MET Office Super Computer Has PS3 ProcessorsThe MET Office purchased a new P-Series IBM super computer in May last year which is 30 times faster than their old one. It cost £33 million, and it uses the Cell Broadband Engine processors - the same as the PS3! Of course they have added 13TB of memory and an array of hard disks totalling 550TB in storage space.
The down side is that it requires a lot of power to keep this running 24 hours a day - 1.2 Megawatts in fact. It also won't be fully ready until 2011 but will reach 1 Petaflop, or 1 quadrillion floating point operations per second which makes it the second most powerful computer in the country.
The current most power computer in the world is also from IBM and called the Roadrunner. It has reached almost 1.5 Petaflops but should be capable of of 1.7 Petaflops. This one cost $133 million (£81.8 million). It is a hybrid computer using 6,480 1.8GHz AMD Opteron dual-core processors and 12,960 3.2GHz PowerXCell processors. Each PowerXCell has a single PPE (Power Processor Element used for general purpose stuff) and 8 SPE's (Synergistic Processor Elements used for floating point operations). This may sound familiar as the PS3 uses a very similar Cell processor also running at 3.2GHz with 8 SPE's but one is disabled at manufacture time.
The new PS3 Slim (to be officially released in 2 days on 1st September 2009) apparently has a new version of the Cell processor inside which is produced using a 45nm process rather than the 65nm process used in the original PS3s. This has led to it using 40% less power and taking up 34% less space. It is also cheaper to produce hence the price drop. Yay!