When Sony issued a recent PlayStation 3 update removing the device's ability
to install alternate operating systems like Linux, it did so to protect
copyrighted content—but several research projects suffered collateral damage.

The Air Force is one example. The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New
York picked up 336 PS3 systems in 2009 and built itself a 53 teraFLOP processing
cluster. Once completed as a proof of concept, Air Force researchers then scaled
up by a factor of six and went in search of 2,200 more consoles (later scaled
back to 1,700). The $663,000 contract was awarded on January 6, 2010, to a small
company called Fixstars that could provide 1,700 160GB PS3 systems to the

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