“Would you like to play a game?”

Many people around my age or older probably recognize that line from the 1983 film “War Games” starring Matthew Broderick.  The WOPR, a military supercomputer puts the US and Soviet armies on high alert when David Lightman (Broderick) hacks into it thinking it is a game developer’s.  Needless to say, playing “Global Thermonuclear War” online with an unknown computer might not have been the best idea.

Now this might not be the most recent news, but I just uncovered it and found it kind of interesting.  The US Airforce is procuring 2200 Sony PS3s to network together into a supercomputing cluster.  As I trolled some of the tech blogs most were making jokes about what kind of gaming may be going on behind closed doors, but apparently the PS3 is actually a very good platform for creating an efficient and inexpensive supercomputing cluster.  While I don’t really understand the technology, the PS3 is powered by the “Cell” processor which sounds like it is quite well suited to the task.

USAF-PS3-Cluster

US Airforce PS3 Cluster Computing

The Ps3 apparently has become the predomenent platform for distributed computing applications like Folding@Home.  In fact, the PS3 holds a record for most petaFLOPS of computing power applied to the Folding project.  The PS3 has also provided a platform for cluster computing for the physics department at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.  Called the PlayStation 3 Gravity Grid, it consists of 16 PS3s used to simulate black holes.  So, some pretty cool uses beyond just playing games.

The real question is how does it make you feel that your tax dollars are being used to buy up a relatively huge quantity of console game systems?  While they claim to be using them for crunching numbers and processing things like video feeds and radar displays how long will it take for some hacker to find their way in looking to play some high end video games?  What about all those military people just itching to break out the video games?  Are we in for a real life version of war games in the future?