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Xbox 360 may fight alongside the PlayStation 3 to help find cures for disease

After the version 1.60 system update for the PlayStation 3, Sony’s console has been capable of lending a helping hand to Stanford University’s Folding@home effort to help find cures to various protein-related diseases. The PlayStation 3 has been contributing more than half of the total processing power of Folding@home, thanks to the power of the Cell Broadband Engine, a point which has been much publicized.

The PS3’s in the distributed computing project has Xbox 360 owners curious if and how well their consoles would work on Folding@home. Peter Moore, VP of Microsoft’s entertainment division, recently addressed that issue saying, “We continue to look at this and see whether there’s real value,” adding that Bill Gates “quite frankly has had a conversation about this” and notes that Gates is interested in applying “philanthropic processing power to big problems.”

“But I’m not quite sure yet whether we’re seeing real tangible results from the PlayStation 3 Folding@Home initiative,” Moore continued. “Then if we truly believe that we can in some way marshall the resources of a much larger installed base of Xbox 360 owners, with a processer that’s of equal power to the PS3, then you have my commitment that we’ll look at that. And if we believe we can add value to solving a gnarly problem such as the medical problems and the health problems that Folding@home seems to be doing, then we’ll certainly look at that very strongly.”

Recently, Stanford professor and Folding@home program lead Vijay Pande said in an interview that the PlayStation 3’s CPU would be far more effective than the Xbox 360’s CPU.

“We are simulating key processes in protein folding and misfolding in Alzheimer's Disease. PS3's are performing aspects of these simulations, and doing so about 20 times faster than a typical PC,” Pande said. When asked if the Xbox 360 could be of use to the Folding@home program, he answered, “Possibly, although the cell processor in the PS3 is much more powerful for our calculations than the CPU in the Xbox 360.”

Microsoft may not want to participate in Folding@home in fears that the project would point out that the PlayStation 3’s Cell Broadband Engine is faster than the Xbox 360’s Xenon processor at performing protein-folding calculations.

While the Xbox 360 CPU may not be tops in terms of Folding@home, its ATI-developed Xenos GPU could possibly eclipse PS3’s CPU. ATI Radeon GPUs currently running Folding@home are outperforming the PlayStation 3 on a per capita basis. Though whether or not the Xbox 360 will ever get its crack at helping to cure a disease remains to be seen.



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RE: Tangible?
By hyperbolicparody on 5/11/2007 10:20:49 AM , Rating: 2
But has F@H sold more PS3s? I'd guess that since Microsoft Gaming would be responsible for writing a client, they'd have to move a (decent) sized crew off of existing products to make a app. that could compete with a PS3 (IE use all of the Logical CPUs on the XBox360 and modify the ATI app as needed for their tweaked GPU).

Before doing that, they'd need to feel really confident that they could at least compete with a PS3. I'm really not a big fan of the PS3's hardware, but I think all us 360 fanboys need to admit that it has some giddy-up under the hood when properly applied.

That's money invested... and unless they can finagle a way to take a tax-credit or feel that the market would support such a move (IE improve image/sell more units) I'm not so sure it makes buisness sense. In the end, they're responsible to the shareholders, not the general public (although Mr. Gates is one of the most Philanthropic people on Earth... and should still have the weight to say "do it now" and all of the Evil Empire quakes).


RE: Tangible?
By Hemipower on 5/11/2007 12:04:04 PM , Rating: 3
I wanna see how long these 360s are gonna last now, with the cpu and gpu being used to fold, how hot is this thing gonna get. I am now on my 4th 360 and have friends with similar experiences, with the folding I'd probably be on my 6th.

My Ps3 is on all day folding and never gets really hot, and its a launch Ps3, albeit there is nothing else to do with it yet. I am curious if microsoft is just making PR about this, saying "if they let us we can show the 360 cpu is as powerful as the cell", but in reality they might have the program already and not want to put it out because of the opposite, I don't know.

Here are some reciept pics from BB.
http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z246/jose70mino...
http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z246/jose70mino...
http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z246/jose70mino...
http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z246/jose70mino...


RE: Tangible?
By Tsuwamono on 5/11/2007 12:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
my AMD 64 4200 is OCed to 2.6ghz and i run F@H for 16 hours at a time.. when my PC is idle its at 28C.. when my PC is running F@H its at 32C. Running F@H doesnt raise your temps that much. The reason the 360s were failing was an actual problem with the die. Last year Celestica i believe was contracted to find the problem so that IBM could fix it. Now im not sure if they fixed it or not but i know that the 360 doesnt die from heat unless your dumb enough to put it inside a box. In which case the PS3 would die too.

PS i run stock AMD HS and i have 1 120mm fan in my PC for cooling


RE: Tangible?
By phusg on 5/11/2007 2:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Running F@H doesnt raise your temps that much.

That's a dangerous generalization! You certainly can't make it on the basis of comparing your PC to the XBox 360.

I think the other guys in this thread are right and Microsoft isn't going for the folding@home support because they are afraid of even higher failure rates, especially on the older hardware revisions. They could probably release a version that is dependent on hardware revision that only runs on suitable XBoxes, but they may see that a downer on the publicity side. That would be a real shame for the medical research that Stanford is trying to do on the basis of the folding@home client. I would advise them to adjust the client so that it throttles system usage back depending on temperature/hardware revision; that way everyone's a winner!


RE: Tangible?
By jkresh on 5/11/2007 3:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Something is wrong with either your temperature monitor or your folding at home installation. F@H should be loading you cpu at 100%, while its not as intense a load as orthos you should see a much higher then 4C difference between load and idle with a stock amd heatsink.


RE: Tangible?
By SmokeRngs on 5/14/2007 2:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd guess that since Microsoft Gaming would be responsible for writing a client


This would be incorrect. The Stanford Folding Project would be responsible for writing the actual client. Yes, they would need help and collaboration from the Xbox team to properly implement and test it but that would likely be most of what MS would have to do.

Stanford has been the only one to write clients for their program. This is one of the reasons it has taken so long for an SMP client to come out even though they had been promising it for years.


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