3 supercomputers.
The PlayStation 3 uses the “Cell” processor, a powerful microprocessor which was codeveloped by IBM, Sony and Toshiba. The PlayStation 3 (even when it launched at $600) was vastly cheaper than any Cell-powered custom supercomputer could hope to be, so some universities, research institutions and even the US Air Force have created cheap Cell supercomputer clusters by networking thousands of PS3s together.
It was a cheap (and awesome) way for budget-strapped universities (and US military branches, apparently) to get their hands on a Cell-powered supercomputer. Unfortunately, these clusters all used the OtherOS feature and when Sony removed them from the PS3’s firmware, that destroyed the future of any PS3 supercomputers, according to experts who spoke to Hot Hardware.
Hot Hardware spoke to several researchers and computer scientists, including Dr. Frank Mueller, the first man to build a PS3 supercomputer cluster. A majority of them believe that the PS3 Supercomputer era is dead. Not only did Sony hamper it by removing the “OtherOS” feature, but the second-gen “PlayStation 3 Slim” never had the firmware to use the OtherOS feature.
Hot Hardware says that Sony knew who the clustered supercomputing clients were, and could of avoided giving them the firmware update, but al la – Sony has killed them all.
IBM is now offering cheaper Cell-based supercomputers than they were several years ago, but those in the academic space say that nothing could beat the clustered PS3’s in the FLOPS per price ratio.