Installing Linux on the PlayStation 3
- Brief Introduction to the Cell Processor
- An Overview of the Linux-PS3 Installation Process
One of the most exciting aspects of the PlayStation 3 is that it allows users to install an alternative operating system. You can't overwrite Sony's GameOS or access privileged resources, but you can run your own applications on the new Cell Broadband Engine processor (called the CBE processor or the Cell for short). The Cell is the mighty brain of the PlayStation 3, and this article explains how to access it by installing Linux on the console.
Brief Introduction to the Cell Processor
Before you start the installation, it helps to have a basic understanding of the target system. The Cell is composed of nine processing cores: eight Synergistic Processor Units (SPUs) and one Power Processor Unit (PPU).
The SPUs were designed for high-speed number crunching, and each operates on multiple values at once. When you read about the Cell's performance in Folding@Home or in the Roadrunner supercomputer, the extraordinary speed is provided by the SPUs.
The PPU, on the other hand, was designed for general-purpose processing. It's not particularly fast, but it's well suited for running an operating system and managing the SPUs. You can think of the PPU as the coachman in an eight-horse carriage; it makes high-level decisions and keeps the horses in line.