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Folding @ Home Petaflop Barrier Crossed

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the soon-they-will-take-over-the-world dept.

PlayStation (Games) 90

The official PlayStation blog is reporting that the petaflop barrier has been crossed by the nodes participating in the Folding @ Home project. The article talks about what this means for computer science, and why this awesome amount of computational power was reachable. "Just six months after we launched the program, nearly 600,000 PS3 users have registered. Second, we made several improvements to the application (v 1.2) that helped make the computations more accurate and enabled us to squeeze even more work out of each and every PS3 console -- we went from 450 teraflops to 800 teraflops. These factors, combined with the contribution from all the other platforms, helped us cross the barrier, which happened sometime over the weekend."

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90 comments

Intriguing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20690073)

What's this about PS3s being best for this?

Sure... it's awsome for this... (2, Insightful)

gmezero (4448) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690123)

There aren't any games, so it's just sitting there doing nothing anyways. Might as well burn cycles on something useful.

Granted that could change once there is more compelling content around, but until then, fold away.

i am the cycle that counts (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690155)

i downloaded the client on friday and i've put two others onto doing the same....seriously i did.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690249)

There aren't any games, so it's just sitting there doing nothing anyways.

Not true. Guitar Hero III just came out for xBox360, PS3, and the Wii.

But the rest of the time, while you're not using it, having it do something useful like fold proteins is a really good use of a game console.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690277)

Not true. Guitar Hero III just came out for xBox360, PS3, and the Wii.

Really? Because last I checked, the release date [gamerankings.com] was supposed to be sometime near the end of October. It's even too early for stores to break the release date, since they can't possibly have the game in stock yet more than a month before the release.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690497)

There are other games too.

Look, worst case scenario, go buy Madden 2008 or something. The PS3 is fairly good for a number of sports games, and if you have HDTV, they are designed to utilize that. For general games overall, sure, it's kind of a desert on the PS3, but if you want FPS or sports the PS3 is fairly well situated.

Probably easier to get xBox360 versions, of course.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690843)

[...] if you want FPS or sports the PS3 is fairly well situated.
Which is saying a lot, now isn't it? I guess Sony has the frat boy demographic sealed! Really though, I don't think you can consider anything that operates with a clunky gamepad as "well situated" for a FPS.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20694935)

Unreal Tournament 3 will use keyboard and mouse on the PS3.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20696867)

It'll also utilize such a setup on the PC. Why buy a console to use a mouse and keyboard?

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747833)

Because the $600 ps3 plays games you need a $1000+ pc to run as well. Not to mention not having to worry about driver issues, os issues, hardware issues, etc. Console sare for people who just want to put in the game and have it work. The mouse and keyboard thing was just the developer knowing what fans want, and acknowledging that the ps3 could provide that. Nothing wroung with that.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (3, Insightful)

edmudama (155475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690537)

you do realize that with the power consumption of a PS3, your folding is spending a few dollars a month right?

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691451)

you do realize that with the power consumption of a PS3, your folding is spending a few dollars a month right?

And? Assuming it costs $5, that's $60 per year. Consider that 1. you're playing games some of that time, and the machine is off some of the time, so the cost may well be only $30-$50, and 2. it's for a good cause. Multiply out the number of people running Folding@Home, on PS3's and on PC's, and you'll realize that F@H is getting the equivalent of a lot of donations, without the overhead of maintaining all the boxes themselves. 600,000 PS3 clients -- let's estimate that the average one is only on 1/4 of the time, so we have the equivalent of 150,000 machines running full-time at a cost of $60 per year. That's $900,000 of power, plus (assuming they're $500 each, from a quick Google search) runtime on $75,000,000 worth of machines at any given time. In other words, without that stack of PS3's, there's no way they could do the research they're doing, so you should support them.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691785)

Those are some nice numbers, but you missed a few:

(600000 PS3s * 200W * 6 hours a day) + 0 results * 6 years

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690951)

Sorry, but my PS3 isn't being spent on energy-bill-increasing cycles to benefit drug companies.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (4, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691707)

I doubt the FDA would allow for Open Source Drug development in our own homes. So, your only source for such curing chemical compounds is through the drug companies.

A life saving cure may be found a lot sooner thanks to this folding research. And I would rather have my life saved when in need than be bitter over who's CEO pockets I will be lining.

Life isn't always fair. But we should at least make it more bearable for those stricken with an unfortunate ailment.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20694463)

It's not that i would be worried about lining a owner's pockets so much as wondering where the development of these cures took place.

Endless amounts of useless clock cycles, or a bunch of mice / poor Africans?

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#20694673)

Luckily, it doesn't work that way:

Who "owns" the results? What will happen to them?
  Unlike other distributed computing projects, Folding@home is run by an academic institution (specifically the Pande Group, at Stanford University's Chemistry Department), which is a nonprofit institution dedicated to science research and education. We will not sell the data or make any money off of it.

Moreover, we will make the data available for others to use. In particular, the results from Folding@home will be made available on several levels. Most importantly, analysis of the simulations will be submitted to scientific journals for publication, and these journal articles will be posted on the web page after publication. Next, after publication of these scientific articles which analyze the data, the raw data of the folding runs will be available for everyone, including other researchers, here on this web site.

http://folding.stanford.edu/faq.html#project.own [stanford.edu]
Making drug companies use your computer to do research on their future patents is something nobody should want to do. Especially when you know the disgusting practices of companies like Johnson&Johnson. Their aids research springs into mind: they first find some people who are willing to participate in an experiment, give them medication, and when they find out it works, they stop the experiment and let those poor guys perish. Of course they don't do it in the developed countries, they go to Africa where there is little chance of lawsuits.

They deal with life and death, and yet "ethics" is a word totally unknown to them. Despicable.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 6 years ago | (#20717425)

I doubt the FDA would allow for Open Source Drug development in our own homes. So, your only source for such curing chemical compounds is through the drug companies.

A life saving cure may be found a lot sooner thanks to this folding research. And I would rather have my life saved when in need than be bitter over who's CEO pockets I will be lining.


Maybe open source drug development isn't such a scary thing. If the formula obtained from a publicly run computer system becomes public domain knowledge, the profit-killing competition would make drug companies very reluctant to invest in developing a drug regardless of the good it does. Government should step up by paying competing drug companies to develop drugs based on useful knowledge that has been obtained on a public computer.

The world is ia big place so there's still a good chance some company won't let the knowledge go to waste.

Re:Sure... it's awsome for this... (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20699133)

Sorry, but my PS3 isn't being spent on energy-bill-increasing cycles to benefit drug companies.

Perhaps you would feel differently if you saw a loved one succumb to cancer.

Re:Intriguing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20690457)

PS3 isn't the best for Folding@home.

The GPU engine is over twice as powerful at folding than the PS3 CPU. The GPU is just better suited for complex maths stuff.

Clarification (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20694539)

The GPU client is indeed much faster than the PS3 or quad core cpu at the moment. It is also less generic or versatile with the calculations it can perform. The x86 CPU is the most generic and versatile, then the PS3 and then the GPU client which has the least versatility. The last F@H 1.2 update for the PS3 added some more generic calculation ability and added performance enhancements.

Best is relative to what is needed here. The current research needed at any given moment seems to determine which method will produce the best and most useful results.

Re:Clarification (1)

hedkandee (1148031) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698249)

SO are you saying all that ps3 power is useless without the generic x86 clients processing their output?

Re:Clarification (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20699569)

Just in case you are not just trolling, none of the clients are "useless". The GPU and PS3 clients produce completed work units, no further processing required. Just to pull some meaningless numbers out of thin air, consider that the x86 or PPC clients can be used to crunch on 100% of the available work units. The PS3 may be able to process ~75% and the GPU client possibly 50%. You will be able to get answers to all of your questions here [stanford.edu].

Re:Intriguing (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 6 years ago | (#20700737)

I wonder why the parent got modded as flamebait.

Sony and FAH ported the folding software for use on the PS3. It's fast as hell. IIRC, it's 40x faster than the typical CPU. FAH comes installed on the PS3, you just need to enable it.

Re:Intriguing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20703921)

>I wonder why the parent got modded as flamebait.

I wonder too. I thought it was a valid question.

Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690215)

Now, until they come up with a way to use my Wii to fold proteins (and Dr. Baker has a great lab doing that here at the UW), I'll just use it to play Wii Sims instead.

On a processor level, I must admit the literal hardware of the PS3 is vastly more suited for the calculations involved in folding proteins, so it might be a while, even if there are many more Wii systems being sold.

FUCK ISREAL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20690355)

ISREAL SUCKS
I HATE ISREAL
LET'S BOMB ALL OF THE MIDDLE EAST INCLUDING CHINA AND MAKE AMERICA NUMBER 1.

ALSO CANUCKS WOULD LOSE A WAR AGAINST THE U.S..

Haters suck, George W. Bush IS THE MAN!!!!

Not trolling by the way. Mod this Interesting.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (3, Insightful)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690409)

Now, until they come up with a way to use my Wii to fold proteins (and Dr. Baker has a great lab doing that here at the UW), I'll just use it to play Wii Sims instead.


On a processor level, I must admit the literal hardware of the PS3 is vastly more suited for the calculations involved in folding proteins, so it might be a while, even if there are many more Wii systems being sold.



Agreed. Since the Wii was actually designed to be left on 24/7 I think it would be a great candidate despite being a slower machine.


Not to discredit what Sony has done however. In a year of Stupid decisions, this is one of the shinning examples of a good idea that floated to the top. I hope they encourage its' use by setting milestones (100 WU, 500 WU, 1000 WU etc...) and offer Trophys in Home.


I've only had a PS3 for about 1 month and I keep it on pretty consistantly to fold. About once a week I give it "the night off" (since that system fan is spinning constantly). Since I noticed the Background downloads still work while folding I got to thinking that even when using the system Folding could take please (even at a slower rate). I have a 60 gig PS3 with the EE chip. When playing a PS2 game it is using that chip to play the game so the Cell would be practically dormant. Why not let it "background fold" ? How about a DVD, or a BluRay movie? Playing music of the HDD?


I can't imagine anything shy of a PS3 game (and a big one at that) would be running the Cell full tilt, so why not Add a "Folding@Home" option in system settings and let me chose to add it as a background task?

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690479)

Agreed. Since the Wii was actually designed to be left on 24/7 I think it would be a great candidate despite being a slower machine.

Also, many people have their Wii hardwired into their cable modem, and have bought additional flash cards, but the main problem is the chip capabilities.

I think the Cell processor is more capable at handling higher vector math, IMHO.

Mind you, even so, I never bought a PS3, I bought a Wii. Not because it is more powerful, but because it's fun.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

dch24 (904899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690501)

I can't imagine anything shy of a PS3 game (and a big one at that) would be running the Cell full tilt, so why not Add a "Folding@Home" option in system settings and let me chose to add it as a background task?
The PS3 runs Linux, so it would be technically possible. But even though Sony did a Good Thing(tm) and added FAH for idle time, they're not going to go to the effort to test FAH in each game.

The best way to get FAH would be to add the Sony FAHrootkit(r) in the Sonygcc that everyone is forced to use to develop games for the PS3. Developers would be testing with a dummy FAH running in the background and not even know it. Work Units by stealth.

Naturally, they couldn't put that in the Preferences menu...

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20698893)

The PS3 runs Linux, so it would be technically possible.
Oh, please. The PS3 does NOT running Linux. You can install Linux, but then you have the choice of running Linux or the Game OS. You can't run any PS3 games under Linux.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690515)

The PS3 apparently runs a sustained 200W running folding @ home. That's 140kWh per month. Assuming a 0.12 kWh rate, you'll be paying ~$200 per year in electricity for folding at home. .12 cents isn't high; its much higher in some places (Alaska, California, New York,...), and lower in others like most of Canada, Tenessee, Iowa, etc...)

But running with a .12 kWh, and assuming the "33,000 CPUs" for PS3s means indiviual PS3s, then that's over $7 million in 'donated' electricity PS3's are using for this project.

Now whether $200 represents a good value on the amount of science that's getting done with it is your call to make. Its a good cause, and I have no issue with it.

But for myself, I think there's more efficient/productive uses for the money. Plus I prefer to donate directly and get a tax deduction.

And it irks me that these projects are marketed as using the idle time of your console as if it were free. $100 - $500 a year to participate, depending on power rates where you live is a significant "hidden" cost.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690739)

Electricity in BC and WA is around 7 cents a kWh actually. So it's cheaper for us.

If you're already leaving it on anyway ...

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692599)

Electricity in BC and WA is around 7 cents a kWh actually. So it's cheaper for us.

Yeah, only ~$120.00 per year. Cheaper, sure, but you could have bought a couple games each year with that money instead. Or over a few years, it would be enough money to buy a PS4 when it comes out... and most people pay a hell of a lot more than 7 cents.

If you're already leaving it on anyway ...

A decent system should go into standby, or at least a low power mode. Of couse the PS3 doesn't. Even idle the PS3 uses 177Wh. There is simply no good reason for it to be on all the time, unless you like paying for 100x as much electricity as you need or need an overpriced space heater.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20695389)

Or unless you WANT to donate it's time and a bit of money via electricity to F@H.

It's not like anyone is being coerced or forced to do this you know.

Don't want to spend that bit of money or don't care about F@H? Turn it off. I fail to see the issue.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698191)

Or unless you WANT to donate it's time and a bit of money via electricity to F@H.

Exactly. But don't you think it ought to be clear that you are doing that?

I have NO ISSUE with F@H's goals. I have no issue with people who WANT to donate $100 - $500 worth of electricity to them. I applaud them.

The -issue- here, is that most people contributing have no idea its costing them, on average $200+ per year.

To their credit, buried at the bottom of their FAQ they do have an (outdated) article that talks about Pentium's, costing .36 cents a day. (They don't do the math and give you the $131 figure per year though.) And they suggest turning off the monitor because it uses more power than the computer; which was true in the era of CRTs and Pentium's. But not true in the era of power hungry pentium 4's with LCDs. And the PS3 uses more juice than most Pentium 4's.

So between it's tone of downplaying the cost, and the fact that its significantly out of date it substantially misrepresents the cost. A PS3 in california could easily run $300 per year.

Note also that electrical rates are often on a sliding scale. The first X are at one price, the next X are at another higher price, etc. F@H uses enough power that it may easily bump you up into the next rate tier.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20699331)

Ehh, still don't see it as a problem. Nice that they DO offer some information like that, but really, lets not dumb down the layman anymore than they already are.

It should really be common sense that using something that requires electricity...wait for it...costs money for the electricity being used.

I mean, should all lightbulbs be stamped with a warning that if they use it it will cost X dollars to do so in electricity?

Just sayin ;)

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20700257)

It should really be common sense that using something that requires electricity...wait for it...costs money for the electricity being used.

Fair enough. But considering how MUCH electricity is being used, especially considering that its far in excess of what most people would think, I think it should be better disclosed.

I mean, should all lightbulbs be stamped with a warning that if they use it it will cost X dollars to do so in electricity?

Yes. Absolutely.

Nothing would motivate people to switch to CFL's faster than if right on the label the 60W incandescent said that:

1 year of continuous operation would cost:

$50.00 @ .10/kWh and $100.00 @ .20/kWh

and the CFLs beside it were labeled:

$11.00 @ .10kWh and $22.00 @ .20/kWh

I think the information would be of interest to people buying HDTV's, computers, and other items that spend a lot of time on.

While its not 'interesting' or 'noteworthy' that electrical devices use electricity; it is interesting to know how much, and what it will actually cost, especially when its far beyond what most people would imagine.

Fridges and other major appliances already have large labels disclosing electrical usage; consumers want to know this because they know these devices are on all the time and use a lot of electricity.

Given that the PS3 uses more electricity than their fridge (several times as much) and users are being encouraged to leave it on 24x7; don't you think consumers ought to be informed? Most of them operate under the assumption that when they aren't playing games its negligable - about on par with what their VCR consumes to display the time. They really don't realize F@H is running their PS3 at maximum load 24x7 consuming a boatload of power to do that.

Given F@H is a charity, they really have a moral obligation to fully disclose the cost of participating; especially when the magnitude of the cost is non-obvious. Or worse, in the case of kids, teens, and mothers-basement-dwelling-slashdotters installing it, the cost is not even borne by the person subscribing.

They don't pay the electrical bill, they don't even see it, and since the bill arrives as an arbitrary lump sum, there is no real way for the person paying the bill to know that their kids F@H is costing them 20 bucks a month, assuming they even know what F@H is, or that they have it.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (4, Informative)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690825)

It's only wasted power if you don't want the heat. If you live in a cold climate you've got yourself a perfect small heater with a COP of 1. So your thermostat-controlled heater won't need to work quite as hard to maintain your room at the target temperature, so you break even energy-wise and effectively get your F@H flops for free.

Of course if you're in a hot climate and want to cool the room, well the opposite is true. You're wasting more power (200W to do the F@H work, and 200W/COP for the A/C unit to shift the heat out of your room).

Natural gas is cheap (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691981)

It's only wasted power if you don't want the heat. If you live in a cold climate you've got yourself a perfect small heater with a COP of 1.
In some areas, natural gas is so cheap that an entry-level natural gas furnace is more efficient in joules per dollar than even a 100% efficient electric heater. This happens in part because gas distributed to customers is burned in the house, while gas burned at an electric power plant suffers transmission losses over long-distance power lines.

The Costs of Folding@Home... (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20695763)

The PS3 apparently runs a sustained 200W running folding @ home. That's 140kWh per month. Assuming a 0.12 kWh rate, you'll be paying ~$200 per year in electricity for folding at home. .12 cents isn't high; its much higher in some places (Alaska, California, New York,...), and lower in others like most of Canada, Tenessee, Iowa, etc...) But running with a .12 kWh, and assuming the "33,000 CPUs" for PS3s means indiviual PS3s, then that's over $7 million in 'donated' electricity PS3's are using for this project.

Now whether $200 represents a good value on the amount of science that's getting done with it is your call to make. Its a good cause, and I have no issue with it.

But for myself, I think there's more efficient/productive uses for the money. Plus I prefer to donate directly and get a tax deduction.

And it irks me that these projects are marketed as using the idle time of your console as if it were free. $100 - $500 a year to participate, depending on power rates where you live is a significant "hidden" cost.

The Folding@Home FAQ does mention it runs the PS3 at 200w while running, but thank you for itemizing what that actually means, so people better understand their contribution. However even if you didn't look it up I don't suppose anyone thought it ran on our belief in Faeries. Also if someone hooked their PS3 up to an alternate fuel source (wind, solar, etc...), you can bet they are in the minority.

So part of the question is "should we work to save humanity, or the environment"? I consciously chose humanity as we should outlive this planet anyway. Even if we don't use up all the resources, or over pollute it at our rate of reproduction we will overcrowd it in a few hundred years anyway, and need to leave.

Re:The Costs of Folding@Home... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698555)

However even if you didn't look it up I don't suppose anyone thought it ran on our belief in Faeries.

Most people just don't think about it at all.

And if they do, they assume its absurdly cheap; "it must be far less than the fridge or stove" they might say, for example.

But that's not true, an even halfway modern energy star fridge spends 90%+ of its time idle; and the stove, which might peak at 400W+, also spends over 90%+ of its time drawing just enough power to run a clock. The PS3 uses more electricity by far than either of those appliances. The only appliance that comes halfway close to a PS3 running F@H is an air conditioner -- and even those spend a good part of the day, and a significant part of the year idle.

So part of the question is "should we work to save humanity, or the environment"?

I think the bigger question is: "Is $200/year towards F@H better spent than $200 towards the Cancer foundatation, or the ACLU, the Red Cross, or whatever your favorite charity is... if you think it is, then fine. But if you haven't asked the question because you assumed the cost was negligible then you really should. F@H shouldn't be receiving your donations simply because you erroneously thought it didn't cost anything.

Re:The Costs of Folding@Home... (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698791)

I think the bigger question is: "Is $200/year towards F@H better spent than $200 towards the Cancer foundatation, or the ACLU, the Red Cross, or whatever your favorite charity is... if you think it is, then fine. But if you haven't asked the question because you assumed the cost was negligible then you really should. F@H shouldn't be receiving your donations simply because you erroneously thought it didn't cost anything.

An excellent point. I personally consider F@H a "targeted donation". I know how much it costs (approximately) and I know what the money is being used for specifically, so it is something I want to support. It's kinda like deciding to donate to the SPCA [spca.com] but instead of giving them a $200 check, you give them $200 worth of dog food, Cat litter and pet treats. Both are helping equally, but you are deciding where the donation goes.

Moore's law and power consumption (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 6 years ago | (#20701069)

Ok, what if Sony comes out with a cooler running unit with more processing power. At what point to you think that this is a worthwhile expenditure. Electricity here in Idaho is below 6 cents kwh. Alzheimer's runs in my wife's family. Do you even know how bad it's going to hurt if she comes down with Alzheimer's?

I leave my Desk AND my laptop running 24/7. The laptop's been at it for almost 3 years. The desktop longer. I've been eyeballing a new CPU/Mobo/Radeon GPU card combo just for its folding capabilities. They're doing stuff on our PC's that wouldn't get done otherwise.

But there's another reason to participate. By joining the effort, it creates a demand for better folding software. The first folding software was Windows only. Slashdot's participation helped get the Linux client done. So, there's a virtuous circle to joining; the more that join, the more that can join. Hopefully, someday soon, everybody's idle cycles will be 'recycled'.

Re:Moore's law and power consumption (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20702767)

At what point to you think that this is a worthwhile expenditure.

This isn't really about what I think is worthwhile. Everyone gets to choose for themselves which charities they feel are most worthwhile donating to, and how much they wish to donate to them.

If you wish to donate $120.00/year in support of Alzheimer's research, and you think F@H is the best Alzheimer's related charity to donate that money too, that is entirely your perogative. While I may disagree that its the best use of $120, even for Alzheimer's, its your money, your charity, and your choice.

I merely think F@H is morally responsible for ensuring people are actually *aware* that they are donating $120/year or $250 or $500/year a year when they sign up! They are profiting on the ignorance of the very people that contribute. Most people don't realize what F@H is costing them; they assume its neglible. Why isn't F@H upfront about the cost?!

If its a good cause (and it is), people (like yourself) will still contribute. Allowing people to contribute knowing full well most the "hidden" electrical cost is surprisingly high is unethical.

Or even worse, what about a charity that lets 12 year old gamers effectively commit to donating $10-$40/month to Alzheimer's research, and have the donation amount get invisibly tacked onto their parents electrical bill with no disclosure whatsoever.

That's another more cynical way of looking at F@H.

A charity like F@H should be above such criticism, and it should take steps to be as absolutely frank and upfront on the discussion of cost as possible.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (2, Funny)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690563)

Well, the hand-gestures involved in folding proteins are rather complex....

(couldn't resist)

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691691)

It'll never happen on a Nintendo console. The company is far too xenophobic.

The 360 has more of a chance, but I doubt MS would let it on their hardware unless it's making them money.

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

Archades54 (925582) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692767)

As opposed to your WII shooting proteins?:P

Re:Sweet! Protein Folding is a great use for PS3s (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698789)

As opposed to your WII shooting proteins?:P

Well, actually, right now it's mostly used to mine for minerals like Bacon and Cake and to grow Skulls and Ghosts on trees while my family plays My Sims on it.

how much science is being accomplished? (4, Interesting)

crayz (1056) | more than 5 years ago | (#20690279)

Their project list [stanford.edu] doesn't seem to have been updated in quite a while. Many of their recent papers [stanford.edu] seem more focused on how to scale and utilize the type of computing cluster they have than they relate to any sort of medical progress

I'm not dismissing the contributions to the study of computer science, but the stated goals of the project are:

The Folding@Home project ("FAH") is dedicated to understanding protein folding, the diseases which result from protein misfolding and aggregation, and novel computational ways to develop new drugs in general. Here, we briefly describe our goals, what we are doing, and some highlights so far.

We feel strongly that a distributed computing project must not just run calculations on millions of PC's, but d.c. projects must produce results, especially in the form of peer reviewed publications, public lectures, and other ways to disseminate the results from FAH to the greater scientific community. Below, we also detail our progress in these areas as well.

Top500 - Blue Gene is about 280 TFlops (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691047)

Of course you can't compare bogomips from a very easily parallelizable application like Folding@Home with Linpak, but the latest Top500 list [top500.org] has the #1 machine, Blue Gene/L at Livermore Labs, at 280 TFlops, and the next two at 101.x TFlops. And Japan's Earth Simulator, which was the top machine a few years ago, has been left in the dust at #20.


If you want to talk about whether Real Science is being done, too many of the top machines are working on various aspects of Weapons of Mass Destruction and therefore aren't publishing a lot of results for the scientific community... For a number of years, the fastest machine was Seti@Home, but their statistics reporting has gotten a lot less useful so it's no longer easy to tell how much CPU is being used to search for signals from little green men, and I think by about 2005 it was no longer on top even ignoring the linpak-vs-bogomips disconnect.

Re:how much science is being accomplished? (1)

Alchemist253 (992849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692881)

Many of their recent papers seem more focused on how to scale and utilize the type of computing cluster they have than they relate to any sort of medical progress


How do you figure? By my count, about two of the most recent twenty publications/conference talks are mainly about the computer architecture. The majority are legitimate chemical physics and biophysics.

Keep in mind that this group, and others like it, don't do any laboratory work. Their research is about "understanding protein folding," not actually developing pharmaceuticals, for which other groups (and companies) are better suited.

As far as I can tell, they are doing exactly what they claim to.

global warming @ home (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20690347)

thanks, guys.

Unsincerely,

The Earth

EULA (4, Interesting)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690489)

I'd be a lot more interested in Folding @Home if their EULA wasn't so damn draconian. When I thought about installing it, I just glanced over the EULA to see if there was anything outrageous in it. There was a section that basically said they could monitor what I'm playing on my PS3 at any time - whether I was running it at that time or not.

Re:EULA (1)

solar_blitz (1088029) | more than 6 years ago | (#20690715)

There was a section that basically said they could monitor what I'm playing on my PS3 at any time - whether I was running it at that time or not.
Unless I'm playing something like DoA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball or Tokimeki Memorial [wikipedia.org], I wouldn't be too worried.

Re:EULA (2, Interesting)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691235)

I don't think anybody needs to know what games I'm playing or how much time I spend playing them. Of course, I pay cash for groceries, don't use the discount cards they give and never use credit cards... I'm silly about my privacy that way.

Re:EULA (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691735)

That's not privacy, it's just good common sense. You should be hidden from the world. A non-entity. It's the only sane choice.

Re:EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691827)

You're afraid of someone knowing when you buy GROCERIES?! Whatever in the world for?

Re:EULA (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692011)

Of course, I pay cash for groceries
What do you do when buying something that isn't sold within cycling distance of your home? Ordinarily, people would use debit cards for that, but in some ways, a debit card is just as traceable as a credit card.

and never use credit cards
If you have no credit history, you might find it hard to buy a house or a car or even qualify for some types of employment. Do you find it feasible to pay cash for a house without invoking suspicions of money laundering?

Re:EULA (1)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692321)

Oh, I have credit cards and a credit history, I just choose not to use the cards. My mortgage payments and (before the car was paid off) car payments were direct withdraws from the bank.

Re:EULA (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20708377)

It's pretty dumb to open a line of credit for buying groceries, but what's keeping you from getting a check card? All the convenience and none of the stupidity of buying groceries on credit.

Re:EULA (2, Informative)

eosp (885380) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692265)

Hint on the grocery discount thing: ask for a new card ("oh, I just moved here") then just toss the card on the way out. Or just give it back after they scan it.

Re:EULA (1)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692581)

They usually have courtesy cards that the clerks use anyway. Somehow my roommate got one that is not connected to him in any way. Usually they ask for a driver's license with a current address, etc.

Games category??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20690571)

Whoever put it there has mighty little knowledge of this science project.

Barrier? (5, Insightful)

UNFAIRMAN (470301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691151)

Dear Slashdot editors,
Its a milestone not a barrier. The 640k memory limit on PCs was a barrier. Going faster than the speed of sound was a barrier. A barrier requires technical challenges to be met to move beyond a specific maximum point. A milestone is significant only in artificial numeric terms, such as reaching a percentage of a goal, or achieving a number of ops per sec that happens to be divisible by 2^10.

Its still quite newsworthy and very cool, but it isn't a broken barrier.

Re:Barrier? (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691859)

A barrier requires technical challenges to be met to move beyond a specific maximum point.

They do have a marketing challenge though, with all those PS3 sitting in the....

Barrier! (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#20693505)

They did it on a PS3. If they had done it on a system which is actually deployed across many homes, then you could downgrade it to a milestone. (If they had done it on XBox360, maybe it wouldn't be a milestone so much as an Achievement. If they had done it on the Wii... just skip the press release, we get the idea already, the entire world owns Wiis.)

Systems issues (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691361)

Has anyone else had systems issues with this? When I run the program, a number of times, my computer has frozen up and I had to do a hard reboot. I tried to ignore it but after a number of months of that garbage, I've uninstalled it.

My theory was that perhaps they're doing some kind of low level hardware calls my system doesn't like. Anybody else seen this on an HP laptop (or any other hardware)?

Tried running diagnostics for your hot laptop? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692027)

When I run the program, a number of times, my computer has frozen up and I had to do a hard reboot.
Have you tried running memtest86 or CPU temperature diagnostics?

My theory was that perhaps they're doing some kind of low level hardware calls my system doesn't like.
Like actually using the CPU to its full capacity? I've read that some systems don't like that because they have poor cooling or defective parts.

Anybody else seen this on an HP laptop (or any other hardware)?
Laptops especially have cooling issues.

Re:Tried running diagnostics for your hot laptop? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20699679)

No, I haven't tried running those diagnostics. memtest86 and CPU temperature diagnostic? I'll take a look for them. Thanks!

My theory was that perhaps they're doing some kind of low level hardware calls my system doesn't like.

Like actually using the CPU to its full capacity? I've read that some systems don't like that because they have poor cooling or defective parts.
No, I actually thought they might be doing something screwy like bypassing the HAL to make their processing faster, or something really funky like that. But my theory is based on nothing but the fact that the folks at Stanford are probably pretty smart and are likely to try to grab as many cycles as they can, and making low-level calls would probably accomplish that. Your theory is probably the correct one -- especially since my laptop is fairly old (~2 years).

Thanks again.

Re:Systems issues (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20692031)

Try the forums. FAH's 'core' actually runs completely in assembly, this will push your system to the limit, shouldn't crash it out though. If you're blocking air vents while running FAH, you will have problems. Maybe you're overheating. Try the forums though http://forum.folding-community.org/ [folding-community.org]

Re:Systems issues (1)

iTowelie (1118013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20699719)

Oh God.. I can understand your sig :( I am not a nerd!

Re:Systems issues (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20700317)

I believe being motivated enough to find a binary translator to decipher a series of binary numbers is, in fact the definition of a nerd :)

You get uber-nerd points if you didn't need a translator.

Tagging? -- Offtopic (1)

carterhawk001 (681941) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692497)

this is way off topic, but ive been curious: quite often, a story will have tags on it that are almost nonsensical, and it seems unlikely that they even show up unless a lot of people are tagging the story with the same weird tags. Now how are people doing this? is there some group out there gaming the system or what?

Re:Tagging? -- Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20692729)

My best guess is the tags go on early, so when only 10 people have tagged the story and one is off-the-wall, it shows up. Many of the people who see it like it and repeat the tag, and it keeps getting enough votes to show up.

Milestone or barrier, doesn't really matter... (3, Interesting)

Eventual Karma (1051894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20693071)

I am about to go back into the nursing home where my father lays dying of late stage Lewy Body Dementia, another form of Alzheimer's. The doctor says he has until midnight. As someone who has watched a healthy old man turn slowly into an unresponsive shell, and watched a previously loving family split over how he is to be cared for, and all the horrors that go along with that, I offer thanks to you and all the others that fold when you can (I've been doing so for quite a while now). Life is indeed not always fair and if you could spare a few cycles whether it be on your PS3 or your PC, or whatever else it runs on, I suggest the possible pros outweigh whatever cons you might come up with. If folding does lead to cures, vaccines or even more understanding, it's a good thing, believe me. It's too late for my old man but it might be in time for you, or me, or someone you know. Bring on the next barrier (or milestone).

Cheers. And may yours be the cycle that matters. :)

Re:Milestone or barrier, doesn't really matter... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20693283)

> Life is indeed not always fair

It only _appears_ that way because you don't have all the facts.

Karma is Divine Justice.

Re:Milestone or barrier, doesn't really matter... (1)

Duffy13 (1135411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20695973)

Karma is a myth perpetrated by those who need divine justice but refuse to believe in god(s), it is equally ludicrous. On a time line approaching infinity all actions and counter-actions approach equilibrium, unfortunately the avg. human life span is but a finite time line.

Re:Milestone or barrier, doesn't really matter... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20704759)

Karma and God are not mutually exclusive. An understanding of both are needed if one wants to gain and apply true knowledge.

Fortunately the soul life span is infinite, and has as many finite human life spans as it needs to grow.

--
My karma ran over your dogma.

Ummm... (1)

NoobHunter (1090113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20695957)

Now...not to knock on the door of progress or achievements but you're telling me that the greatest news the PS3 has under it's belt is that it reached a milestone in Distributesd Computing. Me? If that's all a 600$ console can do well right now...I'd feel ripped off!

More Accurate? (1)

SoapDish (971052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20696711)

Second, we made several improvements to the application (v 1.2) that helped make the computations more accurate...


More accurate or more precise? I think this is a pretty important difference. If I'd been running F@H for a while, I'd be upset to find out it was lacking accuracy; that's a lot of wasted (or less valuable than they could be) cycles I'd paid for.

Re:More Accurate? (1)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698845)

More accurate.
I'm pretty sure the folding algorithms are processor intensive because they are monte carlo simulations. These are very precise and very inaccurate.

I'm guessing they're monte carlo because 1. I can't imagine a better way to simulate macro-molecular interactions and 2. because it's the only reason why the giggling picture would be necessary to perform the simulation.

Active CPU's (2, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20698483)

For the cell, they took the # of PS3's and multiplied it by 8 to get # of active CPU's. Shouldn't they have multiplied by 6, since one isn't active and one is reserved?

ps3 has no games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20700429)

enjoy your $599

Is the problem unsolvable? (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20708525)

Is this an unsolvable problem? Solving this problem may be equal to predicting the weather 30 days in advance. This problem seems to mimic other problems. It may be that these problems are unsolvable no matter how much energy and data you use. The nightmare to this is that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are all three body systems that may only be solvable with a quantum computer. I have similar arguments with the debate on which came first DNA RNA or proteins. I believe that life needs all three of these to be considered as a form of life, an abstract three body system that is full of infinite change that can evolve. It may be that all other systems never made it past the big bang.
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