Physicist Guarav Khanna, took some old PS3 consoles and used them to create a supercomputer that can offer 3,000 times more power when compared to a desktop computer. What is he using it for? He is studying black holes using this amazing supercomputer.
He is studying them at University of Massachusetts in USA. He has used this supercomputer to help with publishing of multiple papers regarding black holes. A part of his research is about finding gravitational waves that occur when two black holes collide with one another.
In order to learn more about these particular waves, he required a supercomputer that was able to tackle numbers about 10 times faster than a conventional desktop computer. Since supercomputers are excessively costly, he decided to build himself one back in 2009.
A supercomputer, essentially, is a combination of a myriad of conventional computers linked together via network. Guarav, instead of linking up laptops, decided to make use of PS3s. The obvious benefit was that this allowed him to make use of an OS that was of his preference. It cost him only $250 for the OS. A donation of 4 consoles came from Sony and 12 more were purchased by University and Guarav.
He loaded the 16 PS3s with Linux software and linked them all together to create a processor that was capable of meeting his requirements. He has used this supercomputer for modeling gravitational waves, publishing papers and even went on to make a supercomputer much more powerful than this one when the US Department of Defense took interest in his idea. A total of 176 more PS3 consoles were donated and now the supercomputer is equivalent to 3,000 desktop computers. The total cost stands at $75,000 which way cheap for a device of such caliber.
Guarav’s next aim it to work and a come up with a supercomputer using graphic cards out of PCs. They are less expensive but pack processing power that is comparable to 20 PS3 consoles.