This PS3 isn't just for games: it can help science

Dr. Gaurav Khanna, an astrophysicist and a supercomputer genius, used an extraordinary combination of science and software to research black holes. He networked 16 PlayStation 3 consoles to help model black-hole collisions.

Gaurav Khanna

Dr. Gaurav Khanna refers to Supercomputers as the third pillar of science.

An astrophysicist and a supercomputer genius, Dr. Khanna used an extraordinary combination of science and software to research black holes. He networked 16 PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles to help model black-hole collisions. Because black holes cannot be observed directly through telescopes, Dr. Khanna uses the supercomputer he built to create simulations of the collisions instead. 

Following the do-it-yourself approach, Dr. Khanna acquired 400 additional PS3s and built a much larger supercomputer inside a refrigerated semi-trailer on campus.

“What he accomplished with those PS3s was quite different from what Sony corporate may have intended," stated an article on Space

According to The New York Times, "Lior Burko, an associate professor of Physics at Georgia Gwinnet College and a past collaborator with Dr. Khanna, praised the idea as an 'ingenious' way to get the function of a supercomputer without the prohibitive expense.”

In 2010, the Air Force Research Lab built its own PlayStation 3 supercomputer using 1,716 consoles to conduct radar image processing for urban surveillance.

Dr. Khanna's current research mainly deals with binary black-hole coalescence using pertubation theory. It is related to estimating the properties of gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes.

An extensive research program is being carried out about the theoretical prediction of Einstein regarding gravitational waves by the NSF LIGO laboratory. Einstein's predicitions that gravitational waves are ripples in space-time travelling at the speed of light have never been directly observed before.

More information

PlayStation 3 Gravity Grid

Prof. Gaurav Khanna


College of Engineering