176 PlayStation 3's used to make supercomputer at UMass Dartmout - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

176 PlayStation 3's used to make supercomputer at UMass Dartmouth

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Samantha Lavien
Twitter: @samanthalavien

A UMass Dartmouth professor has turned PlayStation 3 consoles into a supercomputer capable of performing very complex calculations.

The device which is made of 176 PlayStation’s is housed inside a refrigerated shipping container at the university.

"The idea that we had was instead of playing games was why don't we use the same number crunching ability that the PlayStation has to do scientific problems," said Dr. Guarav Khanna an associate professor at UMass Dartmouth.

The device is being used to gain a better understanding of how black holes work and to study the intricacies of cyber security.

"It's all done using equations using mathematics and computer algorithms to do a simulation,” said Khanna.

Using PlayStations to make the supercomputer is about 10 times more cost effective than it would have been to use the typical equipment.

"To build a machine as powerful as this one using tradition super computing parts it would of cost us somewhere in the range of $750,000,” said Khanna. “The entire project here you are seeing is about $75,000 to $80,000."

This isn't Professor Khanna's first homemade supercomputer, actually pioneered this sort of set-up back in 2007.

And,that previous success ot only inspired others to follow in his footsteps, it also helped push him to build this new unit.

"This particular system over here is comparable to about 3000's cores on a laptop. Everybody has a laptop of some sort usually they will have in there a two core processor or a four core processor. This system is about 3000 of those,” said Khanna.

Grant money was used to fund the supercomputer.

The two projects are expected to take about two years to complete.

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