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And you thought it was just for gaming…
Since funding for research can be hard to come by, one Ph.D. took matters into his own hands. Dr. Gaurav Khanna of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth had been waiting for a computer to fulfill his needs since 2007. His studies at the university require powerful computers to crunch massive numbers and perform complex calculations. With a lack of available funding to provide this supercomputer, Khanna decided to make his own.
He contacted Sony, who donated 4 PS3 consoles to get him started. The University funded 8 more consoles, and Khanna bought the rest with his own money (averaging around $250 each). Instead of linking multiple processors, Khanna chose to link multiple consoles. In addition to a cost benefit, he was also able to choose his own operating system and customize things to his liking.
With his proven success from the basic model, the Air Force Research Lab donated 176 consoles, and he is expecting another 220 consoles this year. The supercomputer Khanna created studies black hole collisions and gravitational forces of exploding mass.
Not bad for a humble gaming device.