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Home » Featured, News

Record-Breakers Used the Power of the PS3

Submitted by on Wednesday, 15 July 2009One Comment

cluster ps3It is no secret that the PS3 is a monster of computational whizz-bangery.

Indeed, with the Folding at Home project directly integrated into the PS3 XMB, Sony have been keen to get academics taking the power of a multi-PS3 cluster seriously.

The latest demonstration of the collective ability of the PS3 comes from a collaborative project between individuals from Switzerland, the USA and – get this – Microsoft Research!

The project was underway between January and June of 2009, and focussed on the analysis of the 112-bit Prime ECDLP (elliptic discrete curve logarithm problem).

There are all sorts of complex mathematical theories behind the work that has gone into this project – the computing phase of which took almost six months to process.

We won’t bore you with all the details – mostly because we don’t fully understand it all ourselves.

The general idea is that a record was set for solving the ECDLP in 2002, when a group solved the problem using a 109-bit prime finite field. This took 10,000 members, 549 days, and between 4,000 and 5,000 computers to achieve.

Not only have the team – based at the Lab for Cryptologic Algorithms at the EPFL – broken the previous record in terms of time, they have also increased the field from 109 to 112-bit.

Let’s be honest; this means little to the average Joe like us. However, this does mean a lot for the academics out there with power-hungry calculations to be done. It demonstrates what can be achieved when you use the right equipment for the right process in the right way.

It seems that the team even had someone with roots in Microsoft involved with the project. Given that there is no love lost between Sony and Microsoft, the concept of someone from Microsoft working on a cluster of PS3s for such a vast undertaking makes us wonder.

Was the cluster running Microsoft proprietary software?

We can only wonder how that went down, if so…