It’s still early, but the newest PS3 version (1.3) is looking very nice scientifically. While the key science upgrades in 1.3 are very much behind the scenes, they are going to play a big role in our work. In particular, the main code to describe how the protein interacts with water was majorly upgraded (to Generalized Born or GB) and we’re getting very nice results with it, but still at a great speed up over a PC.
One interesting side effect of this new GB code is that since the code is more sophisticated scientifically, it uses the Cell processor’s ability to do lots of FLOPS much better. One major challenge for PS3 and GPU programming is just getting the data to the CPU. Once that’s done, in many cases (for us), the flops are almost free (or at least very, very efficient).
So, the upshot is that the new PS3 client in GB does a lot more flops per client, often as many as 35GF in some calculations running in the lab. As we roll out these new GB calcs more and more to FAH/PS3, the performance will go up, and the science we’re getting back will be much more useful, so it will be exciting for us in lots of ways.