One Million PlayStation 3 Users Power Disease Research - InformationWeek

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2/5/2008
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One Million PlayStation 3 Users Power Disease Research

The project taps into a designated game console's unused compute power to contribute to a distributed computing network.

One million PlayStation 3 users have helped drive the world's most powerful distributed computing network, Stanford University's [email protected] project.

Sony Computer Entertainment announced the milestone Monday, less than a year after it agreed to take part in the project. The company said about two users register for [email protected], or 3,000 PS3 users sign up each day.

Sony announced support for the project last March. Now, PS3 users contribute about 74% of the total teraflop computing power for [email protected]

The project taps into a designated game console's unused compute power. The collective network is then used to understand how proteins fold works and how mistakes in protein folding are related to diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's.

The [email protected] project drew computing power from idle personal computers around the world until PS3 users joined. Researchers said that about 10,000 PS3s perform the same amount of work as a network of 100,000 PCs. That means research simulations can be completed in weeks, instead of years.

Six months after PS3 joined [email protected], the project had spawned the first distributed computing network to surpass a petaflop. In September, Guinness World Records named [email protected] the world's most powerful distributed computing network.

Vijay Pande, [email protected] leader and associate professor of chemistry at Stanford, said researchers are "grateful for the extraordinary worldwide participation by PS3 and PC users."

"Since partnering with SCEI, we have seen our research capabilities increase by leaps and bounds through the continued participation of [email protected] users," Pande said in a prepared statement. "Now we have over one million PS3 users registered for [email protected], allowing us to address questions previously considered impossible to tackle computationally, with the goal of finding cures to some of the world's most life-threatening diseases."

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