Sony, Toshiba and IBM have long touted the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.) to be supercomputer material. The designers of the Cell/B.E. said many times that the processor may be used in a variety of applications, ranging from entertainment to industrial.
Now, the U.S. Air Force is planning to put the Cell/B.E. to the test, and oddly enough, it plans to procure its processor samples by purchasing 300 PlayStation 3 consoles.
As written in its presolicitation notice posted late February, ???The Air Force Research Laboratory is conducting a technology assessment of certain cell processors.???
While there are many other ways to obtain a Cell/B.E., some of which more capable than the one offered for videogames, but even the U.S. Air Force has a budget.
???The processors in the Sony PlayStation 3 are the only brand on the market that utilizes the specific cell processor characteristics needed for this program at an acceptable cost,??? detailed the notice.
Strangely, the 40GB PlayStation 3 model requested by the U.S. Air Force specifies the inclusion of four USB ports ??“ twice as many on the retail 40GB PS3 ??“ and slots for Memory Stick/SD/Compact Flash, which are only available on the 60GB and 80GB machines.