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 systemÂ´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 InvestigaciÃ³n MÃ©dica 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.
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