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PlayStation 3 cure-finding machine to get update

Sony Computer Entertainment was proud to let it be known that great progress has been made in the one month since PlayStation 3 became part of Stanford University's Folding@home program, a distributed computing project aimed at understanding protein folding, misfolding and related diseases.

"The PS3 turnout has been amazing, greatly exceeding our expectations and allowing us to push our work dramatically forward," said Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home program lead. "Thanks to PS3, we have performed simulations in the first few weeks that would normally take us more than a year to calculate. We are now gearing up for new simulations that will continue our current studies of Alzheimer's and other diseases."

The PS3’s inherent skill at protein folding is largely due to its Cell Broadband Engine, which is amongst the fastest in the network and is bested only by the fastest GPUs. According to Sony, more than 250,000 unique PS3 users have registered to the program in just one month. PS3 users are delivering nearly 400 teraflops, representing more than half the computing capacity of the network's 700 teraflops at a single moment.

"We continue to be thrilled with the ongoing contributions of the PS3 user community in helping the Folding@home program study the causes of many different diseases that afflict our society," said Masayuki Chatani, Corporate Executive and CTO Computer, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. "As we move forward, we are issuing a call to action for all PS3 owners around the world to download the Folding@home application and help this cause. These PS3 fans can also be part of history as the Folding@home distributed computing program inches closer to achieving a petaflop - a measure of computing power that has never before been reached."

In related PS3 Folding@home news, tomorrow will see the release of an application update that will further enhance program by improving in folding calculation speeds, increasing visibility of user location on the globe and giving the ability for users to create longer donor or team names. PS3 users can download the new update version 1.1 by restarting the Folding@home application.

Earlier this month, IBM and Mayo Clinic announced that they have successfully adapted and tested the Cell Broadband Engine for use in medical imaging.

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By therealnickdanger on 4/25/2007 3:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
That's cool stuff, to be sure. Next, Sony should release standalone CBE devices that cost $100 or something.

RE: *applause*
By danielfranklin on 4/25/07, Rating: -1
RE: *applause*
By lennylim on 4/25/2007 5:47:59 PM , Rating: 1
Like Sony actually care about diseases etc.

I don't see why not. The upper management must be pretty old, after all.

The cynical view of this is that Sony is only in it for the positive PR. But so what? It's a win-win situation. Sony is not forcing anyone to go buy a PS3 just to fold proteins.

I wonder how many of those active folders are being run by Sony themselves though. It should be trivial for their engineers to design a bare bones version of the PS3 without all the fluff just to run F@H.

RE: *applause*
By Dactyl on 4/25/2007 11:00:28 PM , Rating: 4
Like Sony actually care about diseases etc.
Welcome to our capitalist economy.

If everyone had to care before a disease got cured, we would still have smallpox and polio hanging around.

Here's a little Adam Smith for ya:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest
What does it mean? It means Sony doesn't have to care about making the world a better place in order for Sony to actually make the world a better place.

Be a good citizen, work hard at your job, don't rape people or go on shooting rampages, and the world will be a better place. Approximately 5-6 billion people have figured this out (it's pretty intuitive, really: be productive and don't be a dick).

The only people who don't get it are Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-Il, and whiny latte-sipping capitalism-hating high school students in America who have better lives than not just 97% of everyone alive, but 99.9% of everyone who has ever lived. Why do you have time to post on DailyTech? Shouldn't you be working in a coal mine or something? The party demands it!

RE: *applause*
By bubbacub616 on 4/26/2007 1:31:45 AM , Rating: 2
did he say something explicitly commie to make you go on a 'god bless america, etc.' rant?

RE: *applause*
By BZDTemp on 4/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: *applause*
By Ringold on 4/27/2007 1:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
Congratulations for showing you have no idea what he was refering to in the least.

RE: *applause*
By TheGreek on 5/1/2007 10:10:27 AM , Rating: 2
Hugo Chavez sent a tanker full of gasoline to Katrina victims. Bush sent Brownie.

So who really has a clue here?

RE: *applause*
By Milliamp on 4/25/2007 6:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
I think IBM is planning on this.

RE: *applause*
By PlasmaBomb on 4/25/2007 8:47:57 PM , Rating: 2
They already have Cell workstations on the market...

I know this is wrong but...
By RandomFool on 4/25/2007 3:58:25 PM , Rating: 5
It's good to know the PS3 is good for something other that watching movies.

Seriously, kudos to Sony for supporting a good cause.

RE: I know this is wrong but...
By danielfranklin on 4/25/07, Rating: -1
RE: I know this is wrong but...
By MPE on 4/25/2007 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. PS3 is a gaming console. Its intent is obvious. What ever it does above that is just gravy, especially if it helps PS3 sales and reputation.

RE: I know this is wrong but...
By keitaro on 4/25/2007 5:18:10 PM , Rating: 1
That's probably the only thing I'll give 'em props for. I personally do not like Sony or the PS3 as a system. But it's good that the PS3 can participate in F@H.

RE: I know this is wrong but...
By redbone75 on 4/26/2007 2:08:08 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't say that's the only thing I would give them props for. I give them props for simply having gotten to where they are, and I'm a Nintendo fan. Sony pretty much bought their way into the console world when Nintendo ruled and capitalized on Nintendo's mistakes (sticking with cartridges instead of cd's, not having a killer marketing engine, having a pricey business model for developers) and made video game history with the PSX. The PS2 did okay as well (a little sarcasm there) and the PS3, well, I believe it's a bit early in the life of this system to pass judgment on it. I personally would like to see many more PS3's sold just for the F@H contribution the PS3 owners can make. To be able to reduce a year-plus long simulation to a matter of weeks is wonderful for the medical community. Just imagine if all the "next gen" consoles could contribute to F@H how wonderful it would be for the medical community. Props to Sony, yes, but props, moreso, to the PS3 owners who decide to contribute to F@H. Way to go guys.

RE: I know this is wrong but...
By anonymo on 4/26/2007 9:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
I was gonna wonder so many PS3s are contributing to the F@H project...what else would you do with it?

Cell's real strengths
By Aikouka on 4/25/2007 4:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
People may argue that Cell (Xenon as well) isn't as great for gaming as some may have you think, but it is great for number crunching as the SPEs do very well when they don't have execute branches. So I'm not surprised by this, but it's good to see!

RE: Cell's real strengths
By FITCamaro on 4/25/07, Rating: 0
RE: Cell's real strengths
By OxBow on 4/25/2007 5:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, I've experienced no problems, whatsover, in gaming on my PS3, so to say that the Cell isn't good for gaming is a little specious. It does this just fine, and once more games come out for it, I think most people will agree that the PS3 is a fine gaming machine. Expensive yes, but good at many different things INCLUDING gaming.

Stanford has a fairly comprehensive FAQ on how they compute the performance and TFlops. They are very clear that you can't just divide the TFlops by how many PS3's are "active" since both factors have different, not simply divisible, definitions. This is mainly due to the fact that some PS3's will work non-stop all the time, while others only work occasionally, and updates and reporting is very random. Any way you look at this, it's good news for Stanford and the advancement of science.

As for the 360, I feel that it's high time Microsoft stepped forward and joined in. The type of fan loyalty that each console generates could create a pretty useful competition with folding@home the real winner.

RE: Cell's real strengths
By PlasmaBomb on 4/25/2007 8:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Stanford tend to be fairly unoptimistic when calculating TFlops of performance and do so on the basis of the returned workunits.

RE: Cell's real strengths
By FITCamaro on 4/25/2007 10:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
Where exactly did I say the PS3 or Cell was bad for gaming. Is Cell the best processor for games which involve tons of branching code? No. The PPC core driving Cell has horrible branch prediction the same as Xenon. An AMD X2 would be far better as the core of a gaming console.

But they're fast enough to get the job done and supply the graphics card with information to draw the scenes and make decisions for AI, physics, etc.

RE: Cell's real strengths
By JimFear on 4/26/2007 9:01:01 AM , Rating: 2
Don't quote me on this but I believe Cell can be used to do some nifty rendering stuff before the data is sent to RSX alleviating it of some number crunching, something to do with geometry and lighting I believe, Resistance was an example of this kind of programming as you can see the draw distance and the level of detail (all with high AA and AF) without any major slowdown. I was very impressed with the level of detail the PS3 provided and as of yet haven't seen anything similar on 360 (yes I own one and enjoy it before anyone starts complaining).

By borowki on 4/25/2007 5:23:37 PM , Rating: 5
I guess if you buy a Xbox 360 instead of a PS3, then you're on the side of cancer. Shame.

By mm2587 on 4/25/2007 6:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
that sir, made my day.

By thepinkpanther on 4/25/2007 8:47:42 PM , Rating: 1
I can really on laugh on the poor souls that thinks its bad to contribute to cancer aid in those programs.

Grow up for christ sake. Its more programs like this we need.

Xbox 360 could also do programs like this. it all matters altough I doubt the xbox 360 is just as fast. could learn something and start programs like this.

RE: Hi
By Nekrik on 4/25/2007 11:12:20 PM , Rating: 3
Holly crap, have you just pulled your head out of a hole?

"microsoft could learn something and start programs like this"

To recommend that Microsoft take a page out of Sony's book on philanthropy is just plain silly.

You started out well but the ending was too much.

RE: Hi
By vitul on 4/26/2007 2:47:10 AM , Rating: 2
the problem with this is the 360 gets so hot that you would end up with the red ring of death while trying to do something good.

Xbox 360 Performance?
By kristof007 on 4/25/2007 10:23:48 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know how the Xbox CPU and GPU would fair against the PS3's power in folding at home but I think there is a lot more 360s already in the homes than PS3's (i don't know exact numbers but I am pretty sure there are more 360s than PS3s ... other than that I am not saying anything). So even if the 360 was less powerful it could still be a great contributor to F@H. As a previous person said, it would be a win-win situation to F@H and ultimately, humanity.

RE: Xbox 360 Performance?
By FITCamaro on 4/25/2007 10:39:23 PM , Rating: 2
The 360's GPU would kick Cell's ass in folding just as the X1900 series does on PCs. Plus you'd have 3 3.2GHz cores that you could make use of if you so choose.

RE: Xbox 360 Performance?
By PrinceGaz on 4/26/2007 4:22:10 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the chances are that if MS were to authorise a Folding client for the XB360 using its Xenos GPU, it would be faster than what the PS3 can achieve using its Cell processor. There probably wouldn't be much point utilising the three cores of the XB360 Xenon CPU other than for keeping the Xenos fed with data.

By AntDX316 on 4/26/2007 6:37:57 AM , Rating: 1
PS3 is a godsend

By weskurtz0081 on 4/26/2007 11:12:29 AM , Rating: 3
It's IBM's processor, not Sony's. If Dell were to make a bunch of computers that excelled @folding, we wouldn't be talking about how great these Dell's were at folding, we would be talking about how great the Intel/AMD cpu, or in this case, the IBM cpu inside of it is at doing the work. Sony deserves some credit, but IBM deserves the vast majority of the credit.


By nowei on 4/27/2007 11:59:15 AM , Rating: 2
The Cell processor was jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM. It's not just IBM's processor.

Electric bill
By PrinceGaz on 4/26/2007 4:45:21 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder how many people who have decided to leave their PS3 running 24/7 with F@H are aware of the fact that it uses an average of about 210 watts of power while doing so? Probably not very many, unless they have a plug-in power monitor.

210 watts over a period of 24 hours is equivalent to 5 KWh. I don't know how much electricity is in the US but I'll guess at it being roughly US$0.10 per KWh (we pay about UK£0.09). That means you'd be paying half a dollar every day to keep a PS3 Folding. Over the course of a year you are looking at a not insignificant US$180 (or UK£160), something to bear in mind before leaving the PS3 Folding when you aren't watching BluRay movies on it.

By the way, the PS3 uses about 170-180 watts while playing either DVD or BluRay movies, compared with the roughly 30-40 watts of proper standalone BluRay and HD-DVD players; something to bear in mind if considering buying a PS3 as a BluRay player.

RE: Electric bill
By redbone75 on 4/26/2007 10:10:14 AM , Rating: 2
I personally wouldn't care about $180 USD over the course of a year if I just shelled out $600+ on a gaming system;) especially if I'm contributing to something significantly more meaningful than my playing games. When you step back and look at it, unless you're making money off of playing games they are a wonderful way to waste time.

Xbox 360 may support Rosetta@home Project in future.
By Aegeon on 4/26/2007 12:26:35 AM , Rating: 2
From a post today by David Baker, the man in charge of the Rosetta@home Project, on the subject of Xbox 360 support for the Rosetta@home client software in the future.

I just met yesterday with Tony Hey, the corporate vice president for technical computing at Microsoft, to discuss this possibility further. Tony and Microsoft have been incredibly supportive of our efforts so far, and he is going to help us try to make this become a reality in the not too distant future.

By Hawkido on 4/27/2007 12:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
Wow that's great... I got downrated into oblivion when I first stated the Microsoft better jump on this when the first article about PS3 was being used for F@H.

Anywho, I thought the XB360 was supposed to be easy to develop for? Why'd the PS3 come out with it first and why is it taking so long for MS to get an already existing multiplatform program the works on the MS OS to port to it's XB360?

If I had to guess, it is because they don't want negative PR. The XB360 with 3 general purpose CPU's cannot match the PS3 with 1 CPU and 7 SPE's. They see some shame in it... I don't believe the ATI GPU in the XB 360 can be used for number crunching like it can in the PC, or they can't get it to yet and that's the delay. Limitations of the architecture, or the Micro OS they have on the XB 360.

If I can only donate $1 and Bill Gates can donate $10 Million, should I not donate? Are there not 10 million people with $1 to donate for every Bill Gates?

*Dons Parachute for the rapid ratings decent*

PS3 owners deserve props on this
By nerdye on 4/29/2007 1:26:07 AM , Rating: 2
Sony deserves credit for the their ps3's number crunching ability, do not criticize them for this or the fact that they don't care what its used for. The cell processor is fantastic and can do great things that IBM will take advantage of with severs and such. Cell is the highlight of the ps3, and I'm glad that so many people that own a ps3 and don't have a game worth playing are contributing to a good cause at the sacrifice of 200 watts on their electricity bill. Its a noble service of ps3 owners. But people, seriously, expect a much smaller contribution percentage when gta4 finally comes out =)

RE: PS3 owners deserve props on this
By Oobu on 4/29/2007 1:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, let Sony get some good games going and we'll see those Folding@Home scores start to level off.

By allnighter on 4/25/2007 5:18:24 PM , Rating: 3
I guess some people simply can't take any kind of positive press involving Sony, and god forbid, PS3. That's just sad.

By Master Kenobi on 4/25/2007 4:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, its is undeniable that for scientific number crunching (Especially Floating Point Calculations) the Cell is an excellent processor. Really remains to be seen how well it does with pure gaming, but as a number cruncher it is undeniably good.

By WayneG on 4/25/2007 5:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
About time they used that processor for what it was made to do! Pure server performance!

Can Sony count?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/25/07, Rating: -1
RE: Can Sony count?
By ScythedBlade on 4/25/2007 3:57:09 PM , Rating: 3
It might have been a typo ...

or it could be a deliberate typo XD

RE: Can Sony count?
By Armorize on 4/25/2007 4:15:14 PM , Rating: 5
Ever heard of something called rounding up? It's a crazy concept I know but hey.
nearly 400 teraflops, representing more than half the computing capacity of the network's 700 teraflops at a single moment.

RE: Can Sony count?
By bighairycamel on 4/25/07, Rating: 0
RE: Can Sony count?
By Goty on 4/25/2007 4:44:06 PM , Rating: 5
That means that 250,000 PS3s with unique user IDs have completed at least 1 work unit.

RE: Can Sony count?
By BladeVenom on 4/25/2007 8:14:48 PM , Rating: 1
And some Sony fans complain that they only run negative stories. Most consumer probably don't even care, but they still run the stories about the PS3 being the best F@H console on the market. There's literally no competition.

RE: Can Sony count?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/25/2007 8:46:17 PM , Rating: 4
Whilst I am happy that the cell processors are helping the Pande Group at Stanford, I am unhappy about the factual inaccuracies of the report. According to EOC's excellent FAH stats the first recorded work units are from way back on the 8th Feb 2007 (which is a bit over a month!). There are not 250,000 users running FAH on a PS3, the word nearly wasn't there originally (IIRC). The stats have been falling off and I don't think Sony's motives are as pure as they imply.
PB (folding as the same)

RE: Can Sony count?
By Carl B on 4/26/2007 9:17:41 AM , Rating: 4

Who even cares what the motives are; at the worst end of the spectrum the motive would be positive PR, and what's so insidious about that?

Whatever your consternation about the reporting on the subject, right now PS3 is the largest contributor, and supplies half the aggregate power - two facts I'm sure you'll acknowledge.

Why can't Sony simply be given a 'kudos' on something now and then without the string of qualifiers and conspiracy theories?

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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