Print 35 comment(s) - last by exdeath.. on Aug 25 at 11:29 AM

Folding@Home, with HDR visualizations!

Future PS3 owners rejoice as Folding@Home will be available for the PS3 console. The Cure@PS3 project puts the PS3’s Cell processor to good use by folding proteins which is somewhat in line of Sony’s overconfidence of the PS3 rendering the PC useless. Folding@Home performance from the Cell processor is expected around 100 gigaflops per PS3 console and top out one petaflop with 10,000 PS3’s.

In addition to the 100 gigaflop protein folding capabilities, Cure@PS3 will have enhanced visualization features. The enhanced visualization capabilities will take advantage of HDR and ISO surface rendering features of the NVIDIA RSX graphics processor. Molecules can also be navigated in real time using the PS3’s motion sensitive controller allowing users to view the proteins from different angles.

With the PS3’s high price pushing away developers, PS3 owners will have something to put all those unused processor cycles to use.

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The last paragraph of the article..
By ViperROhb34 on 8/24/2006 2:45:04 AM , Rating: 2
.. really sarcastically and truthfully says it all.. the target market Sony "Hopes" will buy PS3 don't care much about this .. there may be many legitimate users of this function.. maybe a few thousand scientist.. but college students and engineers I'm sure will stick to their pc won't exactly be calling this a must have ..

RE: The last paragraph of the article..
By ronster on 8/24/2006 2:53:36 AM , Rating: 2
..and given the fact that new consoles seem to have cooling a bit 'on the edge' then would you be happy leaving one on 24/7 anyway?

By MonkeyPaw on 8/24/2006 7:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
Don't you need a PC to stream anything? I mean, how else are you going to get the content onto the PS3? You can hook an iPod or a digital camera up to a 360, or you can pop in a CD and rip the music to the HD. How will PS3 be vastly different? The connectivity to the PC is a bonus, as you don't have to have a PC to enjoy the 360. Having a PC simply gives you more functions. It's not like most people don't already have a PC running Windows XP anyway.

By feelingshorter on 8/24/2006 11:29:09 AM , Rating: 2
I would never leave my computer on 24/7. Whos going to pay for the electric bill and for a broken hard drive?

RE: The last paragraph of the article..
By whymeintrouble on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
By DigitalFreak on 8/24/2006 8:36:25 AM , Rating: 1
I agree with point one, but on point 2, STFU.

By Fenixgoon on 8/24/2006 9:42:02 AM , Rating: 2
do you use folding@home on your computer, whmeintrouble?

also, is the 100gigaflops theoretical or actual processing speeds? i mean, we all know the PS3 is supposed to equal something like 140opterons in terms of CPU power (1 teraflop each ;)

XBox 360?
By bunnyfubbles on 8/24/2006 4:25:48 AM , Rating: 1

What are GPU's and how can they help FAH? GPU's are Graphics Processing Units -- chips used in today's PC's to help speed high performance graphics, such as 3D games or 3D scientific visualization. GPUs have the possibility to perform an enormous number of Floating Point OPerations (FLOPs). However, they achieve this high performance by losing generality -- there are only certain types of calculations which would be well-suited to GPUs. However, after much work, we have been able to write a highly optimized molecular dynamics code for GPU's, achieving a 20x to 40x speed increase over comparable CPU code for certain types of calculations in FAH. This means that we will be able to make an enormous advance over what we could do only just a few years ago.

Given that info, what about the XBox 360 and it's potential folding power thanks to its GPU? Has M$ pretty much blocked any chance of using a 360 as a number cruncher?

RE: XBox 360?
By Vertigo101 on 8/24/2006 11:42:58 AM , Rating: 2
There's that new XNA program that will let you run your own code on a 360 for ~$100/year. Maybe someone will put Folding@Home to work that way.

RE: XBox 360?
By ZeeStorm on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: XBox 360?
By Vertigo101 on 8/24/2006 1:18:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's more like a custom G5, and you do realise that the Cell is just 1 of the 360's cores with those dang SPE's around it, right?

Also, my 360 is on almost constantly, and has never had a problem.

RE: XBox 360?
By ZeeStorm on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: XBox 360?
By exdeath on 8/25/2006 11:27:47 AM , Rating: 2
Well for one the "Cell" is having problems... Going from 3.2 Ghz to 2.7 Ghz (?) and eliminating SPUs to improve yields, the peak power will by short of the claims; typical for Sony hype. Wasn't PS2 1000 times more powerful than a PC? *snicker* I'm sure it was on paper at the time it was announced, but it was dwarfed before it even came out. I could say I'm gonna have a console that is 10,000 TFlops and pwns super computers, but one small detail I'll leave out or lead you away from is that it won't be out till the year 2090 when that type of hardware will be mainstream or obselete. But it sounds good TODAY and you are too high on the hype to realize this.

Second, you are limited to what you can do on the SPEs, they have very limited instruction sets and memory access restrictions as far as I know. The overhead of breaking up tasks to that level, thread management, data synch, etc. will be high, esp. for games due to the linear dependencies and requirement frame consistency. Especially with two types of CPUS (main CPU and SPES) the main CPU will have to treat SPE threads as data blocks that are copied to SPE memory before execution, conversion of data, etc... I'd much rather have 3 REAL CPUS than 7.

Third there is a big flaw that still exists as far as I know that has to do with the main CPU reading from each SPE's 256kb memory that results in like 4 mb/sec... and I'm not sure if the SPEs can write results to main ram or push GPU packets directly, so how useful are the SPEs if you can't read the results back quickly?

And you don't need Core 2 to smoke a G5, the K8 did that well enough, even besting dual G5 in some cases. With the Xbox360 and PS3 even more so because in order to make room for those cores they removed alot of the advances in CPU technology since the 486 so while you have 3 cores at high clock speeds, they are very simplified fetch-decode-execute pipelines with no speculation, prediction, or modern scheduling hardware which makes modern PC’s as fast as they are.


I’ve been researching multithreading for gaming; The problem with threading is frame consistency. Dependant objects will read another object’s state at the same time that object’s state is being changed by another thread. At the very least synchronization is required so we don’t read values from two different states before the state change has finished, for example getting an objects freshly updated x, but the old y. The other problem is that even if the individual states are locked all or nothing, the total state of an object can change between accesses amongst other objects due to unpredictable thread parallelism. That is two cats would both see a bird sitting and flying. As any game programmer knows, this isn’t good, as a single frame should represent a fixed snapshot in time. So we have so many locks and waits on critical sections to synchronize things that we loose any benefit of thread parallelism.

The problem is similar to screen tearing: the state of the frame buffer changes in the context of a single frame, top half is the old frame and the bottom half is the new frame. We can solve the problem by applying the same concept we do with frame buffers to avoid tearing: double buffering data that must remain unchanging in the context of a single frame!

AI and physics can all be done in parallel micro threads by using data double-buffering of frame state data and pipelining updates to maintain static frame state between modules in the context of a single frame. In other words, work on frame n+1 in each entities ‘back buffer’ while entity front buffers are read-only from frame n+0 and feed back into the physics/ai whenever ‘current’ state is needed. So now while an object may be updating its back buffer, anything reading ‘current’ state for the frame gets the unchanging front buffer which remains constant throughout the frame. In this way two cats will see a bird in the walking state in that frame and both decide to attack. The bird will see both cats attacking in the next frame and fly away, and both cats will see the flying away at the same time.

This way you can have 100s of micro threads running each AI or physics computation completely independent and updating data in the hidden back buffers while the ‘front buffers’ remain constant throughout the frame. No synching or locking or waiting except between frames when you swap. Just start 100 threads in parallel and call WaitForMultipleObjects() before SwapBuffers().

RE: XBox 360?
By exdeath on 8/25/2006 11:29:41 AM , Rating: 2
"I'd much rather have 3 REAL CPUS than 7."

edit to:

"I'd much rather have 3 REAL CPUS than 7 limited ones"

RE: XBox 360?
By xbdestroya on 8/24/2006 1:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sony seemingly developed the software themselves.

A more comprehensive article on the matter:

RE: XBox 360?
By ZeeStorm on 8/24/06, Rating: -1
sony = lol
By marscay on 8/24/2006 7:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
i just can't wait to purchase my overpriced ps3 and have it die within a week from crunching 24/7.

oh well if the rumours are true it's not like there's going to be a ton of games released for awhile.

still.....i can't wait until i see winning eleven on it.

RE: sony = lol
By cplusplus on 8/24/2006 10:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
still.....i can't wait until i see winning eleven on it.

Didn't you hear, the next FIFA and winning eleven are both going to be 360 exclusives.

RE: sony = lol
By marscay on 8/25/2006 7:44:21 AM , Rating: 2
hah i don't think so

i dont care what platform fifa is on i won't be playing it ....but winning eleven WILL NOT be a 360 exclusive.

RE: sony = lol
By marscay on 8/25/2006 7:47:45 AM , Rating: 2
M$ are claiming PES6 for the 360 which is not Winning Eleven....the jap version is always superior.

btw PES6 is only the WE10 port which has been out for's not the true next gen version of the series.

That next gen version WILL be on PS3 before the 360.

It's just more M$ spin at work

What is this bickering?
By xbdestroya on 8/24/2006 9:32:52 AM , Rating: 4
I can't understand the cynicism in this thread: can this be considered anything other than great news?

For those that think console owners won't utilize the PS3 for folding, I think you're wrong. To go further, the viral appeal of it may in itself turn into a hobbyist obsession in much the same way that it has in the PC world - *and*, I could see certain PC folders pick up the PS3 just for protein folding exclusively, with the added benefits of topological navigation.

But whatever the case, or whatever the level of appeal, the fact remains that this is a positive for humanity and a positive use for Cell.

RE: What is this bickering?
By GoatMonkey on 8/24/2006 10:38:35 AM , Rating: 1
This news just greatly increased my interest in the PS3. I play a few games, but not nearly as much as I used to. Being able to use the box for something that is useful when I'm not actually on it is big points in my mind.

People taking this out of contex
By Serifan on 8/24/2006 3:06:26 AM , Rating: 2
"The PlayStation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC"

People are taking this out of contex, he was having a stab at microsoft because you need your pc to transfer files and stream music and photos. he is saying they don't need a pc to do the functions the 360 does.

By epsilonparadox on 8/24/2006 9:41:17 AM , Rating: 2
And you don't know the capabilities of a 360 since it can also stream music, photos, etc. from a portable device. You don't need a pc for a x360 either but it does enhance your experience. When the PS3 gets its first virus because of its open internet web surfing, then it can be called a computer.

PC's folding.
By Bladen on 8/24/2006 3:45:54 AM , Rating: 2
How much flops does an average PC put out?

4 or 5 gigaflops?

RE: PC's folding.
By giantpandaman2 on 8/24/2006 5:00:43 AM , Rating: 2
According to this slideshow
a 3 ghz Pentium 4 can put out 12 gflops peak. An X1800XT can put out 120 gigaflops peak. Though, from the High Performance FAQ it looks like the X1900 variants put out a dramatic amount more.

Wish someone would put up more up to date data on that though.

By maverick502 on 8/24/2006 9:10:48 AM , Rating: 3
I'm still very worried about viruses on such an open platform(if it really is as open as Sony says)

By BZDTemp on 8/24/2006 9:17:40 AM , Rating: 3
This BS has been reported more than once on this page and the truth is Sony never said the PS3 would replace the PC.

What they basicly said was that the PS3 does not need the XBOX Live Anywhere PC part and a lot news sites has been using part of a quote out of context in order to create controversy. It just shows how little you can trust what is being posted here on DailyTech!

made for it
By bobsmith1492 on 8/24/2006 10:05:27 AM , Rating: 2
Due to the multiple core structure of the cell, isn't it actually more suited for applications like this, rather than gaming?

RE: made for it
By Alexvrb on 8/24/2006 12:27:49 PM , Rating: 1
Probably. Not much different than the PS2 in this regard. Still, it's a powerful beast, even if the Xbox 360 may have more balanced hardware.

For the price...
By samuraiBX on 8/24/2006 8:43:47 AM , Rating: 2
Sony should send someone to fold things AT your home, like my clean laundry... though seriously, it's worthwhile for those who participate. The thing is, how many PS3 owners will really know about that feature? It would be good Sony tells the general PS3 owner how to get set up and how much good folding@home is doing.

Nice PR
By lemonadesoda on 8/24/2006 6:26:40 PM , Rating: 2
Their agency should get a rise.

PS3 is being put to MEDICAL use! Wow. That will earn a lot of brownie points. I foresee the following:

1./ Everyone in the family getting a "feel good" factor from a PS3 purchase. Maybe even Grandma will now buy one for the kids
2./ Hospitals finding that buying a PS3 for kid-ertainment is a little more agreeable now
3./ Kids having their PS3 running in their bedroom 24/7 telling the parents "but its running folding@home; I cant turn it off!" when truth be told, as soon as the door closes, ...another game
4./ Oh yes, internet connection needed. Perhaps a skinned folding@home with ads? Nice revenue stream there.

Good job SONY marketing.

looking forward to OCing
By mushi799 on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: looking forward to OCing
By tuteja1986 on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
By Randum on 8/24/06, Rating: 0
"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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