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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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Don't hold your breath guys...
By TravisO on 5/11/2007 10:34:28 AM , Rating: 2
F@H is never coming to the 360, the reasons are obvious (as stated above):

1. It will increase failure rate
2. MS's warranty is 1yr (see #1)
3. It would allow people to directly compare the 360 to the PS3
4. It's a usage of resources that are too busy keeping the 360 Dashboard feature rich enough to stay ahead of PS3 & Wii

Even though the move to 64nm will make #1 and #2 less important, that won't change anything because people with 90nm 360s will run the client. And MS would NEVER make the F@H app 65nm only because it would confuse the market and make people think their 90nm are inferior or outdated.

By TOAOCyrus on 5/11/2007 12:59:11 PM , Rating: 1
I see no reason to believe F@H will increase the failure rates.

The 360 would destroy the PS3 at F@H as long is it runs on the GPU. ATi r520/580/r600 can do it so I am sure the zenos can.

RE: Don't hold your breath guys...
By phusg on 5/11/2007 2:52:16 PM , Rating: 1
As you say #1 and #2 get less important with later revisions. #3 should be in the XBox's favour and #4 and #5 can be resolved by throttling the speed of the client according to temperature/system stability.

RE: Don't hold your breath guys...
By Thmstec on 5/12/2007 10:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
by usage of resources, I think he means development resources, not system resources....right?

RE: Don't hold your breath guys...
By AndreasM on 5/11/2007 4:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they'll release it after the warranties have expired on the problematic X360 revisions.

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