Folding@Home client for the PS3 approaching

By Justin Mann on March 15, 2007, 12:32 PM
If you are a fan of distributed computing projects such as Folding@Home, you've likely heard the rumors regarding a client being released for the PlayStation 3. Soon, it will be released, with Sony already have demonstrated it last year. The client, which will run when your PS3 is idle, works much in the same way the PC client does and can be configured to report results to a Folding@Home team. What's most interesting is that supposedly the client for the PS3 will be able to complete a single work unit 10 to 30 times faster than a desktop PC – that's beyond impressive, if true, and shows that the Cell processor does have a lot of potential with software optimized for it. Then again, this is a claim coming straight from Sony, who have more than enough incentive to play up the PS3.

It's an interesting project, and if you have a habit of leaving your PS3 on all the time anyways, you might want to give it a try.




User Comments: 3

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nathanskywalker said:
I don't know much about the architecture of the ps3, or cell technology, but from a brief glance[url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_3[/url][
rl]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_microprocessor[/url][
uote]Central processing unit Main article: Cell microprocessorThe PS3's 3.2 GHz Cell processor, developed jointly by Sony, Toshiba and IBM ("STI"), is an implementation to dynamically assign physical processor cores to do different types of work independently. It has a PowerPC-based "Power Processing Element" (PPE) and six accessible 3.2 GHz Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). A seventh runs in a special mode and is dedicated to aspects of the OS and security, and an eighth is disabled to improve production yields. The PPE, SPEs and other elements ("units") are connected via an Element Interconnect Bus which serves to connect all of the units in a ring-style bus. The PPE has a 512-KB level 2 cache and one VMX vector unit. Each SPE is a RISC processor with 128-bit SIMD GPRs and superscalar functions. Each SPE contains 256 KB of non-cached memory (local storage, "LS") that is shared by program code and work data. SPEs may access more data in the main memory using DMA. The floating point performance of the whole system (CPU + GPU) is reported to be 2 TFLOPS.[89] PlayStation 3's Cell CPU achieves 204 GFLOPS single precision float and 15 GFLOPS double precision. The PS3 has 256 MB of Rambus XDR DRAM, clocked at CPU die speed.The Cell microprocessor allows programmers to assign SPEs different work by running individual programs on them. Programmers may also arrange data flow in different ways, for example using parallel, pipelined or streamed processing data flow models. As an example for parallel processing performance gains, one core could work on decoding and multiplexing audio, another core may perform computations on realistic projectiles ballistics, while another might govern the activities of the main character. The programmer still has three more cores not yet assigned but the only remaining tasks are to collect the work performed and display the results on the screen. Since the program code on each SPE core is executed from its local store memory, much more Element Interconnect Bus bandwidth is available to transfers of work data. An obvious downside to this is that there is a 256-KB size restriction on SPE programs, which may present a challenge for certain programming tasks.[/quote] ( and articles I remember reading before the ps3 came out) doesn't the ps3 technically have 9 cores? Even if it does not exactly use all of them for physical processing, doesn't that mean you could run several console versions of F@H instead of the average 1-4 (1 for single cpu, 4 for quad-very rare still)?
howzz1854 said:
what they're refering to are not physical cores. they're units, as processing units. modern processors generally have several FPUs sitting on a single die which makes up a "core". none the less, Cell was produced as a heavy duty server processor. its down side is that it's incompatible with X86 OS enviroment, but most modern server machines operate in Unix anyway. it is no doubt that it's a powerful processor but 10-30 times faster in F@H?, i don't know.... but then again this is SONY we're talking about. they got a track record of bragging.
nathanskywalker said:
[b]Originally posted by howzz1854:[/b][quote]what they're refering to are not physical cores. they're units, as processing units. modern processors generally have several FPUs sitting on a single die which makes up a "core". none the less, Cell was produced as a heavy duty server processor. its down side is that it's incompatible with X86 OS enviroment, but most modern server machines operate in Unix anyway. it is no doubt that it's a powerful processor but 10-30 times faster in F@H?, i don't know.... but then again this is SONY we're talking about. they got a track record of bragging. [/quote]That makes more sense, looks like I've got some reading to do. And yes, 10-30 times is rather significant, but if the news about quantum computers hold any ground, maybe if that will be small stuff within a matter of years.
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