The PS3 is a powerful system for scientific calculation. In 2007, it was more powerful than CPUs, but less powerful than GPUs, and took a middle path between scientific flexibility and speed. Other benefits are the uniformity of PS3s (all have the same processor, GPU, RAM, etc) and the ability to stream data quickly to the GPU, allowing for real time visualization of the protein. Since it’s induction, over 15 million PS3 users have participated in FAH, in total donating more than 100 million computational hours.
The PS3 system was a game changer for Folding@home, as it opened the door for new methods and new processors, eventually also leading to the use of GPUs. We have had numerous successes in recent years. Specifically, in a paper just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, we report on tests of predictions from earlier Folding@home simulations, and how these predictions have led to a new strategy to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The next steps, now underway at Stanford, are to take this lead compound and help push it towards a viable drug. It’s too early to report on our preliminary results there, but we’re very excited that the directions set out in this paper do appear to be bearing fruit in terms of a viable drug (not just a drug candidate).
Following discussions with Sony, we retired the PS3 client on November 6, 2012. Please see the PS3 FAQ for more information about the PS3 client.