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Folding@home to help find cures for cancer, the PS3 way

The Cell Broadband Engine in its natural habitat -- a PS3
Sony hopes to cure diseases with PlayStation 3

While Nintendo DS and Wii gamers can take the role of a surgeon to save fictional lives in the Trauma Center-series, owners of a PlayStation 3 will soon be able to use their new game system to help find real-life cures to diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis and many cancers.

The PlayStation 3 will soon have the capability to connect to Stanford University's Folding@home program, a distributed computing project aimed at understanding protein folding, misfolding and related diseases.

After the hype surrounding the power of the Cell Broadband Engine, Folding@home could be the first application to harness some of the console’s yet untapped capabilities. According to Sony, the Cell processor inside each PS3 is roughly 10 times faster than a standard mainstream PC chip at protein folding calculations. Researchers are able to perform the simulations much faster, speeding up the research process.

“Millions of users have experienced the power of PS3 entertainment. Now they can utilize that exceptional computing power to help fight diseases,” said Masayuki Chatani, corporate executive and CTO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “In order to study protein folding, researchers need more than just one super computer, but the massive processing power of thousands of networked computers. Previously, PCs have been the only option for scientists, but now, they have a new, more powerful tool -- PS3.”

The process of folding proteins is incredibly complex, with simulations taking up to 30 years for a single computer to complete. Folding@home enables this task to be shared among thousands of computers connected via the network, utilizing distributed computing technology. Once the data is processed, the information is sent back via the Internet to the central computer.

“We are thrilled to have SCE be part of the Folding@home project,” said Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home project lead. “With PS3 now part of our network, we will be able 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.”

According to details from the Folding@home Web site, PS3 is able “to achieve performance previously only possible on supercomputers,” with each computer likely “able to attain performance on the 100 gigaflop scale.” With about 10,000 such machines, or about 1 percent of all PlayStation 3 consoles in the U.S., performance on the petaflop scale would be added to Folding@home.

The PS3 version of the Folding@home software will also feature an upgraded, flashier interface. The Cell processor will be consumed with simulations, but the NVIDIA RSX GPU will be free to provide a visual representation of the actual folding process in real-time with graphical effects such as HDR and ISO surface rendering. Users will also be granted a small bit of interactivity by using the SIXAXIS controller to navigate the 3D space of the molecule to look at the protein from different angles in real-time. For a video of a prototype of the GUI for the PS3 client, check out Folding@home’s PS3 FAQ.

A Folding@home icon will be added to the Network menu of the XMB (XrossMediaBar) via a software update expected at the end of March. PS3 users can join the program by simply clicking on the Folding@home icon or can optionally set the application to run automatically whenever the PS3 is idle.



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Give it a rest already
By Saito on 3/16/2007 6:39:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
all i know is that my sister has cystic fibrosis. if downloading this software to my ps3 will help these researchers find a cure or let her live longer i will do it in a heart beat. all you retards do is complain about sony and the ps3 shut up all ready you don't have to make everything so negative. if you don't like the ps3 don't by it buy a 360. i own both and i am happy with both if they came out with one i could use for my pc i would use it. i know they have one but i use nvidia. if they come out with one for the 360 i would use it if they come out with one for the new ati videocard or nvidia card i will buy a new card and use it. i don't care if their claim of it being ten times faster is true if it f+++ing helps you morons. stop with the bashing on every single sony thread.

Thank you, finally somebody who can do something else besides bashing Sony. Don't you people have anything else on your mind? I don't see you rambling on Intel for "losing" al their emails they were ordered to keep in their lawsuit against AMD for example.
it's always the same thing: sony sucks, sony is lame. Can't you people just give it a rest?
If they want to work with Stanford University, to make it possible for the PS3 to help with the folding, good for them. Some people run F@H on crappy P2's, and you people are whining because the Cell might nog be as strong as a GPU/CPU ? Every little bit helps, if they want to do some good, and try to help, let them; it's a lot more constructive than this ongoing Sony bashing. Seriously, I love this site, and most of the times the comments are very informative as well. But whenever "Sony" comes up, this place is reduced to a playground. Very tiresome indeed...




"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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