PlayStation 3 Parallel Computing - Guy Tel-Zur

Ido Tov & Matan Raveh
Parallel Processing (361-1-3621)
January 2014
Electrical and Computer Engineering DPT.
Ben-Gurion University
Early 2000’s – Iraqi government bought
1000’s of PS2
 NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing
Applications) built an 8 and a 32 node PS2 cluster.
Following the PlayStation 3 release:
 2007 – NC State Uni.
 2007 – Dartmouth Uni. (“Gravity Grid”)
 2010 – USAF Research Lab for satellite imagery
(500 TFLOPS, 1760 units)
Developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM
Originally developed for high
performance applications.
Each Cell Chip has:
One PowerPC core(PPE)
8 compute cores (SPEs)
On-chip Memory controller
On-chip I/O
On-chip network to connect them all
A PS3 has:
 1 Cell Chips (6 usable SPEs)
 256MB of XDR DRAM Memory
 Gigabit Ethernet
Power Processing
Element (PPE)
Synergistic Processing
Element (SPE)
Interconnection Bus
Memory System
Network Card &
Graphics Card
Power Processing Element (PPE)
The PPE is a 64 bit, "POWER Architecture“
(Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC)
Synergistic Processing Elements (SPE)
An SPE is a self contained vector processor (SIMD) which acts as a
Each SPE consists of:
128 x 128 register
Local Store (SRAM)
DMA unit
FP, LD/ST, Permute, Branch Unit (each pipelined)
Parallel processing on the PS3 was enabled
with the Terra Soft Solutions version of
“Yellow Dog” Linux for the PlayStation 3
This gave us the ability to work with parallel
processing programing tools such as
OpenMPI (for use with cluster).
 Bruteforce MD5 (single PS3 cell)
 “Gravity Grid” – 2007 by Dr. Khanna, made for
simulating black hole’s gravity.
 [email protected] – joined research by Sony and
Stanford Uni. for protein folding diseases
(Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's)
 Performing the SUMMA algorithm (matrix
Advantages and
 Pricing:
▪ 200GF server ~ 6000$
▪ 150GF PS3 unit ~ 300$
 Use of Cell Chip technology
 Ease of use – hardware and
software (Linux and OpenMPI)
Advantages and
 Main memory size: 256MB only
(288MB optimal by SUMMA)
Main memory speed / access rate:
causing 12.5% efficiency
Gigabit Ethernet – BOTTLENECK
(compared to Cell speed)
Double Precision speed slower by
factor of 14 than Single Precision
Programming Paradigm
On March 28th 2010, Sony announced they’re
disabling the ability to run other operating
systems on Ps3 consoles – eliminating the
option of installing Linux OS on PS consoles….
“PlayStation 3 Cluster” -
SCOP3 - A Rough Guide to Scientific Computing On the PlayStation 3
(Buttari, Luszczek, Kurzak, Dongarra, Bosilca, University of
Tennessee, Knoxville 2007)
Beyond Gaming: Programming the PS3 Cell Architecture for Cost-Effective
Parallel Processing (Rabbah, IBM Watson Center, Austria 2007)

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