March 15 2007
Stanford University’s Folding@home (FAH) program utilizes distributed computing in an attempt to understand protein folding, misfolding and related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) users now have the capability to connect their PS3™ systems to the FAH network and assist in this protein folding research.
Because the protein folding process happens in about 10 one-millionths of a second, scientists must leverage computer simulations to study them. However, since a simulation and calculation this complex can take several years for one computer to observe, the FAH program sends small packets of information to millions of separate computers in the network. Once each computer tabulates its respective information, it sends it back to a central computer where all the results can be tabulated and viewed together.
In the past, the FAH program utilized primarily personal computers. However, a networked PS3™, thanks to its powerful Cell Broadband Engine™, is roughly 20-30 times faster than a standard PC, allowing researchers to tabulate simulations much faster. What once took 5-10 years to compute can now take a few months.
To join the program, PS3™ users can simply click on the Folding@home icon within the Network menu of the XrossMediaBar (XMB™). Then, when the PS3™ is left on and reaches idle mode, it will automatically begin the simulations.
· A network of roughly 10,000 PS3™s can accomplish the same amount of work as the current network or 200,000 PCs in the FAH program.
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