The U.S. Air Force has submitted a procurement request for 2,200 new PS3 units to supplement the 336 that are already employed at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY.
A recent InformationWeek article reveals that Rome hosts the Air Force Research Laboratory's information directorate, where the military is conducting research on the possibilities of supercomputing "to determine the best fit for implementation of various applications" that take advantage of networked PS3 Cell processors running Linux. Both commercial and internally-developed software is being tested in an effort to discover possible military applications for a PS3 supercomputing network; so far the Air Force has had success employing the cluster to quickly process high-def video, compile multiple radar images into high-res composites and even create computers with human brain-like qualities, known as "neuromorphic computing."
This research is being funded by U.S tax dollars, as the Air Force Research Laboratory information directorate won a US$2 million grant from the Department of Defense as part of their High Performance Computing Modernization Program. The funding is intended to further development and evaluation of supercomputing technology, and indeed the information directorate evaluated several alternatives (including traditional linked Xeon servers) before settling on the PS3 as the most powerful and cost-effective option.
The PS3 is valued chiefly for it's powerful Cell processor and welcoming attitude towards alternate operating systems like Linux, which allows groups like U.S. Customs Enforcement's Cyber Crime Center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to build supercomputers capable of mimicking neurological functions or cracking pedophile passwords.