Can the PS3 save humanity?

Folding@Home PS3 screenshotO.k. that title is a bit over the top, though it is interesting and possible with recent developments. Stanford University has since 2000 been sponsoring a distributed processing project called Folding@Home who’s goal is “to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases.” A recent update to the firmware of the Playstation 3 added a Folding@Home client which has been optimized to take advantage of the multi-core cell processor present in the console. Since that processor was designed for extreme math performance, it was a smart idea to make use of it.

The results are impressive. When I looked this morning at the OS Stats page, the PS3 represented only 16% of the active CPUs but have produced 65% of the recent output. It takes about 63 PS3 (and their 7-8 cores) to produce a TFLOP (teraflop) of computing power compared to 1048 Windows-based PCs to produce the same results.

I look forward to seeing the long-term benefits from all of the additional power.

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