Sony Playstation-2 VPU: A Study on the Feasibility of Utilizing Gaming Vector Hardware for Scientific Computing

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Abstract One of the driving forces pushing the demand,for increased computational power in consumer- oriented devices is the video gameindustry. Video games, in the past decade, have demonstrated an insatiable desire for computing,hardware thataccelerates a certain subset of mathematical operations related to efficient rendering of graphical objects on the computer,screen. Quite conveniently, these same mathematical operations used to accelerate computer graphics also are capable of accelerating common,operations in the realm of scientific computing. Sony Corporation has invested quite heavily in producing complete computing,platforms to accelerate computer graphics. Its offering, the Sony Playstation-2, exposes to software developers a wide array of computationaldevices that specifically assist in accelerating common graphics related operations, such as vector mathematics. In addition, Sony has offered to the developer community the open-source Linux operating system. The combination of Linux, open source development tools, and detailed developer information allows for the investigation of the feasibility of future use of commodity video gaming hardware for the acceleration of scientific calculations. This document,details our investigation and assessment of the potential of the

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... In [11] the possibilities to use the PlayStation 2 for scientific computing (in chemistry). They achieved some speedup, but no dramatic improvements. ...
Abstract Modern,3D computer,games,consist of several highly,computationally,intensive tasks, with a high memory bandwidth requirement. The Sony PlayStation 2 is a popular game,console that contains several special processors (called the Emotion,Engine) to of- fer these performance,requirements,at a competitive,price. To achieve this performance parallelism in applications need to be found and exploited. To investigate the possible application speedup,different application mappings,have been done,using a JPEG decoder,and several 3D rendering,kernels. The 3D kernels are used because,the most speedup,is to be expected,in these ’native’ algorithms. To inves- tigate more,general multimedia,processing,we used a JPEG decoder,because,it contains the block based IDCT image,decompression,found,in most popular,video coding,stan- dards. We investigate,why,different mappings,give the specific speedup.,Experiments show,that applications that do not easily fit in the typical 3D rendering,stream,found,in games, do not map that well on the hardware and thus give only a limited speedup. We propose,several changes,to the PlayStation 2 architecture to overcome,these limitations and make,the PlayStation 2 more suited for other application domains. We compare,this new,version with the upcoming,PlayStation 3 Cell architecture. We conclude,that the high processing,power,offered by the PlayStation 2 architec- ture is difficult to use in applications,that differ much,from,3D games.,Some of the suggestions we make for a better PlayStation 2 are present in the Cell processor, that is targeted at more,applications than games. Contents
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