Stories like this warm GP's cynical heart...
Out of Stanford comes word that the PlayStation 3 will be powerful enough to participate in the university's Folding@Home distributed processing project.
FAH, which targets the study of protein folding and protein folding diseases such as Alzheimer's and Type-2 diabetes, has been ongoing since 2000. Thus far, the project has utilized the power of hundreds of thousands of volunteer home PC's to "perfom calculations which were previously considered impossible."
However, the FAH team is now looking ahead to the launch of the PlayStation 3. From the project's website:
"... we are looking forward to another major advance in capabilities. This advance utilizes the new Cell processor in Sony's PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) to achieve performance previously only possible on supercomputers. With this new technology... we will likely be able to attain performance on the 100 gigaflop scale per computer..."
"With about 10,000 such machines, we would be able to achieve performance on the petaflop scale. With software from Sony, the PlayStation 3 will now be able to contribute... applying our simulations to further study of... Alzheimer's Disease, Huntington's Disease, and certain forms of cancer."
Aside from the satisfaction of contributing to such a noble effort, PS3 users who make their systems available to FAH will enjoy seeing a very cool visualization:
"While the Cell microprocessor does most of the calculation processing of the simulation, the graphic chip of the PLAYSTATION 3 system (the RSX) displays the actual folding process in real-time using new technologies such as HDR and ISO surface rendering. It is possible to navigate the 3D space of the molecule using the interactive controller of the PS3, allowing us to look at the protein from different angles in real-time."
GP: Even though I whined about the cost of the PS3, this may just push me over the edge. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm getting one!