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PlayStation (Games) Supercomputing The Military Games Linux

US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update 349

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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  • Re:Obvious outcome (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:21AM (#32191224) Journal
    Apparently, for the particular bit of number-crunching that they were doing, Cell curb-stomped x86. They then concluded that, if you want Cell, your only options are a few absurdly expensive specialist compute servers(IBM makes one, Sony at least has a model number, I think that there are one or two others) or cheap PS3s. Since, when the started, OtherOS was a standard, supported, option, the only "hacking" involved was the inconvenience of having to touch each machine to kick off the install.

    Had their algorithm not suited Cell, the PS3 would have been an absurd choice. Since it did, though, it was actually pretty sensible(barring Sony's hard-to-predict action).
  • Re:Opportunity? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:22AM (#32191228)

    This will be a good opportunity for the government to see how good hacking/jailbreaking/etc. is ...

    If the fix would void the hardware warranty/support warranty that USAF has with Sony, there is no way the USAF would jailbreak those PS3s. In the end, this is not a decision one man is making about the PS3 cluster he owns.

  • by Jizato ( 1536125 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:22AM (#32191230)
    The slim PS3s didn't support the Other OS feature from launch, and when they started making the slim models they stopped producing the older ones that did support it. This has been an issue since Sept 2009.
  • Re:Sony's angle (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:28AM (#32191262)

    You are a 360 fanboiy and don't even know it sir.

    Here are this weeks game sales numbers on a newer games just out on both platforms.

    Super Street Fighter IV
    PS3 sales: 280,049
    X360 sales: 189,897

    2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
    PS3 sales:157,589
    x360 sales: 112,275

    It looks to me like the PS3 is now .destroying. the xbox 360 in terms of game sales. The WII is really a different market and I don't think the xbox or ps3 'lost' to them, the WII just opened up a new untouched market that everyone else wish they had a part of :}

    (The first hit on a google search for game sales)

  • what about folding? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @07:40AM (#32191330)

    makes ya wonder what will happen to the Folding@Home client stats [] as PS3s die off and aren't replaced.

    And who suffers in the end? Sick kids.
    Oh, will someone think of the children!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:01AM (#32191502)

    I thought even the Slims could fold?

    Besides, GPUs knock the socks off the PS3 for folding. Just at the time the GPU client wasn't out so the PS3 was better than x86

  • Re:COTS = COST (Score:3, Informative)

    by MadnessASAP ( 1052274 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @08:06AM (#32191534)

    But those are expensive, defeating the purpose of using PS3s in the first place. They could have gone to IBM and bulk ordered a pile of CELL equipped blade servers but its cheaper to buy the PS3 which Sony, like every other console manufacturer, sells below cost and make up the difference with game sales.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:08AM (#32192100) Journal

    I don't think the government buys anything from Sony, other than a few consumer electronics for conference room. Most of the time the government purchases from dedicated contractors like Lockheed, Northrop, Raytheon, et cetera.


    A number of those contractors have discovered that dicking with the U.S. Military (example: employees mischarging time) leads to serious consequences. Like millions of dollars in fines. I hope the USAF makes an example of Sony and drags them through the court system, for their false advertising scheme.

  • Re:Oops! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:15AM (#32192190) Homepage Journal


    17 U.S.C. 1201(e) (1998)

    Exception for Law Enforcement and Intelligence Activities. The DMCA permits circumvention for any lawfully authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activity by or at the direction of a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or of an intelligence agency of the United States.

  • by gsmalleus ( 886346 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:16AM (#32192202)
    Agreed. There are many companies out there that do business with the government. Just because Sony discontinued a feature, doesn't mean they won't let a large customer, such as the Army, not have access to a way of configuring their hardware the way they need it configured.
  • Re:COTS = COST (Score:5, Informative)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:18AM (#32192222)

    [...] but its cheaper to buy the PS3 which Sony, like every other console manufacturer, sells below cost and make up the difference with game sales.

    USAF buys literally tons of loss-leading PS3s but no games? I think you just hit on why Sony doesn't care about the problem the Air Force faces now.

  • by Verunks ( 1000826 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:26AM (#32192300)
    folding@home has nothing to do with this, it's a gameos application you can run it on any model, you don't need to install linux or anything else
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2010 @09:36AM (#32192422)

    I believe six impossible things before breakfast!

  • Re:Obvious outcome (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2010 @10:21AM (#32193000) Homepage Journal

    Using PS3s for anything, especially non-gaming research applications seemed like a really bad idea in the first place. A game console is nothing but an overpriced, crippled computer. Sure, the multi-core cell processor might be great for some things, but I doubt that they couldn't have found something better for the same price.

    You need to follow Mr. Peabody into the way-back machine to understand why they used PS3s. At the time it offered dramatically more flops per dollar than anything else. Flops are what you really need for all serious simulation, and the more precision, the better. It's only recently that you could get halfway decent double-precision flop rates with GPGPU computing. And even today, you'll need at least a $100 video card to push any significant number of them, plus a PC with a PCIEx16 slot. There has probably never been a cheaper source of flops than a used PS3 until recently, where used PCs with high-end video cards capable of delivering them began to become available. And I suspect that if you run the numbers, a typically-priced (say, gamestop price?) used PS3 will provide more DP FLOPS than a typically-priced used PC. Again, this is in the process of changing; it might be here already. And in any case, Sony has just eliminated the value of the used PS3 for scientific computing. (Those who say it had none previously are ignoring the many benefits of clustering; if a node dies, who cares, aside from the financial impact of its replacement? You can buy used consoles in bulk.)

  • by ajlitt ( 19055 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @11:05AM (#32193552)

    That's one boss...

    (puts on sunglasses)

    ...that won't fool us again.


  • by NonSenseAgency ( 1759800 ) on Thursday May 13, 2010 @11:24AM (#32193848)
    I spent many years first as Fedral Sales Manager and then Vice President of Sales dealing almost exclusively with the US Government and its affiliated agencies and contractors. Your statement "I don't think the government buys anything from Sony, other than a few consumer electronics for conference room. Most of the time the government purchases from dedicated contractors like Lockheed, Northrop, Raytheon, et cetera." is simply untrue. The US Government purchases a great deal from Sony, see [] and [] and []. This does not even touch upon the COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) purchases where the government agency simply buys what it needs from a local vendor right off of the shelf. There are already procedures in place for prohibiting purchases from vendors that do not meet the terms of their contracts with the US Government. In the case of GSA contracts, they are subject to losing the GSA contract and being prohibited from applying for a new one.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Thursday May 13, 2010 @01:41PM (#32196146) Journal

    So,... you have no credit cards, don't own a house or a car either, as far as I can tell, because all these things have insanely complicated contracts that the banks can change willy-nilly if they please.

    To be fair, not all credit card companies do that. The account agreement I got from my credit union with their credit card was a single page. It contained no arbitration clause and no provision for them to unilaterally change the contract. Go find yourself a local community bank or credit union. Odds are that they will treat you better than the big boys. Added bonus: Most of them didn't steal any of your tax dollars from you either.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay