- Jan 20, 2006
- Reaction score
- New Orleans, LA/Cambridge, MA
ign.com said:Back when Ken Kutagari said we'd want to work extra hours to afford a PlayStation 3, a lot of people took some offence to the idea that they should sacrifice part of their lives to benefit Sony. While a $600 PS3 will still mean some sacrifice is necessary for most buyers, today we've learned it won't just be Sony you'll benefit with the purchase.
Via a partnership between Sony and the Folding@home distributed computing project, a client is being developed that will allow idle Cell Processors to turn their considerable computational power from crunching the polygons that makeup curvaceous videogame breasts to crunching the math of folding proteins hold the secret to curing cancer. Like the old SETI@home project that harnessed idle PCs to analyze masses of data collected by radio telescopes in hopes of discovering signals from another world, the Folding@home project will rely upon an army of PlayStation 3s rather than expensive super computers.
Thanks to new computational methods that are able to use streaming processors like the PS3's Cell, and before long, ATI graphics cards, Folding@home believes it will be able to take its research to a higher order of magnitude. The Cell Processor is expected to perform calculations for Folding@home on the scale of 100 gigaflops. With 10,000 PS3s churning away, Folding@home expects Petaflop performance (that's a Quadrillion--1,000,000,000,000,000floating point operations a second). There are currently only 200,000 actively processing Folding@home computers today, which means an influx of millions of PS3s capable of joining the project could massively expand the capabilities of the Folding@home, enough so that project leaders are now considering expanding their simulations to study Alzheimer's and Huntington's Diseases and other forms of cancer.
We think it's pretty cool that the gaming collective may soon be able to put our expensive toys to humanitarian good. Not only will kids have a great reason to nag for a PS3 this Christmas ("But Mom, it cures cancer! If you won't buy it for me Granny will DIE!") but an eventual success could give our generation the extra years we'll need to finally get some photo-realistic gaming going on.
If you're a selfish type that wants some immediate return on allowing your Cell Processor to soak up your electricity, fear not. The Folding@home PS3 client will put the RSX graphics chip to use to display the actual protein folding process in real-time. Users will be able to fly around a large black void examining the atoms and molecules that'll eventually save you or kill you off. Just think, the next time your girl friend gets mad because you're sitting on the couch with the PS3, you'll be able to look her straight in the eye with your best Clooney impression, point to the TV, and say "Baby, I'm saving lives. What have you done today?"