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The Cell Broadband Engine tears it up when Folding@home
Sony's console dominating all other clients at Folding@home

Along with the release of PlayStation 3 in Europe, gamers in Japan and North America updated their Sony monoliths to system software version 1.60. Along with the much needed background downloading, the update brings to the PS3 the ability to help find a cure for cancer with its Folding@home client.

Although Sony hasn’t thus far been able to prove the power of the PlayStation 3 through first generation games, Folding@home may be offering the first glimpse at the new console’s much touted muscle.

According to the most recent Folding@home client statistics sorted by operating system, the PlayStation 3 leads all other platforms by a huge margin. The PS3 has 367 current TFLOPS, while the next closest is Windows with 151 TFLOPS and more than ten times more CPUs.

When it comes to pure performance though, the PS3’s Cell Broadband Processor is still no match for ATI GPUs for protein folding. The GPUs on Folding@home sit at 41 current TFLOPS, which come from only 700 processors. If there were as many GPUs folding as there are PS3s on the network, it can be extrapolated that GPUs could reach 876 TFLOPS.

Below are the current stats at time of publication:

OS Type

Current TFLOPS

Active CPUs

Total CPUs





Mac OS X/PowerPC




Mac OS X/Intel




















The version 1.60 firmware update is now available through Sony’s Web site or via the PlayStation 3 system update feature.

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RE: PS3 power consumption
By Lord Evermore on 3/25/2007 12:00:35 AM , Rating: 2
That's not particularly high power consumption. Put it back in your pants, nobody's impressed. Your power supply isn't drawing 620W, and just because it's rated high doesn't mean it's drawing any more than a 400W PSU would be if installed in that same system. You're probably using 300W to 350W under load with that machine, and your system isn't at load 100% of the time. Even if you used 600W (which would likely actually destroy that PSU), you'd be adding a third more power usage to your household than your PC already could possibly use. With normal PC gamer usage, you'd be more likely doubling it.

Power consumption is power consumption, even if it's a small amount. 200W continuously could be considered expensive for some people. For me to do that 24x7 for 30 days, 144KWH, it'd cost $23.04. Power is relatively cheap for me at 16 cents per KWH. At 25 cents, it'd be 36 bucks a month. Regardless of monetary cost, many people also consider the environmental cost. Using power without thinking about its value is an awful thing to some people. It's up to each individual whether using even such a small amount of energy for a cause as "good" as F@H is worthwhile; some might not think F@H is actually ever going to accomplish anything, so the cost in money and environment may not be worth it.

However given the performance level of the PS3, it is likely that you'd get more work done per watt than with even a fast PC using its CPU, since the PC would use a little less power than the PS3 when both are doing just F@H, but the PC would get only 1/10th as much work done. If you ran it on a computer's GPU of course, it would reverse.

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