Experiments in scientific computation on the PlayStation 3


The Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) offers the computational power of a parallel processor at low cost, which makes it a great starter unit for development in parallel programming. To explore the capabilities of the unit, we took a simple ray tracing program and extended it to render triangulated height field data across the PS3’s 6 synergistic processing units (SPUs). We also implemented the heat averaging equation as a precursor to CFD analysis on the PS3. In our studies, we found the Cell engine in the PS3 to be a powerful machine, however great care must be taken while developing because its unique platform calls for many levels of optimization to ensure efficiency.

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We acknowledge discussions with Prof. Paul Woodward and help from Spring Liu. This research was supported by the Middleware grant of IF program of National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Erik O. D. Sevre.

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For insight on early work done on modern stream computing and GPU processing look up the Merrimac project and Pat Hanrahan.

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Sevre, E.O.D., Christiansen, M.D., Broten, M. et al. Experiments in scientific computation on the PlayStation 3. Vis Geosci 13, 125–132 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10069-008-0015-x

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  • Computational Fluid Dynamic
  • Graphic Processing Unit
  • Main Memory
  • Message Passing Interface
  • Single Instruction Multiple Data