Alright gamers, it’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to outpace the entire digital community in the race to find a cure for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Cancer. But Stanford’s Folding@Home project is about to change all of that.
Since 2000, Folding@Home (FAH) has led to a major jump in the capabilities of molecular simulation. By joining together hundreds of thousands of PCs throughout the world, calculations which were previously considered impossible have now become routine. FAH has targeted the study of of protein folding and protein folding disease, and numerous scientific advances have come from the project.
Now in 2006, 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 (as well as new advances with GPUs), 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 to the Folding@Home project, pushing Folding@Home a major step forward.
Our goal is to apply this new technology to push Folding@Home into a new level of capabilities, applying our simulations to further study of protein folding and related diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and certain forms of cancer. With these computational advances, coupled with new simulation methodologies to harness the new techniques, we will be able to address questions previously considered impossible to tackle computationally, and make even greater impacts on our knowledge of folding and folding related diseases.
ADVANCED FEATURES FOR THE PS3
The PS3 client will also support some advanced visualization features. 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. For a preview of a prototype of the GUI for the PS3 client, check one of these videos ( 355K avi, 866K avi , 6MB avi , 6MB avi– more videos and formats to come).
If the boys over at Gizmodo did their math right, 2 million PlayStation3 users will be able to contribute a mind boggling 30 gigaflops of “folding power” each!! To put that number into perspective, the average PC can barely eek out 1 gigaflop of folding power and that roughly 830 PS3’s are doing the equivalent work of 322,000 other active computers.
Remember to join the Medgadget Folding@Home team once you set up that PS3. We would even recommend getting one for gaming and one for folding.
Folding@Home for the PS3
Gizmodo has more here and here . . .
YouTube videos for Cure@PS3