The PlayStation 3 has recently flexed its floating point
muscles by leading all
processors at Folding@home. Sony’s game machine has been performing more work than any
other system on helping to understanding protein folding, misfolding and
related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
A topic up for debate between the console circles is how the
PlayStation 3’s arch-nemesis, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, would perform on
Folding@home. While there is no Folding@home client for the Xbox 360, Vijay
Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home
program lead, told Pro-G that the
CPU inside Microsoft console would definitely lag behind the PS3’s Cell
“We are simulating key processes in protein folding and
misfolding in Alzheimer's Disease. PS3's are performing aspects of these
simulations, and doing so about 20 times faster than a typical PC,” Pande said.
When asked if the Xbox 360 could be of use to the Folding@home program, he
answered, “Possibly, although the cell processor in the PS3 is much more
powerful for our calculations than the CPU in the Xbox 360.”
Mind you, the comparison may only be strictly between the
two CPU architectures of each console. The Xbox 360 uses a custom triple-core
PowerPC-based CPU, while the PlayStation 3 uses the Cell Broadband Engine
composed of seven processor elements.
While the Xbox 360 CPU may not be tops in terms of
Folding@home, its ATI-developed GPU could be much better. ATI Radeon GPUs
running Folding@home are outperforming the PlayStation 3 on a per capita basis.
Though whether or not the Xbox 360 will ever get its crack at helping to cure a
disease remains to be seen.