PetaFLOP is such a great word. It perfectly straddles (as few other technical terms can) the borderline between scientifically impressive and downright silly simultaneously. Strictly defined as a quadrillion Floating Point Objects per Second, a petaFLOP is also an amount of processing power roughly equal to every man, woman and child on earth each possessing the ability to perform 75,000 basic math equations in their heads at the same time -- in other words, a whole lot of computing power. For Stanford's ambitious Folding@Home Project, the milestone of one full petaFLOP of throughput has long stood as a crazy-optimistic goal... The kind of benchmark that disease research scientists go to bed dreaming about. Well, as of today Stanford is pleased to finally announce that the power of over 600,000 registered PS3 Cell processors has at last managed to kick Folding@Home through the 1 petaFLOP goalpoasts. And there was much rejoicing.
"The recent inclusion of PS3 as part of the Folding@home program has afforded our research group with computing power that goes far beyond what we initially hoped" commented Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home project lead. "Thanks to PS3, we are now essentially able to fast-forward several aspects of our research by a decade, which will greatly help us make more discoveries and advancements in our studies of several different diseases."
"When we introduced PS3, we knew its incredible processing power would allow for a great deal of innovation and creativity," added Jack Tretton, president and CEO of SCEA. "It's extremely rewarding to see that the scientific community has found a way to harness PS3 technology for humanitarian purposes and we continue to be amazed at what gamers and the Folding@home community have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time."
The great success of Folding@Home is certainly an example of how little pockets of individual effort can contribute to a big difference in our global understanding of ailments and disease. While the Sony Corporation occasionally speaks obliquely about opening up the power of the platform to other humanitarian or socially beneficial initiatives (and also about possibly commercializing it). At the moment though, Folding@Home remains the only application of its kind native to the PS3. Those who have somehow missed out on the project can download Folding@Home anytime over the PS3's XMB (Cross Media Bar). With the power saving features and other enhancements offered by Version 1.2, it's easier and more efficient than ever to get on board. Users on other platforms can also contribute by downloading a Folding@Home client for Mac, PC or Linux over at the project's official website.
So let's all raise a glass for Stanford U's Folding@Home project -- now officially the largest and FLOPpiest distributed computing initiative under the sun.