Global Game Industry News Blog

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mommy, I want to play protein Folding@Home!

So, looks like Sony and Folding@Home have gotten together (I'm not quite sure who pioneered this idea) and are going to release a Folding@Home client for the PS3. It's pretty cool, and some of the advanced visualization options which are going to be available, are also super sweet, I'm a little bit concerned about what happens when mommy and daddy take a look at their power bills after all the little Jimmys and Jennys have left their PS3 on for weeks at a time. Then again those little Jimmys and Jennys mommies and daddies probably have plenty of money to burn, considering that they've got a PS3 in the first place.

Sony is probably using this as a technological demonstration, which is both good PR, and a reasonable way to demonstrate that power of the CELL processor. Not that they're wrong, but I'm probably not going to be the first or last person who says, "protein folding code ain't game code b*tch."

Why hasn't Folding@Home released a client for the PC that does the cool visualization that the PS3 is doing? Because they're using more of the CPU and GPU to do the actual crunching. In all likelihood the same is true for the PS3, but Sony needed not a good client (most efficient client), but something that looked sexxy but also did the F@H work.

It also makes me wonder what it takes to get this kind of partnership. It probably helps that Stanford is doing the F@H project, which puts them in closer proximity with game industry folks willing to work on something like this. I know from personal experience that Sony didn't have any interest in working with a tech school in the northeast on a piece of software aimed at inner city youth helping them improve standardized testing scores in math and science, despite the fact that said software's prototypes were award winning. It's good to be in California I guess.

PS3 FAQ
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.

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