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PlayStation 3 gives strength to Stanford's Folding@home

Since last March, the PlayStation 3 has been one of the leading contributing technologies to the Folding@home effort.

Now, less than a year since release, more than one million users have taken part in Stanford University's Folding@home project. According to Sony, this equates to roughly 3,000 PS3 users registering for Folding@home per day or 2 new registered users every minute worldwide.

"Since partnering with SCEI, we have seen our research capabilities increase by leaps and bounds through the continued participation of Folding@home users," said Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home project lead.  "Now we have over one million PS3 users registered for Folding@home, allowing us to address questions previously considered impossible to tackle computationally, with the goal of finding cures to some of the world's most life-threatening diseases.  We are grateful for the extraordinary worldwide participation by PS3 and PC users around the globe."

According to the Folding@home team, a network of roughly 10,000 PS3s can accomplish the same amount of work as a network of 100,000 PCs. It took just six months after PS3 joining Folding@home for the project to surpass a petaflops, a computing milestone that had never been reached before by a distributed computing network. On September 16, 2007, Folding@home was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's most powerful distributed computing network.

Currently PS3 users make up approximately 74 percent of the total teraflop computing power of the Folding@home project.

The Folding@home program runs simulations in protein folding and misfolding, helping scientists understand – and hopefully curing – diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's and certain forms of cancer. That’s not all the PS3’s CPU is able to do for the medical community, though, as the Cell Broadband Engine is also helping doctors at Mayo Clinic with medical imaging.

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RE: How Efficient is Distributed Computing?...
By Foxery on 2/4/2008 10:03:52 PM , Rating: 3
The key is that no single person or company is footing the entire bill. Nobody has to go get a grant for that $1.5 million... we all just chip in our five bucks and get 'er done.

By Frank M on 2/4/2008 11:28:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, while someone else makes a buck.

RE: How Efficient is Distributed Computing?...
By flgt on 2/5/2008 7:51:13 AM , Rating: 2
That's my point. Maybe we should just send in $5 a month to the project and have them do the computing in a central location if it's more efficient. I know I sound like an environmentalist wacko but we're talking megawatts of power for the PS3's alone. The IT/computer industry is so frickin wasteful. They've made some strides recently but I think there is a long way to go. I work for a large corporation and their policy for client maintenance is log off and leave on. It's definitely an area that there's room for improvement.

By AlphaVirus on 2/5/2008 12:06:06 PM , Rating: 2
You try telling a 10 year old with a PS3 to send a check written to some random place in California for $5. Then make sure you remind them to put the PO Box #.

I think its better that you have 1mil PS3's doing 1 job each rather 1 super computer doing 1mil jobs.
If 1 person turns his PS3 off, you still have 999,999. If you turn of the 1 super computer you have 0.
If people can not foot the electric bill, they will just turn off the PS3. If a project can not foot the bill on a super computer, they have to shut the project down.

I hear what you are trying to say but it is just more efficient having the PS3's do all the work.
Also remember, the PS3 can do a simple firmware update and move on. Have you ever seen a super computer? They are usualy large rooms full of computational mess. To try and update/upgrade would take time and effort.

Look at it like this, the PS3's are doing the number crunching, and that just leaves the University to do their research.

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