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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: ATI GPU can't run too much folding actually!
By abakshi on 5/12/2007 3:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the ATI client is working on mid-range cards from the Radeon X1600 and up. While they're obviously slower than X1950XT's at folding, they're still quite a bit faster than the CPU client. In any case, the Xenos is architecturally closer to the X1900 (48 shader pipes, iirc) for this task than the X1800, etc., so it should do at least as well as a mid-range X1900 series card, assuming they can write software to handle GPGPU functions passing through MS' framework in between.


By Thmstec on 5/12/2007 11:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
umm, no, the Xenos isn't at all like a x1900, it is FAR closer to an 2900. It uses 48 unified shaders, not anything like the weird 16x3 pixel shaders on the x1900.

And what is meant by the GPU clients running fewer apps, its that they can only run one type of folding application...(THIS IS A GENERALIZATION)lets just say there are 5 different ways to fold, a normal CPU can do any of the 5 types, a PS3 can run 3 out of the 5, and a GPU can run 1 out of the 5. But the CPU is the slowest, PS3 imbetween, GPU out in front.


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