Press releaseSony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today announced that PLAYSTATION3 (PS3) computer entertainment systems, part of Stanford University's Folding home program, have enabled the distributed computing project to reach a petaflop, a milestone never before reached on a distributed computing network. Known amongst the scientific community, a petaflop is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS). In other words, if every person on the planet were to perform a simple mathematical calculation, such as calculating a percentage, each person would have to perform 75,000 calculations every second for the world's population to achieve a petaflop.
By achieving a petaflop, scientists with the Folding home program are now able to conduct research that typically would not be possible for 10 years down the line. Thanks to the PS3's powerful Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.), scientists will now be able to make greater progress in their studies of protein folding and its link to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and certain forms of cancer.
"The recent inclusion of PS3 as part of the Foldinghome program has afforded our research group with computing power that goes far beyond what we initially hoped," said Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Foldinghome project lead. "Thanks to PS3, we are now essentially able to fast-forward several aspects of our research by a decade, which will greatly help us make more discoveries and advancements in our studies of several different diseases."
“When we introduced PS3, we knew its incredible processing power would allow for a great deal of innovation and creativity,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO of SCEA. "It's extremely rewarding to see that the scientific community has found a way to harness PS3 technology for humanitarian purposes and we continue to be amazed at what gamers and the Folding@home community have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time."
Because the process of folding proteins is so complex, computers are used to perform simulations to study the process. Since these simulations can take up to 30 years for a single computer to complete, Folding@home enables this task to be shared among thousands of computers connected via the network, utilizing distributed computing technology. The Folding@home program up until recently leveraged only the distributed computing power of personal computers (PC) from around the world. The PCs that made up the Folding@home network numbered roughly 200,000 giving the program the equivalent of about one-quarter of a petaflop. On March 15, 2007, PS3 joined the program and since then close to 600,000 unique PS3 users have registered to the Folding@home network, bringing the overall computing power of the program to more than a petaflop.
PS3 users can join the program by simply clicking on the Folding@home icon within the Network menu of the XMB (XrossMediaBar) or can optionally set the application to run automatically whenever the PS3 is idle.