Air Force PS3 Supercomputer Screwed By Sony Killing Off Linux Support
from the don't-mess-with-the-air-force dept
Back in March, we wrote about Sony’s bizarre decision to delete a feature on PS3’s, that would let you install other operating systems. This was an advertised feature that, while not used by most PS3 buyers, was used pretty widely and creatively. In fact, we noted in that post that the US military had used PS3s to build a supercomputer. While Sony has now been sued for this form of bait-and-switch, Ars Technica checked in on the Air Force folks who built that PS3 supercomputer, and found out that they’re not particularly happy about this development. While it doesn’t immediately impact them (since their PS3s aren’t connected to the network and don’t need the upgraded firmware that will break the Linux support), it does mean that if machines break down and replacements are needed, the Air Force could be in trouble:
“We will have to continue to use the systems we already have in hand,” the lab told Ars, but “this will make it difficult to replace systems that break or fail. The refurbished PS3s also have the problem that when they come back from Sony, they have the firmware (gameOS) and it will not allow Other OS, which seems wrong. We are aware of class-action lawsuits against Sony for taking away this option on systems that use to have it.”
The article also details how this wasn’t just a gimmick by the Air Force, but it really was a cheap and effective way of building a supercomputer — significantly cheaper than other options. After comparing a bunch of different solutions, they found that there were only two options for the kind of performance they wanted: the PS3 option or a Xeon-based multithreaded system. But in comparing the cost, the Xeon system would be “more than an order of magnitude greater than the PS3 technology.”
You would think that Sony would know better than to piss off the US Air Force.