, Short-Media's favorite distributed computing project, is coming to a PS3 near you. Folding@Home uses spare CPU cycles to calculate the folding of proteins in the human body with the aim of finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Now, your spare PS3 power won't go to waste either. Sony has revealed that the PS3 Folding client will be made available with the next system software update, which will be released "at the end of March," but is expected on March 23rd.
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With the update, the Folding client can be run from the network menu of the console's XMB interface. The client can also be set to run automatically when the PS3 is idle. The automatic setting is not on by default, but can be utilized if you keep your PS3 powered on, and its network connected. Users can also enjoy fly through visualization of the proteins being folded, courtesy NVIDIA's RSX graphics chip.
The PS3 client, along with the previously-released GPU client, is part of the Folding project's Petaflop Initiative
. It's believed that 10,000 PS3s alone could generate a petaflop of computing performance, which is faster than any currently-operating supercomputer. Considering that the client will be available to any PS3 connected to the Internet, the potential impact on the Folding project is enormous.
Sony has shipped one million PS3s to North America. If just 1% of current
North American PS3 owners decide to participate in the Folding project, the petaflop goal will have been reached. The possibilities multiply when you consider sales in Japan, an upcoming release in Europe, and the amount of PS3s that will continue to be sold over the following years. If Sony's claim that the Cell Broadband Engine is approximately ten times faster than a desktop CPU is true, then adding 10,000 PS3s to a project currently made up of around 200,000 computers would increase to total input to the project by 50%.
But that's not the best news. No, the best news is that Short-Media has a Folding Team
, and you too can join. PS3s are always welcome.