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PlayStation (Games) Supercomputing The Military Games Linux

US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update 349

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-an-act-of-terrorism-to-me dept.
tlhIngan writes "The US Air Force, having purchased PS3s for supercomputing research, is now the latest victim of Sony's removal of the Install Other OS feature. It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail. PS3s with the Other OS feature are no longer produced since the Slim was introduced, so replacements will have to come from the existing stock of used PS3s. However, as most gamers have probably updated their PS3s, that used stock is no longer suitable for the USAF's research. In addition, smaller educational clusters using PS3s will share the same fate — unable to replace machines that die in their clusters." In related news, Sony has been hit with two more lawsuits over this issue.
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US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update

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  • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:06AM (#32191106)

    What, the USAF was the only buyer of PS3s, and now suddenly that they can't use them, nobody wants them... the market will be flooded with $0.10 used PS3s nobody can actually use for anything useful.

  • Opportunity? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vodevil (856500) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:16AM (#32191182)
    This will be a good opportunity for the government to see how good hacking/jailbreaking/etc. is, and they can install geohot's fix so they don't lose linux support.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @06:56AM (#32191452)

    There's been a big push in recent years to move to "COTS" (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions in the government - the military in particular. And while this may be find for things like holsters, backpacks, and office chairs, I think this highlights for EVERYONE, not just bright young aquisitions officers, that sometimes taking COTS technology and using it for your highly specific and critical application is not the best choice. Unfortunately, sometimes (sometimes!) big, expensive, and proprietary in-house solutions really are the best.

    No, what it drives home is that, when you purchase a piece of hardware, it belongs to you, and no vendor should have the legal right to modify what you have purchased without your consent, nor to coerce consent for modifications that reduce or cripple the capabilities of something you have purchased.

    Maybe now that military and commercial interests are being impacted, we can get the barest modicum of consumer protection to outlaw this shit (and similar, retroactive software modifications as well, such as Steve Jobs foists upon his hapless iPhone slaves ... it all eventually amounts to the same thing, and puts a lot more than the military at risk).

    I know for our trading platforms we would never tolerate this kind of thing from a vendor (and Apple has lost out on this on more than one occasion for exactly this reason). I'm amazed the military hasn't come down on Sony like a ton of bricks -- a large investment bank certainly would have.

  • Re:Opportunity? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:09AM (#32191566)

    We also checked out both options for our lab at the university. At that time (3 years back), a PS3 was EUR 600. The only way to get a "cell computer" was via IBM blades.

    That's odd. Mercury Computer has had a "cell accelerator board" for $8K since the last quarter of 2006. Basically its a cell processor in a PCIe slot.
    Second generation is here: http://www.mc.com/products/boards/accelerator_board2.aspx [mc.com]

    Maybe they had export problems with it, although they announced it at a singapore trade show.

  • by strayant (789108) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:07AM (#32192086)
    As an engineer, I tend to find solid definitions to be quite agreeable. As a scientist, I know that everything could be all wrong and we should do more research... Actually, while words are often misused/misspoken (especially with Bush), it is also important to understand that language is not static. Language is as organic as our culture (for better or worse). New words are coined all the time. Some words are made and forgotten. Other words are only used in certain industries. Marketing terms are made up on an almost daily basis, and the ones that stick seem to find themselves in our everyday language. So, as for "normalcy", this predated W's word juggle: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=normalcy [lmgtfy.com] http://www.cjr.org/resources/lc/normalcy.php [cjr.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creeping_normalcy [wikipedia.org] I too find many words very annoying... like, "a whole nother". What is this word "nother"? Logic takes over and says quite clearly what a person means. While I don't like it, it's akin to riding over linguistic pot-holes. I'm not going to fix every little thing. Given time it won't need fixing, because it will be "proper". ...and this ends another rant of "things that bother the hell out of me".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:28AM (#32192320)

    Show up with a bag of money and companies start to do things....

    Hell they could contract it out to a 'game' house. Who already has the dev kits...

    Then it will work again on 100% of the units. Instead of just the 'older ones'. Hell they could sell the older units on ebay at 6-7 dollars a pop. Then buy up newer slim units at a 50% cost savings on power.

  • Re:COTS = COST (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:45AM (#32192532)
    I've used a developer box, you can self sign and deploy to other PS3's, you just don't have a license to deploy commercially.
  • Re:Obvious outcome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:41AM (#32193270) Journal
    My understanding is that the GPU is neutered to hell and back, you basically just get a dumb framebuffer; but that the GPU is completely separate from the Cell, its basically just near-stock Nvidia silicon from a few generations back. The Cell, though, is more or less as functional as it ever is(which is to say that you only get 7 SPEs rather than the full 8 in the expensive compute gear).

    Unless you program your application specifically to use the SPEs, PS3 Linux is basically just not-especially-fast PPC Linux with not much RAM; but the SPEs are available.
  • by NonSenseAgency (1759800) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @11:19AM (#32194674)
    I am afraid you did not understand my statement at all. If the federal government posts an injunction against Sony for failing to meet the terms of their contracts, and selling items that do not meet or continue to meet their advertised purposes most assuredly violates their contract, then ALL vendors are affected. If Lockheed or Northrop or any Prime or Subcontractor includes items manufactured by Sony after such an injunction has been issued, the bid is VOID. No contractor will risk losing a contract if such an action is even remotely likely. They will specify some other supplier's equipment instead. Depending upon precisely how the injunction was worded, this could mean that computers bought by the government could not contain CD or DVD drives manufactured by Sony or even something as small as a power supply or cable. Even if the items were purchased COTS rather than off of a GSA schedule or as part of a prime contract, the government still has to right to forbid the purchase of any Sony products from any source for violation of warranty of implied merchantability by any government agency and by extension, from any contractor. Will the government take such action? Probably not. But it is in their power to do so.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @12:40PM (#32196134) Homepage

    You know, this is often trotted out as an indictment of Bush but I think he actually made a very narrow escape from something much worse. Can you imagine what people would have done with a clip of Bush saying "Shame on me"?

    Whenever I see him saying what he did say, I kind of imagine a smart adviser's voice screaming through his earpiece "DONT SAY 'SHAME ON ME'. DO NOT SAY 'SHAME ON ME'!".

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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