RealTime IT News

Finally, a good use for the PS3

PlayStation 3 owners have basically had three uses for their expensive console while waiting for some native games: playing old PS2 games that are compatible, watching Blu-ray movies, and running Folding@Home. It looks like a lot of those PS3 owners are doing the latter. Stanford University, which runs the Folding@Home program, announced it has surpassed the 1 million user mark.

Folding@Home aims to simulate how proteins fold and misfold. Misfolded proteins cause diseases like Alzheimer's , Parkinson's and cancer. However, simulating protein folding is extremely tough due to the speed at which they fold or misfold.

Stanford said that the Cell processor in the PS3 has 10 times the compute power of a PC and the PS3 community is now 74 percent of the total Folding@Home network. With more than 1 million PS3 cranking away, Stanford can now lay claim to a petaflop supercomputer, even if it is distributed all over the planet. The fastest supercomputer, as recognized by the Top 500 list, is the 530 teraflop Blue Gene/L, an IBM design run by the Lawrence Livermore National Labs.

While the Folding@Home network isn't recognized by the Top 500 list, the Guiness Book of World Records has recognized the Folding@Home network as the most powerful distributed network.

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