PS3 Turned Into A Linux Server

PS3 Turned Into A Linux Server

Digital workflow specialist HELIOS has tapped into the power of the Playstation 3 platform. The games console features the incredibly powerful Cell processor, which is needed to run games in high definition and amazing detail. HELIOS has customised a version of Linux to allow its server suite to run on the PS3 hardware.

The free installer will be available from the UK distributor's website from 1st of June, follow the download tab above. It utilises Yellow Dog Linux v5.0 as its operating system, and it includes a test drive version of HELIOS UB, the enterprise client server solution. It is believed that this is the first instance of the games platform being used for a business server solution.

The reasons for porting HELIOS to the PS3 are more than simply showing off programming skills of the HELIOS team. It is of course more usual to have the enterprise software running on much more expensive platforms, such as IBM blade servers or Apple Xserves. But the PS3 is capable of lighter duties, and will be used by the HELIOS sales team to demonstrate the software to customers. With fully loaded servers running into multiple thousands of pounds, a compact demonstration server for under GBP 500 makes perfect sense.

The HELIOS bundle included on the disc image will run for four hours at a time, allowing users to see what HELIOS can do. Software bundled would cost over GBP 10,000, and getting it to run on a GBP 425 gaming platform is quite a feat.

Dr John Yardley, MD of HELIOS distributor JPY Plc, said 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!
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.

Advantages of the HELIOS PS3 Linux installation:

- Free download from HELIOS web site

- Easy installation, ready to run in a few minutes

- Excellent Linux on PS3 documentation from HELIOS

- Dedicated server operating system with optimized performance (40% more memory available)

- Java 1.5 runtime is pre-installed

- Easy maintenance shell from CD

- HELIOS services are pre-installed as a test drive