U.S. Air Force Buying 2,200 PlayStation 3s

Since the PlayStation 3 went cheaper, slimmer and lighter, more people have been drawn to picking one up. Interestingly, the U.S. Air Force is now looking to grab 2,200 – yes, that's right – PS3 consoles to use as part of its supercomputing cluster.

Last year, the Air Force acquired at least 300 PS3s for test purposes of the Cell Broadband Engine. The systems, now numbering at 336 PS3 units, are at Air Force Research Laboratory's information directorate in Rome, N.Y.

Now the Air Force wishes to at another 2,200 consoles to the mix, which presumably means that the initial test batch yielded pleasing results.

According to InformationWeek, the Air Force has used the PS3 cluster to stitch multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images, video processing, and building computers with brain-like properties.

After inspecting the document on the Federal Business Opportunities site, it appears that the Air Force is not interested in the new, cheaper slim model. Rather, it is after the 160 GB model (CECHP01 or 989038) that was available in limited quantities before the 120 GB slim model arrived.

Also, it's likely that the Air Force is looking to run custom networking software on the PlayStation 3 consoles, meaning that it will need all the older, larger models which support the installation of custom operating systems such as Linux. While the Air Force can do its own hard drive upgrades, it will have to run to grab the older hardware model before they're all gone.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, the latest in a long line of tech-focused roles spanning a more than 20-year career in the industry. As Executive Editor, News on Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, Marcus was responsible for shaping the sites' news output, and he also spent a period as Editor of Outdoors & Sports at Digital Trends.