Gamers use PS3s to do biomedical research

It's kind of like SETI@home, but with PS3s instead of PCs and molecules instead of aliens. In the latest volunteer scientist program, called PS3GRID, anyone who owns a Sony PlayStation3 can donate their system´s downtime to compute enzymatic reactions and ion conductivity to help an international team of biomedical researchers. PS3GRID is coordinated by researchers at the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at the Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica and the Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. The distributed infrastructure enables any PS3 to do computations on atomic and molecular simulations.

The researchers, headed by GRIB scientist Gianni De Fabritiis, chose the PS3 because it is the first consumer device to contain the IBM Cell processor. "The Cell," which is more than an order of magnitude faster than standard Intel or AMD processors, optimizes the types of computation commonly used in graphics applications. In addition, the Cell offers an inexpensive and powerful method to perform highly detailed molecular dynamics simulations of biomedical systems. Using the Cell, a PS3 has the computational power equivalent to about 20 PCs.

View: Full Story @ Physorg

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

First Tests: AMD's New Phenom CPU Won't Scare Intel

Next Story

China: 'aggressive and large-scale' espionage against US


Commenting is disabled on this article.

folding@home been doing this for months already... ive had folding@home running on my quad core rig , and the version i was using was an experimental one written just for trying out symmetric multiprocessing, like according to the f@h website , one of the ps3's firmwares actually contain a copy of f@h that users can choose to run?

the thing about pcs is that its meant to be a balance of everything you could possibly do with it, but with the ps3 its a dedicated gaming machine so its got more floating point performance or something, i dunnoe, but yeah i think each core on a pc cpu already has a weaker fpu than each core in the ps3 , and then the ps3 has 7 cores

also this isnt searching for aliens, this is actual real scientific work, they are waiting for the calculations to be done before deciding on what to do when they next go back into the labs to do any real experiments, otherwise they would have so many combinations to try that its literally like cracking passwords , well at least thats what i know from f@h... i dont own a ps3 myself but i think it would be quite obvious for them to make it run in the background? when you leave it on , it runs the distributed computing app but the moment you do anything , it stops and runs whatever you tell it to... or it could still be running when your doing stuff that doesnt take up 100% cpu like watching movies or whatever... but mostly it involves leaving the ps3 on, think of it as a weak and noisy electrical heater for the winter months....

"Using the Cell, a PS3 has the computational power equivalent to about 20 PCs. "

what kind of pc's??? like some old 1995 ones? seriously, where do they get this info? its got to be 20 pc's before the year 2000, becuase im even sure that 20 pc's could run madden 08 in more than 30 fps :P

Truth be told, at first I thought it was a nice touch to add the folding thing. But now, I never find myself using it, as when I turn on the PS3, it's to play games.

So when will people use the PS3 for playing games and having fun?

...or has Sony released a 5th (or is it 6th?) PlayStation 3 model already with ALL gaming hardware removed?

I like how the "PlayStation" brand was all about games before, but now its about spitting in the face of gamers in the name of pushing a highly flawed idea.


Nothing huge has come out of ANY of these applications. When something does, it'll be so small you'll never hear about it unless Sony uses it to try and make the PS3 look like it did something really important.

In 2010 you'll see something on the internet:

SETI@Home found a small radio signal thanks to the PS3 SETI project

Two days later:

Turns out that signal the PS3 helped find came from Earth. Bummer

I notice that more people are noticing that all this news with the @Home projects on the PS3 just means that a large chunk of PS3's do nothing but sit there collecting dust instead of being used to watch a movie or play a game.

I actually have nothing against the system itself. I just don't like how Sony treats their customers these days and they hyped up the PS3 to make it look god-like when it's really nothing special at all. The Wii showed that people care more about innovation than just fancy graphics and everything else.

Interesting choice, to compare it with SETI@home.

Don't forget the PC community already has various initiatives like this for medical research, like Folding@home or World Community Grid.