PlayStation 3 as Linux Enterprise Server

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The PlayStation 3 is, without doubt, a multi-talented piece of kit: state of the art games console, Blu-Ray player, media centre and more. Much more, in fact, because from the 1st June you will be able to add Linux Enterprise Server to the functionality list.

That is the date from which you will be able to download an installer from which will bring HELIOS’ optimized Yellow Dog Linux v5.0, utilizing the IBM 64-bit 3.2 GHz Cell processor in the PS3, and in turn will run HELIO UB, the enterprise client server.

Certainly as far as I am aware, this will be the first instance of the PS3 being used for a business server solution. OK, so the whole point of this little exercise is to enable the HELIOS sales team to show off its software to potential customers. But that doesn’t lessen the impact of being able to run the demonstration, complete with bundled software worth thousands (albeit on a 4 hour time limit per session) on a machine costing so little when compared to your average Apple Xserves or IBM Blade Server,

The Linux installer is customised to make the best use of the limited memory available on the PS3. The disk image installs Yellow Dog Linux in under 10 minutes, with a configuration designed to optimise performance offering 40% more memory than the standard config. The PS3 uses a 64-bit Cell processor that runs at 3.2 GHz, is PowerPC compatible with 256 MB of main memory, and has performance comparable to a G5 single CPU. The PS3 comes with the NVIDIA RSX Graphics Processing Unit, has a 60 GB 2.5" swappable serial ATA disk and offers WLAN and Gigabit Ethernet for network connectivity. Terra Soft's Yellow Dog Linux v5.0 is binary compatible with its release for the former Apple PowerPC product line and concurrent support for the Mercury Cell products and IBM Cell and pSeries servers.

Dr John Yardley, MD of HELIOS distributor JPY Plc, told me "it might seem like a crazy idea, but pound for pound the PS3 offers amazing power. I expect plenty of Linux enthusiasts will find good uses for the installation, which includes powerful tools like EtherShare and WebShare. Getting HELIOS running on the platform is akin to cramming a Spitfire engine into a Mini!"