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  1. #1

    PS3 Square Button Folding@home Details

    March 15, 2007 - Hey, Alzheimer's, the gamers are coming for you.

    Officals from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Stanford University's Folding@home program met on the college campus and announced that the long-hyped PS3 program that will crunch data on disease is set to go live at the end of the month.

    "It's really a perfect fit for us because it lets us apply our technological advancement to something that is so good and so important," said Richard Marks, senior researcher with Sony Computer Entertainment America. "One of the main reasons we're here today is just kind of a call to action to PlayStation 3 owners."

    Curing diseases is as simple as a single button press.

    Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's and cystic fibrosis all involve proteins being folded wrong in some way or another. It's a complicated process that scientists are trying to understand in hopes of creating cures and preventative measures for these ailments.

    "We want to understand what is going on at a microscopic scale," said Vijay Pande, associate professor of Chemistry at Stanford and the Folding@home project lead.

    The problem is, creating simulations that mimic microscopic, misfolding proteins takes a while. A long while. Folding@home started "distributed computing," a program that sent packets of data to participating computers for computation, in October 2000, and it took two years to calculate the initial Alzheimer's information, Pande said.

    Enter the PS3.

    Using it's Cell Broadband Engine, Sony's pride and joy can run these simulations roughly 20 to 30 times faster than the standard PC. If the two million PS3 units in homes across the globe jump on the Folding@home train, researchers hope to accomplish what once took them years in a matter of months.

    "That's a huge amount of computation power overall," Marks said.

    Packaged with a system update expected to go live at the end of March, Folding@home will pop up on the XrossMediaBar and feature two ways for gamers to get their cure on - PS3 owners can either click on the Folding@home icon to enter the program or set the application up to run automatically anytime the PS3 enters idle mode from the XMB screen.

    Whatever way you choose, the protein data is downloaded from Stanford, crunched on your unit and uploaded back to Stanford.

    If you choose to click the icon yourself, you'll be treated with a model of a protein fold. The motley image of rods connected to red, blue and yellow balls vibrates and bounces in the center of the screen while the computer manipulates the data. If a quick image of the model grabs your attention, you can pause the image and rotate it while the actual processing continues on.

    Although you probably won't spend hours staring at your flat-screen while Folding@home goes to work - even though you can change the HD visualization and zoom in and out - there are some nifty features the number cruncher comes equipped with. A user can personalize their machine's name, keep track of the number of protein folds the system has completed work on, check how far along the current fold is, see the latest project news and view a live map to see how many other PS3s are working on complex protein problems.

    The PS3 puts the Cell to medical use.

    Of course, it wouldn't be a video game without competition.

    Users can create and join teams to track the total numbers of projects completed and see how they're fairing against users across the world. To create a team, users choose the option from the Folding@home screen and are redirected to the Stanford homepage through the PS3 Web browser. Once created, give your team number to friends and they join in a similar program-to-browser move. A list of teams will be available on the Stanford Web site, but there is no way to keep riff-raff researchers from joining your team.

    "There's a lot here for users to do if they choose, but as I mentioned before, all they have to do is click on it and it's helping," Marks said.

    The voluntary program is free but needs to run on its own - i.e. no background experiments.

    "I think that we'll probably never do" downloads "while you're playing a game," Marks said. "When we're running this, we want all out computation involved with this."

    Thanks to for sharing the news with us!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    this is great news, and i'm just hoping that the different security holes stay around at least untill i can get the firmware that has this. i've been wanting to get this powerful puppy cranking away for good since they originally announced this, so let there be hope that any future loaders will work on the firmware that implements this. [: cheers sony.

    {now if you can just get in cahoots with fox to bring one of the greatest beat'em ups on the PSN i would be in heaven. [oh i'm talking to you sony, and i'm talking about simpsons]}

  3. #3
    i hope we get rewarded from time to time for the contributions of our processing power. maybe add funds to our ps3 wallet?

  4. #4
    All joking aside, we should create a PS3News team, and then we'll just be the lucky one's of the cure cancer... (I hope we can continue to fold, even if we choose to have homebrew on our system)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    I can't see why I wouldn't allow the PS3 to run a few nights each month if it makes that big of a contribution.

    But after finding out the PS3 uses 25 cents every 2 hours, thats probably close to $1.50 per night my machine folds for them. It would be nice to get some kind of reward for long periods of folding for them, perhaps a free PSN download after so many hours of folding.

    @ $1.50 per night it'll cost my parents about an extra 9$ a month onto their power bill.

    I'll still contribute once in a while.

  6. #6
    I think that fold@home is an excellent idea to help cure the various diseases, and as much as I hate to say it, I would much rather lend my PS3 to be used for such a just cause than have homebrew anyhow. I just hope somebody doesn't try to mess with fold@homes coding and report false information to Stanf0rd, one wrong bit of information would cripple the research.

  7. #7
    I've been folding for a long time now and at first sight of this news I about jumped out of my chair. Until a gut wrenching feeling came over me.

    I have a feeling this project will fail. Who's going to turn this app on for a couple hours at a time until the user feels he/she must turn it off to leave their PS3 unattended? A few times? Until it becomes a hassle?

    You can NOT leave a PS3 on 24/7. I'm on my second PS3 and I tried leaving my second one on over night and sure enough the same thing happens. I brought up GripftShift and played for about 10 minutes when I start to see graphical artifacts, the screen flashes on a off and the sound cuts out for 20 seconds at a time. Followed by poor frame rate. The same thing would happen with my launch PS3 and my current PS3 is only two weeks old.

    These units burn up easily. Someone's going to turn this app on, walk away from it and a few days later come back to a dead PS3. This app will run full throttle, more then any game you will ever run (at least for a long time) and produce more heat then has been produced thus far.

    Even if a certain person is able to leave their magical PS3 on over night and have no problems, they certainly aren't the norm and the norm needs to be addressed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    while i'm not disagreeing with what you're saying TechnoFreak, i've left mine on overnight once (only once), and didn't notice any extreme amount of heat.... just to be clear, and i sure hope you're in agreement with me on this, adding ANYTHING to the PS3 to get it to "cool" or "vent" better, like those N-tercooler junk things, will actually end up hurting more than helping.... hot air is SUPPOSED to come out of the unit, trying to blow "cool" air into the machine or force hot air out any faster is effectively adding to the destruction of the unit - i've been told a lot of XBOX360 owners already know about this issue as they've had to replace their units because of such products....

    sucks that you had that happen to first unit, i won't leave my PS3 on for more than a few hours at a time, longest time being to watch a full length movie and then play a game for another hour or so.... while i don't think the project will FAIL (failure being defined as not accomplishing the end result), i do think you're 100% right that it won't succeed in its mission.... we all have computers to do folding tasks (if we so choose), we won't spend our time using up the PS3 for it!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoFreak View Post

    You can NOT leave a PS3 on 24/7. I'm on my second PS3 and I tried leaving my second one on over night and sure enough the same thing happens.
    I've left mine on for probably a week straight in the past. Never had any issues at all. I leave it on over night often, depending if I was playing around with Linux on it, ect.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    If its properly ventilated theres no reason why you cannot run it for 24+ hours in a row.

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