March 15, 2007 7:02 AM PDT

PS3 power requested for research project

If you bought a PlayStation 3 thinking it was just for games or watching movies, Sony wants you to know you can use the powerful device for something a lot more important.

PS3 power Sony announced on Thursday that owners of any Internet-connected PS3 will be able to participate in a wide-ranging, distributed, scientific experiment led by Stanford University's Folding@home program, which is seeking to better understand a process called protein folding and its relationship to several serious diseases.

According to a release from Sony, the Stanford program is focusing on how two-dimensional protein strands in the human body fold into the three-dimensional molecules that determine their biological functions, and why incorrect folding can lead to debilitating diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

But studying the folding process is an extremely complex task requiring vast amounts of computing power, Sony said in its release. Hence the PS3/Folding@home initiative. PS3 participants will be able to lend their console's massive processing power to the effort, much as PC users are able to assist in the SETI@Home project, which is seeking to identify extraterrestrial life.

PS3 users are expected to be able to start lending their machines to the project on March 23, accessing Folding@home via the PS3's XrossMediaBar, the console's interactive menu system. Once participating machines are connected to the project and idle, Folding@home will tap the devices' unused processing power. Users will be able to watch the scientific simulations in real time, Sony said, as well as interact with the research by manipulating protein strands.

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30 comments

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Why can't Stanford buy a few PS3's?
and get their own "massive processing power" machines?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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Sarcasm?
I hope that was sarcasm. If it wasn't you clearly don't understand the benefit of distributed computing.

Why buy a few when you could have hundreds or thousands to help the effort?
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
They could but...
They could but why not use systems that are out there already.

The Folding@home already has a PC based client that is doing a lot of work. The PS3s processors are well suited to the computations that are needed so will make a welcome boost to the whole project. It will also be a good stress test for the PS3 as these are computational intense applications.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Link Flag
Are you guys serious
It's just a marketing ploy by Sony.. the Stanford guys will benefit of course, but the real purpose of this is to advertise the power of the PS3 and to get some positive press.

I already run Folding@home on my own computer, but I don't own a ps3.
Posted by assman (1101 comments )
Link Flag
Because
A handful of PS3s at a university does not compare to the millions of folks who might jump on this.

Yes, it's marketing, but Stanford is probably well aware that the owners of the 105 or 110 million PS2s out there might, eventually, buy a PS3.

Even if we are just talking a small fraction of that 110 million, let's say 5%, decide to jump on the folding@home bandwagon that's over five million machines crunching data that they didn't have before.
Posted by Geoffrey Sperl (18 comments )
Link Flag
Why don't YOU buy a few PS3's and donate them to Stanford?
Or rather, why don't you join Foldings@Home in the first place?
Posted by Jess McLean (61 comments )
Link Flag
I bought a $600 game system to do what?
just one question... why would i care about anything the ps3 can do besides PLAY GAMES. i am a gamer, i want my ps3 to play games, and do that in a superior fashion(still rather play on my 360 tho). c'mon people, can't you see sony is so bad off thats its using the pity/sympathy card with these mass distro research project. a few bleeding hearts will not save you sony.
Posted by dento77 (1 comment )
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much more than a game machine
You bought a machine that also plays music & video, blu-ray HD movies, and browses the web. No one is forcing you to use those features either. Geez.
Posted by Jim L. (1 comment )
Link Flag
If you bought your system only for games then do just that and go away
No one cares about you and your games ... get a life
Posted by urbanprototype (1 comment )
Link Flag
PS3 does what XBOX 1.5 and Wee can't
Obviously XBOX 1.5 is only good for trash talking to your online buddy, and Wee is only good for those not-so-cute Mees. So why should I spend over $600 to buy those machines? I may as well stick with my PS3 and play VF5.
Posted by Jess McLean (61 comments )
Link Flag
Oh really
Are you honestly saying that if blu-ray discs replaced DVDs you wouldn't want to have something lying around to play them, and to have that same thing play games, without having to pay the ridiculous prices on stand-alone players.
Posted by MisterHIan (15 comments )
Link Flag
how do I .......
How do I get you all to let my business use your computing power? Gee, if I didn't need to purchase my computing power, my profits would be great. Don't try to tell me it is non-profit, somebody profits from EVERYTHING. If they need copmuter power, let them buy it like everyone else. Now if I got a few cents a minute for the use of my computer or ps3 then we could talk.
Posted by dart170 (7 comments )
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How About This
You participate in the project and they pay "X"¢/hr for the use of your system. However, instead of paying directly to you, they put it into a fund and tag your contribution. In the event that you get a genetic disease, part of your treatment expenses can be withdrawn from that fund. Would that be fair?

Dang... Everyone's always about "me", aren't they?
Posted by ferricoxide (1125 comments )
Link Flag
PS3s spell doom
They're relying on people actually owning PS3's to cure mankind's ills? It seems we're all doomed to never finding a cure.
Posted by airwalkery2k (117 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We All Die Someday...
So why donate time or money to charity for good cause? Thanks for your twisted logic.
Posted by Jess McLean (61 comments )
Link Flag
I am so sick of flag waving fanboi's
What was that, the Playstation 2 sold how many more units than the Xbox, Gamecube and Dreamcast combined about 58 million more units sold worldwide, really now that is interesting.

Hey FYI Sony sells the Playstation 3 at a loss, meaning they won't obtain profit form hardware sales until the manufacturing gets cheaper, that my friend is called a risky business moves, not decisions normally made by a company that isn't confident in their decision, or maybe Sony is just relying on Spider man 3 to turn in a massive profit, either way Sony will continue to succeed because they have the experience in the entertainment industry my friend.

Companies like SEGA, die because they have no other source of income other than games, Nintendo although they may not fall this time around as they have made innovations with the Wii and DS, if they make another mistake like the Gamecube they might be history, followingmy theory that it takes two console failures to stop making making consoles, example SEGA Saturn, SEGA Dreamcast, SEGA DEAD.

However seeing as both Sony and Microsoft have other sources of revenue, they will stand strong, whether or not their video game entertainment sectors are profitable, Sony will continue to produce music with or without root kits, and will continue to produce films, like Spider man 3 and such and continue to profit from such ventures.
Posted by MisterHIan (15 comments )
Link Flag
Everybody just shut up
Look, I realize that some of you may not realize this but, the
work being done by projects like Folding@home is extreamly
important work that could one day save your life, the life of your
spouse, child, grandchild, etc. So being asked to contribute in a
way that at no point will impare, impede, or reduce your
gamming experience or cost you extra money is not a big
request. Remember, the difference between your PS3 and a
computer is more of a matter of firm and software than of
hardware. If you don't want to contribute fine, be an ass,
nobody cares. However, don't critize the idea/project because
you are unwilling to be a little generous.

As for Sony, who gives a **** if they are getting a little press off
of this. It doesn't matter. The important part is the research
being done.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept of
distributed computing, let me give you a primer. Basicly, if I
have a project that requires astronomical computing power I
have two options. I can one, spend millions of dollars that are
not in my research budget to purchase the computers nessacery
or two, I can write a program that others can download and let
their computers crunch the data in packets it their downtime.
Because, maybe you don't realize this but, most computers
spend about 12 to 16 hours a day idol while the owners are at
work or sleeping. If you want to talk about wasted money, think
about the power loss from running a computer when you are not
using it for up to two thirds of the day.

In short, volunteering for a project like Folding@home, wether
you are on a PC, Mac, PS3 or a home built machine, costs you
little or nothing above and beyond what you are already wasting
so quit your complaining. If you don't want to participate, fine
but, don't be an ass about it if others do.

Oh and just for reference, because I know this question is going
to come up, I do not own a PS3 because I don't have the money.
However, I do run SETI and Einstein@home on my desktop. I do
not run Folding because I think that running two projects on my
machine is enough and, as I am in physics, I prefer to run
projects that are applicable to my field directly.
Posted by BrandonEubanks (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I run http://www.grid.org
I run it on my 2 desktops :)
Posted by Jess McLean (61 comments )
Link Flag
exactly
Everyone feels the need to turn this into an Xbox vs Wii vs PS3 discussion.

God forbid we use our toys for some actual good in the world.
Posted by mf193 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
or
how about you do something to benefit mankind...no one gives 2 craps about your business
Posted by mf193 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not a bad idea
Since PS3 is at the very least part stream processing(who really knows since stream processing has become too much of a marketing buzzword), this is not a bad idea. The increase of flops that stream processing provides is great for distributive computing.

I wonder how long before they take advantage of the new Geforce GPUs in this or a similar project.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wrote a blurb on this a couple of years ago when I was associate editor for a lab magazine. My thought was that it was a way to get involved and contribute to the good of humanity while still gaming. From the reactions here, I guess I underestimated the level of self-involvement pervasive in the world today. I'm glad to hear that you are contributing your "idle" time for something positive.
I personally don't play video games of any kind at all. (I waste enough time watching TV and on my laptop.) I wasn't aware that I could contribute in any other way than through a PS3. Do you have any info on other projects that are compatible with other platforms? (Specifically, my laptop.)
Posted by ajlelo (1 comment )
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