SCE building PS3/Cell-based cluster with Terra Soft; Yellow Dog Linux distro on Cell

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Titanio, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. Titanio

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    I posted this on GAF a little while ago, and am slightly surprised it hasn't made its way here yet, so I guess I'll just post it here too myself ;)

    The formal announcement is supposedly due tomorrow, but HPCWire got whiff of it early:

    http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/967146.html

    More reporting:

    http://www.coloradoan.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061009/NEWS01/61009002

    http://grids.itmanagersjournal.com/gridsclusters/06/10/09/1345209.shtml?tid=66

    Terra Softs site (+ video of the cluster site's construction):

    http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/

    For those that don't know, Terra Soft is a (very) small company who previously worked on Power-based Linux distros for Apple products primarily. Now that Apple has switched to Intel, Terra Soft seems to be embracing Cell as its future.

    Interesting news for a number of reasons, I guess. It highlights Yellow Dog as perhaps the most likely 'standard' PS3 Linux distro given this deal, since it's there and ready basically. It also is the beginning of dependent business forming around Cell, which is fairly significant. It'll also be the first Cell-based cluster/supercomputer, being ready by the end of the year (the IBM Los Alamos one isn't due to be finished so soon, I don't think). And then I guess there's the whole development of SCE moving into the business of apparently hiring out compute power from its own cluster (as cited above, to Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos + more).
     
  2. ban25

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    I take it the cluster will be used to simulate optimal spinach irrigation systems...
     
  3. Titanio

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    It's called e-coli because that was the first life form to have its genetic code sequenced, apparently :p Always a method to madness..
     
  4. mckmas8808

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    WOW!
    Damn can anybody else see Sony trying to sell companies retail PS3s next year for research like this to Universities? I mean their sales will be a lot higher from a hardware stand point for marketing, but also using CELL in the PS3s for research like this is a cheap way to introduce people to CELL programming.

    If the people like it Sony/IBM can sell them to more expensive CELL blade. Would Sony actually think about doing this?

    Thoughts.
     
  5. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    I am pretty sure based on the Console Model of pricing, Sony would much prefer that consumers also desiring software buy PS3 units. Now a couple for PR, fine, but if 10,000 launch units go to these clusters that is cash out of Sony's pocket and lost potential revenue from games and movies.
     
  6. INKster

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    The main problem with PS3 was Blu-ray drives not being manufactured in large enough quantities.

    If this is a supercomputing cluster, there will be no such adversity (nor there is the need for built-in WiFi, card readers, HDMI/component, RSX, laptop hard drives, or even designer-casing).

    Plus, advanced computing stuff tends to be payed very generously by who really needs it, so there's no trouble in getting the money back -and then some-.
     
  7. patsu

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    Due to power, space and application/memory requirements, the units could be like the devkits (instead of retail PS3).

    EDIT: And yes, Blu-ray may not be needed.
     
  8. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    No, the main problem with using PS3 retail units, from Sony's perspective, is cost. Console makers routinely lose money on the units--even years after launch. Why would Sony want researches to buy hoards of PS3s (at a loss to Sony) when they won't be buying software (which makes them money)?

    The lack of Blu-ray diodes is inconsequential in that their scarcity is only one factor in the retail price and based on their own projected losses the PS3 will be sold at a loss.

    I am not saying cheap PS3-like units could not be produced and sold for the purpose of supercomputing clusters, only that the using retail units (as the question was) is not something Sony will push.

    That said, that didn't prevent people from using Xbox consoles for media centers or a number of people experimenting with 16 Xbox Linux clusters... but again, not something MS pushed for the same above reasons.
     
  9. mckmas8808

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    One reason was explained by the article. It would be to introduce them to CELL hardware and an opening to purchase the real deal. The real deal being the CELL blade that can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

    You know practice and test your code at amazing speeds for a year. Spend $300,000 and get 50 teraflops of power. Can't disagree with that.
     
  10. INKster

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    You're assuming that that version of Yellow Dog Linux (and computing time on the cluster) will be free.
    I'm sure that's not the case.

    They will be renting (not buying) software + hardware, and that on a limited scale.
    After all, this is mainly for demonstration purposes. It's not a cluster vending operation, as they said.
     
    #10 INKster, Oct 10, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2006
    Acert93 likes this.
  11. LunchBox

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    The other one should've been salmonella not ameoba...

    I wonder if the PS3's could be used a'la flashmob...

    I wonder how much computing will it be if it's done globally...
     
  12. Titanio

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    To clarify, it is reported in another article that they're using PS3 beta kits recycled from developers, as they phase them out in favour of final kits or whatever.

    It could be used as a testing ground for rolling out distributed apps across a wider network of PS3s, which is interesting to consider. Obviously it's already happening with F@H, but Sony could be eyeing its own generic software infrastructure for supporting a wider class of applications. The only difference would be the amount of bandwidth between each node on a global network versus a local one as in this cluster - but there are obviously applications for which that would be relatively unimportant.

    It will be interesting to see, though, if institutions favour renting time at one of these clusters versus building their own using $500 boxes. Obviously using Terrasoft's software you get a leg-up, and you get help etc. but some that have already developed distributed apps may be comfortable rolling their own using (hopefully) whatever distro is made available on PS3.
     
    #12 Titanio, Oct 10, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2006
  13. London-boy

    London-boy Shifty's daddy
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    Well, if FLOPS is all you want, then sure, it's a great machine. I'm sure there are more factors to take into consideration than just the OMG TERAFLOPS ROXORZ?!!!1 figures.
     
  14. Guden Oden

    Guden Oden Senior Member
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    I would assume support etc to be great when using the cluster, and totally nonexistant when using home consoles. :p That might be worth much more in the end than any purchase price.
     
  15. StefanS

    StefanS meandering Velosoph
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    Thread pruned for now. The whole E.Coli discussion is absolutely off-topic and will not be tolerated within this thread. If you want to discuss the aspects of that, I suggest opening a thread in RPSC.
     
  16. cthellis42

    cthellis42 Hoopy Frood
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    They'll only agree to those prices if the companies agree to buy at least 3 Sony-published titles apiece for each machine as well. :razz:

    But hey, then the researchers are at least guaranteed to NEVER get bored!
     
  17. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    That's just awesome... environmentally friendly and incredibly practical.
     
  18. mckmas8808

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    Yeah these guys get a thumbs up from me too.
     
  19. BlackFriar

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    http://www.physorg.com/news79788433.html
     
  20. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    I really, really hope that Sony is going to make good on that Linux promise for the retail unit. It's gonna be a huge letdown for me if they screw that up. I'm sure I can think of understandable reasons for them to let it go, but I'd be very unhappy if they did regardless.
     
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