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Michael Turner July 28, 2002 04:41

Sony PS/2 clustering
Here's an interesting one: computational chemistry on a PS/2:

The authors point out that the loss-leader model for marketing game systems (take a loss on the console, make money off the games), plus the economies of scale in that market, favors the use of video game boxes for COTS clustering.

Their usability as general purpose computers apparently owes something to EU trade policy, amusingly enough:

The note concludes: "It is fortunate for computational chemistry that many of the operations which need to be done quickly for realistic games are essentially the same as the ones which form the bottleneck in quantum chemistry. We expect that once the COTTS [sic] model is demonstrated to be effective for computational chemistry, other scientific computing applications will follow, and the idea could have a widespread impact similar to the Beowulf cluster."

It's been donkey's years since I've done anything in computational chemistry, so I'm not sure if this statement applies, mutatis mutandis, to computational fluid dynamics. The authors suggest that their raw performance numbers for dot-product in assembly code (not carefully optimized) probably understate what this box is capable of doing.

Michael Turner

Jonas Larsson July 30, 2002 05:32

Re: Sony PS/2 clustering
Interesting. What about an X-box cluster? People are already trying to port linux to the X-box, see:

I guess that MS aren't very happy about this. An anonymous donor even offered a $200,000 price to anyone who manages to port linux to the X-box, see:

However, with only a 700 MHz PIII the first generation X-box is quickly becoming a bit slow for CFD work.

Joern Beilke July 30, 2002 08:04

Re: Sony PS/2 clustering
I think that the idea is to use the graphics chip as a numerical coprocessor.

This might be a good way to speed up the radiation calculation if it works.

??? July 30, 2002 09:22

Is this a means of getting computer recognition?
The people at playstation are trying to get the playstation classed as a computer rather than a games toy. This would allow sony to aviod a 2% tax currently levied in europe. I guess someone is interested to know what the scientific community think.

Clifford Bradford July 30, 2002 14:56

Re: Sony PS/2 clustering
It isn't completely irrelevant though for home use particularly in developing countries. Or even consider if your kids want a computer and you don't want to spring for a $1000 system you can spend <$200 on a PS2 or Xbox and they can have something that they can type up papers, read email, surf the web, and play games all while viewing it on a 21" TV screen. Plus it also plays DVDs and CDs. Any sort of non power user who want versatility would appreciate something like this. The hardware manufacturers don't make it easy to develop software though. A friend of mine is developing a game for the Xbox and he told me that the developer's kit from Microsoft is several thousand dollars.

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