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After the success of the non-profit Folding@home project, Sony is interested in leasing out computing power to companies willing to pay

Sony is interested in offering discounts and other incentives to have PlayStation 3 owners create a type of supercomputer grid that can be utilized by businesses.  A number of companies -- especially those working in the medical and pharmaceutical industries -- are interested in harnessing the power from PS3s instead of paying outright for a supercomputer.  Sony would likely have to pay users to keep the PS3 running all the time for the benefit of paying businesses.

Sony is unsure how many PS3 owners will be interested in having someone utilize the computer power of their PS3.  Sony spokespeople said the plan is still in the research stage, so types of incentives and which companies are interested have not been announced.  Discounts on products, free downloads, exclusive content, and points are all possible incentives PS3 owners might receive.

The PlayStation 3 is the main choice for supercomputing since Sony's next-generation console has so much processing power, courtesy of the IBM Cell processor.  A newtork of 10,000 PS3s has the power equivalent to 200,000 home PCs, Sony claims.  

Reports were published last month that showed PlayStation 3 game consoles would be able to participate in Stanford University's Folding@ home program -- a popular distributed computing project that uses the processing power for biomedical research.

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Cost/Gain Ratio
By Alpha4 on 4/12/2007 4:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
This doesn't sound like a bad idea. In fact it would be ideal if users were to queue a series of very large downloads overnight (Downloads earned by previous computing sessions?) and not want their system idle during those periods. For those that wouldn't I imagine power usage would become a concern, so it would have to be determined if the potential gain would surmount the cost of hydro.

On another note, wouldn't the unified shader architecture of the Xbox 360's Xenos provide abundant computing power for folding projects & the like?

RE: Cost/Gain Ratio
By Yeah Yeah on 4/12/2007 4:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
On another note, wouldn't the unified shader architecture of the Xbox 360's Xenos provide abundant computing power for folding projects & the like?


RE: Cost/Gain Ratio
By OxBow on 4/13/2007 12:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
It's be great if Microsoft would join up for Folding. I for one would be glad to leave my 360 folding alongside my PS3.

RE: Cost/Gain Ratio
By borowki on 4/12/2007 4:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's a brilliant idea, really.

A look at the PlayStation Home environment tells you that it's going to require an enormous amount of media contents--huge video, audio, and graphic files. And these are going to have to be updated on an on-going basis. PS3 owners who don't let their consoles cache the contents beforehand will likely find their experience significantly degraded, so most will choose to leave them running 24/7. And since the machines are turned on, why not let them doing something? In this manner Sony will dually profit: While people sleep, PS3s all over the world will be retrieving promotional materials in one direction and sending useful data back in the other. A simply ingenious arrangement, I must say.

RE: Cost/Gain Ratio
By Dactyl on 4/13/2007 4:18:04 AM , Rating: 2
No, Xenos does not provide supercomputing power.

It probably could, if AMD wrote the right drivers for it (like they did for R600).

But it would be a massive waste of their resources to go back and add that functionality to the 360. AMD has to be focused on the future.

I can only see this happening if AMD wanted to give more functionality to the 360 (such as by adding physics calculations), but that probably won't happen because it would cost too many FPS.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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