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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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What I cannot understand
By qdemn7 on 2/5/2008 12:03:24 AM , Rating: 2
Is why Nvidia has made no effort to develop a client for Folding@Home? AMD/ATI has done so, and given that the most powerful GPUs are Nvidias. Guess it's beneath Nvidia to do so.

Sad...




RE: What I cannot understand
By Spoelie on 2/5/2008 4:47:17 AM , Rating: 2
1) ATi did not create the folding client, stanford itself did
2) Starting from the X1xx0 series, ATi's GPU's have been computationally faster in GP-GPU's applications than NV. Where ATi is lacking is 'painting pixels', but pure crunching numbers, the X1xx0 series had a huge leg up over the G7x. Look at current game (shader-heavy) benchmarks to see the difference in speed between those 2 architectures: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3151... . Also in this generation, ATi has a case for number crunching superiority, but we have to wait for actual applications to see if it pans out.

Consider the stanford comments on the release of the client (2006, before G80):
"The R580 (in the X1900XT, etc.) performs particularly well for molecular dynamics, due to its 48 pixel shaders. Currently, other cards (such as those from nVidia and other ATI cards) do not perform well enough for our calculations as they have fewer pixel shaders. Also, nVidia cards in general have some technical limitations beyond the number of pixel shaders which makes them perform poorly in our calculations."


RE: What I cannot understand
By qdemn7 on 2/5/2008 5:53:08 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that information.


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