11. 23. 2007
PS3 GRID is a program that allows you to donate your PS3 downtime to compute enzymatic reactions and ion conductivity to help an international team of biomedical researchers. The project 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.
Putting computer downtime to good use for scientific research is nothing new. Back in the late 90s, the seti@home program started using the power of millions of computers around the world to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Many more programs of this kind followed. With the introduction in the consumer market of more and more powerful consoles able to connect to the Internet, it was just a matter of time before someone would think of using their downtime as well.
So why the switch from the PC to the PS3?
“ . . . because it [the PS3] 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.”
Currently, 130 PS3s are hooked up to PS3 GRID. If you are also interested in becoming part of the GRID and contribute to biomedical research, you can download the program at http://www.ps3grid.net/. Save the file onto a USB stick and then transfer it to your PS3 where the program will start automatically after being installed. The console clearly needs to be hooked up to the Internet for the program to function. To switch back to game mode, simply restart the console.
Ahhhh, I might have finally found something to use my PS3 for!