Hands-on with folding@home

The folding@home project enlists PS3 owners from around the world to contribute in computing tasks related to finding cures to diseases. GamerNode decided to see just how it feels to be part of this very worthy cause and put one of our PS3s up to the task.

The principle of distributed computing is simple enough—break up a very complex problem into little pieces and have individual computers work on the equations. In this case, the powerful Cell processor was the workhorse for these duties. We opened the folding@home program, which is included with the PS3’s latest firmware update and started it. After the customary legal agreements were displayed and agreed to, the program ran and showed a rotating Earth with little pin-points of light in various locations. These little glowing glimmers were the locations of all the PS3s churning away at their respective computation packets throughout the world.

In the upper right hand corner of the display was our little piece of the project where various statistics told us how big our segment was and how long it would take to finish. The lower right hand corner has an animation of a large moving molecule, a section of which was the problem our PS3 was working on. Watching the PS3 crank out its share in a search to cure illness produces a satisfying and warm feeling that is, no doubt, what others have felt with the folding@home project.

The program is dedicated to running on its own to take full advantage of the PS3’s power, so playing a game and doing the computing isn’t possible. With that said, it’s a small matter of simply allowing your otherwise powered down or idle PS3 to do some work. It is most certainly worth running in your non-gaming hours. For more info on the folding@home project, log on to the official website.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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