From PlayStation to supercomputer:
"the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has assembled a supercomputer from an army of Sony PlayStation 2 devices. The resulting system, with components purchased at retail prices, cost a little more than $50,000. Researchers at the supercomputing center believe the system may be capable of a half trillion operations a second, well within the definition of supercomputer, although it may not rank among the world's 500 fastest supercomputers.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the project, which uses the open-source Linux operating system, is that the only hardware engineering involved was placing 70 of the individual game machines in a rack and plugging them together with a high-speed Hewlett-Packard network switch. The center's scientists bought 100 machines but are holding 30 in reserve, possibly for high-resolution display application. The limited memory of the Sony game console--32MB of memory--would also restrict the practical applications of the supercomputer, they said.
But they noted that the computer was already running useful calculations on quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, simulations. QCD is a theory concerning the so-called strong interactions that bind elementary particles like quarks and gluons together to form hadrons, the constituents of nuclear matter. The ability to lower the cost of QCD simulation in itself would be significant, the researchers said, because such problems are the single largest consumer of computing resources on supercomputers at the Department of Energy and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. 8:27:35 AM