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US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sounds-like-an-act-of-terrorism-to-me dept.

PlayStation (Games) 349

tlhIngan writes "The US Air Force, having purchased PS3s for supercomputing research, is now the latest victim of Sony's removal of the Install Other OS feature. It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail. PS3s with the Other OS feature are no longer produced since the Slim was introduced, so replacements will have to come from the existing stock of used PS3s. However, as most gamers have probably updated their PS3s, that used stock is no longer suitable for the USAF's research. In addition, smaller educational clusters using PS3s will share the same fate — unable to replace machines that die in their clusters." In related news, Sony has been hit with two more lawsuits over this issue.

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Sony is a terrorist organization (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191026)

Bomb them to hell if they don't bring back this feature, vital for national security.

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191166)

Benjamin Franklin said it best. "Anyone who would trade money for something produced by Sony deserves neither, and will lose both."

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191380)

Bomb them to hell if they don't bring back this feature, vital for national security.

This was their plan all along.

It's payback for Hiroshima.

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (4, Insightful)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191426)

How about this:

Ban them forever from selling to the US Gov.

You know, the whole "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me"

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191476)

Sorry, but you had a president who changed that and you're not "with us" if you don't know the new version.

-"Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me ... you can't get fooled again."

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191662)

Is this going to be like how "normalcy" is apparently a word now?

Re:Sony is a terrorist organization (4, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191800)

You know, the whole "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me"

No, no. You have it all wrong. Here's the actual quote:

There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- [pauses] - shame on you. Fool me -- You can't get fooled again. - George Bush, September 17, 2002.

COTS = COST (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191048)

There's been a big push in recent years to move to "COTS" (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions in the government - the military in particular. And while this may be find for things like holsters, backpacks, and office chairs, I think this highlights for EVERYONE, not just bright young aquisitions officers, that sometimes taking COTS technology and using it for your highly specific and critical application is not the best choice. Unfortunately, sometimes (sometimes!) big, expensive, and proprietary in-house solutions really are the best.

(heh. captcha is 'acquire')

Re:COTS = COST (2, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191066)

Levenshtein disagrees.

Re:COTS = COST (4, Insightful)

Brad Eleven (165911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191114)

Meh. Big, expensive, proprietary in-house solutions are rarely the best IMHO. The USAF could have made a deal with Sony.

Re:COTS = COST (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191132)

Or just bought a PS3 commercial developers kit and bypassed all of this.

Re:COTS = COST (2, Informative)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191534)

But those are expensive, defeating the purpose of using PS3s in the first place. They could have gone to IBM and bulk ordered a pile of CELL equipped blade servers but its cheaper to buy the PS3 which Sony, like every other console manufacturer, sells below cost and make up the difference with game sales.

Re:COTS = COST (2, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191646)

You only need a small number of them, to compile and package for the other units.

Re:COTS = COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191774)

Except Nintendo.

Re:COTS = COST (1)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191614)

Not sure that the GameOS would support the necessary software stack, such as MPI.

Re:COTS = COST (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191682)

You are not limited to the Sony supplied OS with the dev kit.

Re:COTS = COST (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191140)

There was no need to assume Sony would pull a stunt like this. After all, you can't buy a PS3 with otherOS support. Why? Selling at a loss? Hardly. Sont were more than happy to sell the PS3 as a blu-ray player and there are a hell of a lot more of them as players only than there are research clusters. Piracy? There is no piracy, Geohot got a memory dump, or so he claimed. He's failed to deliver an exploit, data, code, examples, he's only shown a very fake looking video. Sony dropped otherOS from the slim, so this has been on the cards for a while.

There's a reason Sony is the #1 hated tech company. And that takes some doing considering Apple and MS.

Re:COTS = COST (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191180)

Not really. It should highlight the fact that you should always require a second source for any off the shelf products that you're buying. If you go for a single-vendor solution, you are totally at the mercy of their whims, when it comes to pricing and availability. A big in-house proprietary system would have cost more, in this case, than simply buying twice as many PS/3s as they required. The Cell is now starting to look dated, and by the time they actually need to replace this system they could just throw it away and build a new one based on whatever the latest GPGPU design is at the time.

Do you really think that replacement nodes in a big SGI machine cost less than a couple of PS/3s? Or that the price doesn't shoot up rapidly once SGI moves on to the next design? Or that there's a large second-hand market for them?

Re:COTS = COST (5, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191194)

Proprietary in-house solutions aren't even always the more expensive choice. It's too bad these decisions are often made poorly.

Outsourcing is good, focus on core business, buy-not-build, standardise, 80-20 solutions... all of these make sense, but I am dealing too often with the mess made by people turning these good pieces of advise into thoughtless mantras and moronic MBA one-liners, as a replacement for thoughtful and informed decision making. A lot of todays leadership doesn't want to make decisions; they look for rules to make their decisions for them.

Re:COTS = COST (5, Insightful)

teg (97890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191242)

Systems like these have a very limited lifespan. The military saved a lot of money upfront. The consequence of this is that the number of active nodes in the cluster might go down slightly during the system's remaining lifespan (a couple of years, not more). Negative impact? Yes. But enough so that spending many times the amount on getting custom built hardware would be worth it? Very unlikely. And if you go a couple of levels up the hierarchy, risks like this - and cost savings - are averaged out over many acquisitions and projects. I think your conclusion is extremely unlikely.

Re:COTS = COST (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191250)

And a lesson for the consumer: no matter what you're told about super-computer nonsense, the product is just a games console, and will always just be a games console in Sony's eyes.

Re:COTS = COST (1)

Aradiel (1631073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191844)

Not only that, but it will always be their games console which you have paid to borrow.

Re:COTS = COST (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191450)

Or they could have gone with nVidia/ATI or something similar

Or Cell PCI-X boards for PC (IIRC there are some)

Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (4, Interesting)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191452)

There's been a big push in recent years to move to "COTS" (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions in the government - the military in particular. And while this may be find for things like holsters, backpacks, and office chairs, I think this highlights for EVERYONE, not just bright young aquisitions officers, that sometimes taking COTS technology and using it for your highly specific and critical application is not the best choice. Unfortunately, sometimes (sometimes!) big, expensive, and proprietary in-house solutions really are the best.

No, what it drives home is that, when you purchase a piece of hardware, it belongs to you, and no vendor should have the legal right to modify what you have purchased without your consent, nor to coerce consent for modifications that reduce or cripple the capabilities of something you have purchased.

Maybe now that military and commercial interests are being impacted, we can get the barest modicum of consumer protection to outlaw this shit (and similar, retroactive software modifications as well, such as Steve Jobs foists upon his hapless iPhone slaves ... it all eventually amounts to the same thing, and puts a lot more than the military at risk).

I know for our trading platforms we would never tolerate this kind of thing from a vendor (and Apple has lost out on this on more than one occasion for exactly this reason). I'm amazed the military hasn't come down on Sony like a ton of bricks -- a large investment bank certainly would have.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (1, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191516)

No, what it drives home is that, when you purchase a piece of hardware, it belongs to you, and no vendor should have the legal right to modify what you have purchased without your consent, nor to coerce consent for modifications that reduce or cripple the capabilities of something you have purchased.

Sony aren't modifying the USAFs PS3's - they have removed the OS from new versions of the PS3, which means the USAF cannot buy replacements for dead units. Sony hasn't actually done anything 'evil' in this case, its a non-story.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (5, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191680)

They HAVE done something evil.

They produced a product (the fat PS3) and included (and advertised) the OtherOS feature and its ability to run Linux.

They then removed that function.

If a car maker sold you a car with a satnav built into the in-car entertainment system and advertised that the car came with a satnav and then proceeded to remove the satnav function when you took it into the dealer for a service, you would have every right to be angry at the car maker for removing this feature.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191722)

In *this* case they have not done anything like you are suggesting - in *this* case the equivalent car analogy would be if you bought a car with satnav, drove it around for a while and then went back to the dealer and bought another car, but between the two purchases the dealer had removed the option from sale.

The firmware update issue does not apply here - the USAF's issues are not related to a firmware update, they are related to Sony no longer selling new PS3's with the feature advertised on older models.

So in *this* case they have not done anything 'evil'. Sony's promise of a feature to you with regard to your old purchase does not stand with regard to a new purchase. Now, I agree that they have completely fucked up with regard to teh firmware update killing already purchased features, but thats not at issue here.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191832)

You're wrong. You're just fucking wrong and you're another Slashtard who has a problem with basic reading comprehension. I'm really getting sick of you sniveling shits acting like you're being so put upon because not everyone cares to support your favorite open source project.

This is just another reason I hope people shit on Linux and never use it again. I hope it loses even more support because of fuckfaces such as yourself. You're a bitch. So go ahead... cry for us bitch. Cry to suck on that Linux dick.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191888)

Apparently, you can't send a unit in for service, even if under warranty or a pay-for-service deal, and not get a complementary upgrade to the latest firmware. How much of this is sinister, and how much is just because "service" probably often means "throw away/send for rework the one they sent, grab another from the pile-o-refurbs", and the service drones simply can't downgrade the firmware on the one from the pile-o-refurbs, is unclear.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191822)

I'm amazed the military hasn't come down on Sony like a ton of bricks -- a large investment bank certainly would have.

What recourse does the Air force have? Sony didn't reach into their data center and push the update to their cluster. From the Air Forces perspective, all Sony has done is modify their product so that future purchases will not fill their needs. All the Air Force can do is to not make future purchases of PS3's, which is something that they probably have no plans of doing in bulk anyway (except of course as the TFA states to replace dead units).

Sony is probably burning a bridge with the USAF, it was probably a really good marketing tool for them to be able to say the USAF uses a cluster of PS3's. I don't think Sony really cares.

If the USAF has a problem they are perfectly free to replace this system with something else, or can start manufacturing their own solution.

Re:Retroactive crippling of hw should be illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191900)

What recourse does the Air force have?

Well, if there's an all-out fight between SONY and the USAF, I know who my money is on.

Re:COTS = COST (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191742)

I think you are absolutely correct. That "sometimes" is something that people miss out on. Program keep in mind that each application requires its own careful consideration. I work on a program that uses a lot of different hardware, which is a mix of COTS and in-house tech. It is a BIG selling point that our program makes use of COTS hardware. It can make the initial design and development a bear, but once you have software and systems in place to integrate the various pieces of hardware it offers some cost savings during production. It all depends on what you are trying to build.

Is there COTS hardware that is built to do exactly/close to exactly what you want it to do? And does its manufacturer offer decent support and help troubleshoot systems integration issues? If the answer to both is Yes then you might be in a good place to use COTS. Or, if the equipment is simple enough that internal staff can reasonably be expected to be able to tear it apart and divine its inner workings without breaking the bank.

Some of the biggest headaches come when programs try to blend the two; trying to contract out developing or re-purposing someone else's in-house technology. Support and feedback during development can be a nightmare. But of course, if nothing currently exists for the application you need what other choice do you have?

Sounds good to me (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191104)

This is a good data point for the research, assuming they are interested in results other than performance, as it will show that a dependency on non replaceable hardware or hardware beyond their control isn't that great in the long run.

Re:Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191212)

We tried this in the Space Station program years ago. Spent millions adapting from COTS, only to see that when you were done, it was neither COTS, nor specialty. If the manufacturer changed the hardware, updated, reworked the product line, all your efforts had to be repeated. Did Congress listen? What do you think?

And suddenly PS3 sales drop by 80%? (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191106)

What, the USAF was the only buyer of PS3s, and now suddenly that they can't use them, nobody wants them... the market will be flooded with $0.10 used PS3s nobody can actually use for anything useful.

not necessarily impossible (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191112)

It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail.

Unless they, y'know, get directly in touch with Sony and tell them what they're trying to do. I'm sure in a case like this that something can be worked out. Instead of actual reporting and checking up on the situation, we instead get people using words like "impossible". There are many things that happen every single day that fall into this same category of "impossible", and yet they happen...

Sony's angle (-1, Troll)

ma11achy (150206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191136)

I'm trying to see Sony's angle on this and my opinion is that they're about to drop the entire kaboodle that is the PS3 after failing so miserably against giants like the Wii and the XBox 360.

They don't want the extra work involved in maintaining what is in essence, a virtual machine on their flagging games console.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-PS3 fanboy, it's the only games console I own.

Re:Sony's angle (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191262)

You are a 360 fanboiy and don't even know it sir.

Here are this weeks game sales numbers on a newer games just out on both platforms.

Super Street Fighter IV
PS3 sales: 280,049
X360 sales: 189,897

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
PS3 sales:157,589
x360 sales: 112,275

It looks to me like the PS3 is now .destroying. the xbox 360 in terms of game sales. The WII is really a different market and I don't think the xbox or ps3 'lost' to them, the WII just opened up a new untouched market that everyone else wish they had a part of :}

Source http://www.vgchartz.com/weekly.php?date=40307&boxartz=1#
(The first hit on a google search for game sales)

Re:Sony's angle (1)

ma11achy (150206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191276)

Interesting....I hadn't seen this.

I'll make sure to do more research in future before opening my mouth ;-)

Well they have the bargaining power (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191144)

Well they have the bargaining power. Like, if you don't supply us with an OS install feature you better get nervous when you see an aircraft flying towards your headquarters. Or maybe you won't see a thing. Accidents happen you know

Re:Well they have the bargaining power (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191444)

the problem is that area of japan has a rather large number of embassies in the same area

Re:Well they have the bargaining power (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191568)

Not a problem. US missiles have a highly accurate targeting system. Its calculations are powered by a cluster of PS3s.

Re:Well they have the bargaining power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191648)

That worked out well when Clinton wanted to send the Chinese a memo in the Yugo War, didn't it?

Re:Well they have the bargaining power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191672)

not a problem. ask China if you don't believe me.

Obvious outcome (0)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191154)

Using PS3s for anything, especially non-gaming research applications seemed like a really bad idea in the first place. A game console is nothing but an overpriced, crippled computer. Sure, the multi-core cell processor might be great for some things, but I doubt that they couldn't have found something better for the same price. Plus there is the issue of control. You can only get so far hacking PS3s. And doing so takes a lot of time that could have been spent elsewhere. There is only one vendor who sells PS3s; if they had gone with general purpose x86 computers, they could still get their parts from other manufacturers.

On the side of the USAF, though, Sony's crippling devices after the fact took a lot of people by surprise. Everybody knew that they gave themselves that ability in the TOS (along with everything else), but few would have predicted that they would actually use it.

Re:Obvious outcome (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191224)

Apparently, for the particular bit of number-crunching that they were doing, Cell curb-stomped x86. They then concluded that, if you want Cell, your only options are a few absurdly expensive specialist compute servers(IBM makes one, Sony at least has a model number, I think that there are one or two others) or cheap PS3s. Since, when the started, OtherOS was a standard, supported, option, the only "hacking" involved was the inconvenience of having to touch each machine to kick off the install.

Had their algorithm not suited Cell, the PS3 would have been an absurd choice. Since it did, though, it was actually pretty sensible(barring Sony's hard-to-predict action).

Re:Obvious outcome (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191252)

Well, PS3s were marketed with Other Os feature. And they offered the same computing power cheaper than PCs. When PS3 came out you could barely buy dual-core processors PCs for the same price. (The PS3 has 7 cores running on 3.2 GHz.)

All this backlash will mean one thing (1)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191156)

The Sony PS4 will not come with a Linux option *at all*

Re:All this backlash will mean one thing (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191232)

I don't care about that and I doubt many others do either. What I do care about is that Sony is getting the recognition it deserves on this matter. You simply cannot do this to consumers and expect to get away with it. Sony is building a history of such behaviors including lobbying for law that excludes them from prosecution when accessing computers across the internet searching for infringing copyrighted content, the installation of their rootkits and this removal of features debacle. While people continue to chant "well, don't buy from Sony!" I have to say I am glad to see that more and more people are taking notice and are saying the same thing -- Don't buy from Sony!

Law suits and criminal charges aren't enough to stop Sony. People have to stop buying from Sony to make Sony care. I'm just one guy... I won't buy another VAIO, another Walkman, another Clie', another camcorder, another TV, a PS(X), another DVD or CD with Sony/BMG on the label. Nothing. Not another penny. And the more attention this draws, during a time when people are still a bit more cautious and thoughtful where they spend their pennies than ever before, more people will be joining me in my boycott of anything Sony.

And this message isn't just for Sony. It is a message for any other company out there who would try the same thing.

Re:All this backlash will mean one thing (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191336)

I won't buy another VAIO

Personally I recently refrained from buying a $2k+ Sony projector due to their behaviour. It probably performed a bit better than my second choice, but buy from Sony and you get screwed one way or another. The company is not getting another cent from me.

Re:All this backlash will mean one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191376)

Like it was going to come with that option before the backlash.

Opportunity? (3, Interesting)

vodevil (856500) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191182)

This will be a good opportunity for the government to see how good hacking/jailbreaking/etc. is, and they can install geohot's fix so they don't lose linux support.

Re:Opportunity? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191228)

This will be a good opportunity for the government to see how good hacking/jailbreaking/etc. is ...

If the fix would void the hardware warranty/support warranty that USAF has with Sony, there is no way the USAF would jailbreak those PS3s. In the end, this is not a decision one man is making about the PS3 cluster he owns.

Re:Opportunity? (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191270)

O really? It's actually cost effective to do so when you're stuck with no replacement parts at all. And the Feds have a nifty thing they do where lawsuits just magically get dismissed for national security purposes. If they want to haxxor the thing so that they have guaranteed replacements, they can do it. And it will likely be the most cost effective and least damaging choice.

Re:Opportunity? (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191280)

really?

if the options are

1) buy PS3 for $500 each and completely void the warantee
2) buy some other cell computer for $5000 with support

then - in the context that they know this system works already, I don't see how they could do anything other than buy the PS3s and get some extra ones for backup.

[numbers for illustrative purposes only, I can't be bothered to check what a ps3 costs]

Re:Opportunity? (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191436)

We also checked out both options for our lab at the university. At that time (3 years back), a PS3 was EUR 600. The only way to get a "cell computer" was via IBM blades. The cheapest blade chassis *without any blade* cost $17,000. I don't remember the price of the individual blades. At that price point, I'm not sure whether using the Cell architecture is still price-efficient (which is presumably the reason why they went with it in the first place; at least it won't be because of how easy it is to program).

Re:Opportunity? (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191566)

We also checked out both options for our lab at the university. At that time (3 years back), a PS3 was EUR 600. The only way to get a "cell computer" was via IBM blades.

That's odd. Mercury Computer has had a "cell accelerator board" for $8K since the last quarter of 2006. Basically its a cell processor in a PCIe slot.
Second generation is here: http://www.mc.com/products/boards/accelerator_board2.aspx [mc.com]

Maybe they had export problems with it, although they announced it at a singapore trade show.

Pay no attention to that bearded man in Tehran (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191802)

In the grand scheme of things, I have to wonder if the US government and EU are pretty happy with Sony's decision here. While, yes, they'll be force to spend more money on systems to replicate what they were doing with their PS3 clusters, the PS3 clusters in Iran and North Korea will degrade, too.

Re:Opportunity? (1)

Trisha-Beth (9231) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191610)

The Sony warranty is worth nothing to them. It may even have negative value. Anything sent back for warranty repair/replacement would be updated to the useless version of the firmware.

Re:Opportunity? (1)

VMaN (164134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191762)

The problem isn't that the ps3s are getting upgraded, they're not connected. The problem is that any node that needs replacement will end up with a newer unusable FW when bought or repaired.

Not really a surprise... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191188)

Sonysellsthethingwithaloss,sobuildingaclusterofthemdoesn'treallymakeyouavaluedcustomer.IthinkSonyiswithintheirrightstostopsupportingthiswithfutureunits,butdeservestobesuedformakingitpracticallymandatoryforexistingcustomers.Inanycase,buildinganyIT-infrastructurewithlongtermplansonagameconsoleisjuststupid.

Re:Not really a surprise... (1)

Procasinator (1173621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191234)

Why no spaces?

Re:Not really a surprise... (2, Funny)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191542)

The original post had spaces, but they were removed by Sony in a firmware update.

Oops! (2, Insightful)

number17 (952777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191210)

According to those news article dates, they aren't even half way thought the hardware refresh schedule. Looks like this little oversight by project planners is going to cost them. If they don't get sued, the cheapest way coulde be the manpower to break the DMCA and hack the things. Not sure if Sony's license allows you to flash the firmware with an older version. Otherwise, ebay for old models or start looking for replacement hardware. Although, perhaps doing nothing and letting them die out, its a cluster remember, won't have much of an impact beyond RAM and HD problems.

Re:Oops! (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191296)

Pretty sure the USAF is exempt from the DMCA for purposes of interoperability.

Re:Oops! (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191438)

The USAF's issue has nothing to do with the firmware update - its to do with the fact that the new PS3's do not support the Other OS feature at all, and the older PS3's that do support it (before the firmware update) are becoming hard to get hold of. The only link between the two issues (firmware and new hardware versions) are the lawsuit links at the bottom of the summary.

This would be a great time for Microsoft (2, Funny)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191216)

The XBox 360 has already been successfully used [gizmag.com] for scientific computing. Microsoft should move in for the kill with a modified 360 that includes a complete tool chain and a new clustering API.

Re:This would be a great time for Microsoft (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191272)

Except that they make a loss on every console sold and these guys aren't making up for it by buying games.

Re:This would be a great time for Microsoft (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191422)

Well, the same is true for PS3.

Re:This would be a great time for Microsoft (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191638)

The XBox 360 has already been successfully used for scientific computing.

According to the article, he's using the 360's GPU.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the 360's GPU must be at least 2 or 3 generations out of date by now and more easily replaced by a generic PC, high-end Nvidia video card and a software package like CUDA. An easier programming environment too, I imagine.

Re:This would be a great time for Microsoft (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191860)

xbox 360 is x86 based right? cell processor rips x86 a new one for the types of computations being performed by the AF. They could make the API as nice as they want, it'll still underperform.

This was already an issue (4, Informative)

Jizato (1536125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191230)

The slim PS3s didn't support the Other OS feature from launch, and when they started making the slim models they stopped producing the older ones that did support it. This has been an issue since Sept 2009.

Re:This was already an issue (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191284)

Previously you had a choice as to whether or not to update the firmware and they weren't doing it to previous models that shipped with the ability. Now they aren't giving you a meaningful choice and their patching the older machines to remove functionality. Hence why people are just now being so upset about it. Personally I think it was a dick move to not include it on the slim models without putting it very clearly on the packaging that it was a crippled machine, and not a real PS3.

Re:This was already an issue (2, Funny)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191928)

Personally I think it was a dick move to not include it on the slim models without putting it very clearly on the packaging that it was a crippled machine, and not a real PS3.

I don't mean to be rude, but I think you might need to adjust your definition of crippled. It is still a 'real' PS3, still plays Blu-Rays, PS3 games, connects to PSN, etc. They removed a theoretically popular feature that very few people actually took advantage, and that posed a mild security/piracy risk to Sony. They didn't send killbots out to peoples homes to force the update. They simply stopped offering this completely extraneous feature, and stopped supporting it.

For what its worth, I agree that it was inconsiderate on Sony's part to go about it the way they did.

My Sony Rip van Winkle story (3, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191246)

In the 90's, when I needed any electronic stuff, I used to look at Sony first. I bought most of my stuff from them, never had any problems, and was always satisfied with the product. Call it the highest level of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Then I fell asleep. I woke up about ten years later.

The Sony I knew then, was suddenly very, very different. Now, Sony will be the last on my list, when I need to make another electronic purchase. I really feel that Sony doesn't give a damn anymore about product quality and customer satisfaction.

Sony rootkiting your PC? Maybe I am still asleep, and having a nightmare . . .

Re:My Sony Rip van Winkle story (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191558)

Agreed, root kiting is a nightmare. I expect superusers to have the balls to engage me in melee directly.

Re:My Sony Rip van Winkle story (4, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191840)

The product quality from Sony still is top notch, it is their dreaded, we know better than you attitude. Example, buy a Sony car radio, excellent built quality, top notch production, but then you pull the key, it makes three annoying beeps loud as hell, to remind you to take off the front plate.
No there is no way to turn that off unless you build a bypass circuit to the speakers or let an amplifier do that.
Number one complaint about Sony card radios for the last 10 years, Sony knows this, are they going to change anything? No!
Same goes for Vayo notebooks, you have to get the drivers from sony, if the driver is faulty and the manufacturer has offered a different driver, which fixes it
you are not allowed to use it (there are hacks though), and Sony often does not deliver the driver anymore because that line of notebooks is discontinued.

It is their we know better than you attitude why I personally have Sony at the bottom of my hardware purchase list nowadays.
Others have shoddier hardware but the support and attided is what influences me to 80% on my purchases. For the same reason HTC has become
bottom provider, my next phone will be an official Google supported one, instead of going for the hardwarewise better HTC model.

Re:My Sony Rip van Winkle story (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191914)

Maybe you are, since the rootkit issue happened in 2005 and was born of the Sony BMG division, and the subsequent litigation sorted that out then too. The electronics division, the computer entertainment division and the computing devices divisions are in many ways entirely separate in how they go about their business.

I'm not saying Sony are angels or that there's no cross-divisional chatter by any means, but to tar the whole company with that broad a brush is hardly considering present circumstances. I'll at least credit the fact that they're starting to move away from their own proprietary formats, such as the adoption of SD over Memory Sticks. Sony's still driving technological innovation with the Cell chip, optical technology in Blu-ray and with OLED TVs, though it's sad to see the inventors of the Walkman fall so far by the wayside in the portable music player market.

Yeah they screwed up, but companies do that. It doesn't make them forever "evil".

Note: only Sony device I own is a Handycam, a tape Walkman and a previous Sony Ericsson phone, so I'm not an apologist by any means. I would like to see them driving innovation though.

What Suffering? (2, Insightful)

mc moss (1163007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191248)

"Sony's decision had no immediate impact on the cluster; for obvious reasons, the PS3s are not hooked into the PlayStation Network and don't need Sony's firmware updates. But what happens when a PS3 dies or needs repair? Tough luck."

The PS3 stopped supporting linux installations when they introduced the PS3 slim and stopped making the original one. Why is this even news?

Re:What Suffering? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191536)

Exactly! Cripes. When Sony stopped making consoles that had this feature, THEN it was an issue for the Air Force. The recent update doesn't change anything at all for them, unless they also want to play games on those consoles. (They don't.)

uhm, just repair it? (1)

plonk420 (750939) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191264)

it's not cheap, nor is it THAT expensive, but they can just send it in to Sony for repair. Sony didn't flash my 60gb when i had repair work done on it...

Re:uhm, just repair it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191548)

If I read the article correctly, Sony now does reflash repaired units

They bought PS/3s to save money? (0)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191290)

If they want the Cell processor they can always buy IBM BladeCenter servers. You can run Linux on those too.

The IBM iron will cost more, but I'd wager getting Sony to sell them PS/3s that will run Linux will also cost more -- a lot more.

I'd guess that originally they figured they could stretch their budget $$ by using PS/3s, and no doubt they did. But that was then and this is now.

Heck, I can't even get parts for my 1&1/2 year old mountain bike. Fortunately I bought it at REI and they'll let me return it for a full refund and then I can buy a new bike. REI FTW.

OT: what parts? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191360)

Heck, I can't even get parts for my 1&1/2 year old mountain bike. Fortunately I bought it at REI and they'll let me return it for a full refund and then I can buy a new bike. REI FTW.

Just curious. I have had problems sourcing pads for Hayes Sole brakes. Apart from that I am okay so far.

Re:OT: what parts? (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191616)

They can't get the rear suspension bushings.

The center pivot bushings have -- or had -- ball bearings in them. Totally destroyed. I'd say they were way under spec'ed. Actually I'm not sure why they ever had ball bearings to begin with. I suspect solid brass or bronze would have worked just fine and held up a lot better. I could get a set machined I suppose, but if REI will give me full refund for their inability to get $50 worth of replacement parts, who am I to argue.

And that's not the only thing that failed. The SRAM rear hub grenaded too, but I had a Mavic wheel/hub/rim that seems bulletproof. I'll have to swap the busted SRAM wheel back on before I return it.

Serves them right. (1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191292)

anyone who trusts microsoft, sony, apple dig their own grave.

Not a problem (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191320)

I think they are the only Sony's clients with tactical nuclear weapons.

what about folding? (2, Informative)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191330)

makes ya wonder what will happen to the Folding@Home client stats [stanford.edu] as PS3s die off and aren't replaced.

And who suffers in the end? Sick kids.
Oh, will someone think of the children!

Re:what about folding? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191502)

I thought even the Slims could fold?

Besides, GPUs knock the socks off the PS3 for folding. Just at the time the GPU client wasn't out so the PS3 was better than x86

All sales are negotiable (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191348)

If a branch of the US military wanted updatable PS3's they will be able to get them by paying extra for a large lot. All corporate salesman negotiate. To think otherwise is naive.

Ebay listing for my non-updated Phat PS3 is .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191378)

Ebay listing for my non-updated Phat PS3 is forthcoming. Further to the law suits, did Sony steal my online credit? How do I get a refund on my online credit when I can't log in.

sony rootkit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191390)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/sony_rootkit [wikipedia.org]

never forget, never forgive

Idea (4, Funny)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191488)

I have an idea... Let's make the PS3 useless, then sell a PS4 with the other OS option, when it's time to sell PS5 (to be nicknamed the piss) we will turn off the other OS option in the PS4. We can do this for 50 years before anyone catches on.

Re:Idea (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191838)

Looks like somebody had exactly the same idea. Just skipping the part where they call it PS4.

Is removing Linux really about security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191654)

Linux users don't suffer from viruses, I'm using Linux for 3 years without an anti-virus and never had a virus, so whose security is Sony concerned about by removing Linux? Or is it just an excuse to cover up some other reason?
Is there a bigger picture Sony's trying to hide?

Re:Is removing Linux really about security? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191870)

First, your argument is crap. Case in point: I've been using Windows desktop since Windows 3.1 and I've never had a virus on my personal Windows machines. That means *nothing*. It's like saying "I haven't died yet, so I must be immortal". Please don't spread bollocks about viruses and operating systems - I'm a Linux nut but that's just a way to lie to people about Linux's real security - the design. You can still get Linux or MacOS viruses the same as anyone else if you do the same stupid things on any OS (execute unknown programs, use programs with known security flaws, etc.).

Next - security does *not* imply anti-virus... by definition an anti-virus program can only do its job *after* security has already been breached and requires full administrator-level access to the machine in order to do so (and so becomes its own security problem).

Sony aren't concerned about "security"... it's a dumb line to use. They are concerned about piracy and people hacking their systems to run games that they have or have not paid for. Although that's "security" in one sense, it's not the type of computer security that you're discussing. Sony think they are combating game piracy, theoretical or actual, and thus there's no reason why their corporate/government/education customers should suffer. But they didn't bother to think about that and just "switched it off" without any real choice (not updating to the latest firmware isn't a "choice" - it's enforced obsolescence).

I don't really care whether the US military can do things using PS3 or not - it's a niche use, outside the scope of the product, unwarrantied and unsupported, by an organisation more than capable of working around such problems. And they *wouldn't* (or at least *shouldn't*) be shouting in the press if this was actually a real issue... US military supercomputing efforts hampered / hacked / controlled / dictated to by a Japanese company? Then you really deserve everything that you get. However, I do care (despite never owning one and never intending to own one) about the PS3's that were already sold not being "broken" or having functionality removed outside of the scope of various trade acts. That's just stupid, illegal and harming to the company. But then, I don't think I've ever bought anything from Sony in my life, and I've never even played on a PS3. If you were reliant on Sony to continue to "co-operate" in terms of support, then you should have had a contract with them. If they failed to abide by any contract you have with them (including implied contracts under trade laws), and they continue to fail to abide by them, then you sue them.

And next time you buy *anything*, briefly research the historical behaviour of the companies involved. If they act like a company you don't want to support, don't buy their products.

Put the old firmware back (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191670)

You'd have to do this at the hardware level. Are there any JTAG pads on the board? If not, clipping onto the firmware flash chip with the appropriate tool may be necessary. That, or some means to prevent the existing firmware from loading while loading a substitute into RAM, which will then reload the firmware flash.

First to figure this out might get a little military contract :-)

I dont get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191706)

theyve got access to the best and the brightest and they cant figure out how to put linux on a ps3 without a specific option to do so.....people have put it on watches for crying out loud

the only issue is the legal one.....get sony to agree to wave the issue but the warranty will be void and voila done

Research. (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191820)

"Purchased PS3s for supercomputing research". I definitely have to remember this one.

They are not going to suffer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32191906)

The US Taxpayer will suffer as they use more Mercury and/or IBM systems with Cell BE.

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