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Folding@home Petaflop Barrier Crossed

Noam Rimon's Avatar + Posted by Noam Rimon on Sep 19, 2007 // Sr. Development Manager SCEA R&D

Folding@home Update
The momentum and excitement for the Folding@home project continues. This time it’s something that the Folding community and the computer science field as a whole have been anxiously awaiting — the crossing of a milestone known as a petaflop.

A petaflop equals one quadrillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS). If you’d like to imagine this enormous computation capacity, think about calculating a tip on a restaurant bill, now do that for 75,000 different bills, now do that every second, and lastly, imagine everybody on the planet is doing those calculations at the same second- this is a petaflop calculation. Now you see why I say say enormous…

So how did we get to a petaflop and what caused it to happen now? There are a few factors that together increased the total computational power of the Folding@home network. First, is the increased participation from the Folding community. 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.

What does this mean to the computer science field? The petaflop by itself is just a number, but in the past was only thought of as something that could be done on a supercomputer or other dedicated hardware which cost millions and millions of dollars. Now we’ve shown that a distributed network featuring a videogame console can reach the same capacity as a supercomputer. On a different level we see a huge contribution to the specific research that Folding@home is conducting, which is understanding the cause of serious diseases. Just think about how long it would take if such a network of computers didn’t exist! According to Stanford, the Folding@home network is helping them conduct research that typically would not have been possible for another 10 years.

What’s next? 2 petaflops? Maybe. Researchers at Stanford are saying that the accuracy can be increased even further to crank even more work out of each PS3. For now, I just feel proud that PS3 owners are making such a great contribution to the network and allowing it to sustain such capacity, it makes all our efforts worthwhile.

Here is a snapshot of statistics as reported from Stanford’s website at the time of this post:

foldingstats.png

//Add Your Own

69 Comments

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1

+ XxBigP123xX on September 19th, 2007 at 8:17 pm said:

yeah but what are you actually doing with this data? i mean we fold all night and what do we get? a higher energy bill?


2

+ FoxKit on September 19th, 2007 at 8:23 pm said:

I hope my PS3 is the one that cures cancer. ^-^p
Wonder what my Home trophy for that will be…


3

+ gamesblow on September 19th, 2007 at 8:25 pm said:

Your home trophy hahahahahahahahahahahahah! Man, that’s good. That’s good.

Your home trophy will look like whatever your heart desires, because your imagination is all home is.


4

+ terminatorvsmtrx on September 19th, 2007 at 8:25 pm said:

this is a pretty impressive accomplishment… but have u guys actually done anything with the folding.. do we understand nething better? or like #1 says are we wasting energy??


5

+ h3ro on September 19th, 2007 at 8:28 pm said:

How about using all the giga tera flops to make some games too huh?


6

+ gamesblow on September 19th, 2007 at 8:33 pm said:

How about, maybe, you stop trying to be the “BONO” of the entertainment world and instead of saving lives, save your damn company and make some decent announcments that we don’t have to wait 10 years for and “EXCLUSIVES” at that.

Leave the soul searching, saving up to Bono and all them PETA snorks. We just wanna play games, Sony. Not save the world. If we wanted to do that, we’d just have taken the 600 bucks we sunk into you and gave it to charity… Well, at this point you all are a charity, cause you need all the help you can get.


7

+ xplosneer on September 19th, 2007 at 8:34 pm said:

So basically the PS3’s conbined so far are four times as powerful as the largest supercomputer(250 some teraflops)


8

+ terminatorvsmtrx on September 19th, 2007 at 8:36 pm said:

i usually defend sony to the death but im gunna hafta agree with gamesblow this time around… i fold all the time.. but i bought the system for games… heavenly sword is sick but i can beat it on my lunch break.. we need games to keep us busy


9

+ Kratos_ate_Snake on September 19th, 2007 at 8:45 pm said:

ROTFLOL

it feels like all of the sudden everyone is realizing that they have been running F@H non stop for no real personal gain…HAHAHA Classic.


10

+ Cody_L on September 19th, 2007 at 8:59 pm said:

I’m extremely proud of us PS owners who ran this and helped push it pass the petaflop milestone.


11

+ SeanScythe on September 19th, 2007 at 9:11 pm said:

this is a great achivement but it’s coming at a bad time. Imagine someone just told you that you was not acepted into that great college you was hoping for then all of a sudden someone burst out saying hey the Icecream truck is coming!

Wouldn’t you just want to smack the hell out of that guy? I mean he knows your pissed and upset but guess what he’s not caring one dame bit about how you fell he is more worried about that stupid truck playing that damn song as it drives closer.


12

+ dbarrade on September 19th, 2007 at 9:13 pm said:

I know the Folding @ home project is very noble, but how about farming out the PS3’s to render CG movies… putting each person’s PSN ID in the credits?

Congratulations on so many flops!


13

+ BrOnXbOmBr21 on September 19th, 2007 at 9:16 pm said:

Well, I just finished my 434th work unit (I’m on the PlayStation.com Forums Team, #55265). Whenever I’m not using my PS3 for something (games, movies, music, etc.), it’s folding proteins, and it has been doing that since March 23, when I first installed F@H. Say what you will, but frankly, I’m proud to be making a contribution to society…and since I’m at college, I’m not the one paying the electric bill :)


14

+ nabokovfan87 on September 19th, 2007 at 9:19 pm said:

FIRST OFF:

folding@home is important, please keep its value in mind. it isnt about who has more flops or active cpus or anything like that, it is about the cause. keep the cause in mind not the reward.

as for the blog, what the hell guys. rumble just got announced, we dont care about anything but that. we want to know about price drops on old hardware vs new coming in and when. we want to know about why home was delayed, and when the beta will be.

-nabokovfan87


15

+ trafony on September 19th, 2007 at 9:31 pm said:

I agree that Sony should have kicked this first year off with much better games, but I don’t think that’s any reason to bash folding@home. Sony isn’t sitting around working on folding@home instead of making games, it’s the people at Stanford working on it. I don’t see how anyone sees reason to complain about this post. It’s great news that the project is working, it’s just crappy news that Sony isn’t working on the games as hard as Stanford is working on research.


16

+ gamesblow on September 19th, 2007 at 9:32 pm said:

I’m deleting Folding at home because of TGS and Sony’s lies. I’ll DL it again when Sony starts flying right. Who’s with me?


17

+ trafony on September 19th, 2007 at 9:33 pm said:

Oh that’s responsible, Sony isn’t making games so screw the cancer patients. You’re really sticking to the man.


18

+ Laughed on September 19th, 2007 at 9:38 pm said:

You lost me on that one too gb. lol. And trafony makes a good point. I won’t apologize for this knee jerk reaction though. We need to let owners know whats going on. In all mrkets Folding@home and otherwise. So you’ll see these posts in every blog, until Sony gets so sick of it they actually do something for the community and not their stockholders. After all, they are already losing them, they can’t really afford to lose us as well.


19

+ matn on September 19th, 2007 at 9:41 pm said:

I just wanted to say, congratulations. This work really does pay off. It’s also proving a point, like the writer of this article stated, the power of the PlayStation 3 combined, can make a Supercomputer out of itself.

Folding Team: 56711


20

+ Dew87 on September 19th, 2007 at 9:45 pm said:

I don’t pretend to understand all these technical jargon, but somehow I know it is incredible. I just hope the F@H project is making a positive impact towards science and finding a cure to all these diseases. It’s a great initiative, and thank you Sony for supporting it through the PS3.

I’m really shocked to read some of the comments above. I didn’t know so many Microsoft fanboys visited this blog. Incredible indeed.


21

+ foolio_67 on September 19th, 2007 at 9:48 pm said:

Wow that’s a ton of calculations.


22

+ darktorns on September 19th, 2007 at 9:52 pm said:

guys, it takes time to get something all of these calculations, im pretty sure few years from now, we’ll hear something with the help of this.. like maybe better medicine or understanding how to treat stuff.

Give it time….. nothing happens overnight.


23

+ tearsofash on September 19th, 2007 at 10:23 pm said:

With the advancements of the PS3 client as well as the GPU client, they’ll probably hit 2 petaflops in no time. I don’t remember what, but pretty soon the GPU client will be just as a heavy-hitter as the PS3.


24

+ gardea on September 19th, 2007 at 10:29 pm said:

Wow, PlayStation 3 is really powerful.

How long has folding@home been out? For PCs and PS3?

It’s also good that people are taking an interest in helping to cure diseases.


25

+ Reddsk on September 19th, 2007 at 11:21 pm said:

Wow way to go everyone. Mention it at TGS… =P


26

+ Stef_Nighthawk on September 19th, 2007 at 11:25 pm said:

It’s been a long time since another console spread rumours of also wanting a piece of the Folding@home cake.
Guess a certain kind of console still can’t be left on (@ full computing) for several days.


27

+ Darsh on September 19th, 2007 at 11:27 pm said:

I’m glad something is benefiting from the lack of content on the system. =)

Sarcasm aside, good stuff. Grats.


28

+ IceCold on September 19th, 2007 at 11:47 pm said:

bigp123 if that is the case, then don’t fold. Save your couple dollars a month. If you are that streched for money, maybe you should not have purchased the ps3 in the first place.

Secondly, it would be nice to know in more detail how they use the data.


29

+ nekon on September 20th, 2007 at 12:36 am said:

Great job! PS3Forums.com team #54376 is currently ranked 56th! We’ll be in the top 50 teams worldwide in about 2.5 weeks! This is a great accomplishment everyone, keep up the hard work! Thank you Sony for giving us the opportunity to participate in F@H.


30

+ Stoffinator on September 20th, 2007 at 1:04 am said:

I’m a big folder myself, got over 300 with just one machine.


31

+ Flanders on September 20th, 2007 at 2:30 am said:

I stopped folding awhile back when the thing would never save the strain I was currently working on properly. I would get up to 70-80% done, exit and save and the next time I would start up it would download a completely new strain and start me off at 0% again. Why bother?


32

+ Laughed on September 20th, 2007 at 2:33 am said:

Thats a reflection of something being wrong with your system. Did you update to v1.2? That might help.


33

+ TonyNibbles on September 20th, 2007 at 2:33 am said:

Imagine the Carbon Footprint of Folding@Home…

Think about setting fire to a tree. Now set fire to 75,000 different trees every second, and lastly, imagine everybody on the entire planet is burning 75,000 different trees in the same second- this is a petaflop calculation.

Well – not quite but that’s gotta be some serious energy use seeing as PS3 accounts for 80% of the processing power and is by no means the most energy efficient machine on that list (not even taking in to account LCD power consumption).


34

+ orbio234 on September 20th, 2007 at 2:34 am said:

wow…its hard sometime to make a decision. i’ve done my folding home for the day…i have played two games from the psn store…i have played some heavenly sword and now before bedtime its time to watch the walt disney blu ray exclusive ..apocalypto.its amazing…if you own a ps3 you like me probably enjoy the bonus of watching movies like this in hd while all around us people are screaming i am a 360 fan and i hate ps3 like hell and i am going to go on a ps3 blog and whine…and cry….and complain…meanwhile those of us who know how to delay even more pleasure enjoy what we now have..my sister just passed away from cancer so folding home seems like i way of keeping her spirit alive.


35

+ FoxKit on September 20th, 2007 at 2:37 am said:

And to all of you out there whining about what -you- get out of f@h, you get nothing. Nada. Zip.
If you have Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, or Huntington’s- you’re working to combat your illness. However, If you don’t fold because you are a perfectly healthy (and selfish) individual, then no one cares. So shut up about it, alright?


36

+ Flanders on September 20th, 2007 at 2:54 am said:

@Laughed…..yup, it’s running the 1.2 client. Darn thing usually has issues starting up downloading the current work unit, and then most of the time just downloads a new one and starts me over at 0%. I assumed it was some type of folding server issue.

Because of these problems, I don’t bother folding much anymore.


37

+ Ghostm on September 20th, 2007 at 3:11 am said:

That’s great an all…but when will I start to get some good games for my $670 console?


38

+ LordOfRuin on September 20th, 2007 at 6:28 am said:

On the plus side, I’m impressed with the petaflop barrier being swept aside like this. How exciting!!! Perhaps with the work my PS3 is doing, whenever I actually leave it on F@H, I’ll live longer and be able to enjoy PS4, 5, all the way to Playstation 15. That assumes a new version roughly every five to seven years of course. Oh wow, by then, it may well have petaflop capability on a chip. Or maybe the units will use distributed computing to play. A few cycles saved on one unit helps another strugling unit elsewhere.

Anyway, way to go to those who care!


39

+ togenshi on September 20th, 2007 at 6:42 am said:

*Sigh* this is quite pathetic, flaming over something that would probably extend my life in the not so distant future….oh well, there are selfish little bastards in this world that are too lazy to look up the website for themselves to see what F@H is doing…

FAQ–> http://folding.stanford.edu/FAQ-diseases.html

The results appear the same rate as Sony releasing anything good on PSN/firmware, but when it does, its worth the effort/wait.

Keep in mind that every working unit only works out a few microseconds, if that. By the way, alot of games that are being released are 3rd party so don’t complain to Sony(though feel free about ingame XMB). Your forgetting that the ps3 is totally different from whatever architecture the programmers are used to. Not mention many of them needed IBM support. They are pretty much starting from scratch. Not to mention that the code would be checked 10x to ensure no unsigned code can be run.

Btw the ps3 uses 200-250w (half of my computer). So switch off your nightlights and leave your ps3 on F@H. Atleast, you wouldn’t need to worry about energy bill.

Besides, the only thing 360 can do better than the ps3 is serving as a heater.


40

+ TheTwelve on September 20th, 2007 at 7:36 am said:

(oops…posted this in wrong section. Meant it here)

I haven’t written here in a while so let’s do a run down of all of my thoughts:

1. Folding@Home has always, always, always been a very unique and wonderful idea. It’s clear that Sony has a network of people who search for programs and games that are not only blockbusters but also represent the obscure. The PS3 has given attention to a wonderful cause like it never had before. I’m also thinking of Everyday Shooter, which I believe will blow up the spot, but would have been ignored without Sony.


41

+ 40cal on September 20th, 2007 at 7:57 am said:

F@H is great keep up the good work guys. Mabey just mabey Stanford con find some relief for cancer then I wont have to quit smoking :)


42

+ togenshi on September 20th, 2007 at 8:23 am said:

This isnt really news that Sony should be hiding. PS3 makes 75% of the F@H power yet only make up 10% of total CPUs. Now that seriously kicks ass. Its perfect marketing to showcase the ps3 potential. Cant wait to see what games developers produce in a few years. Probably make current games Commander Keen like. Old, yet still awesome.


43

+ Queso on September 20th, 2007 at 9:24 am said:

well I don’t know about any of you, but i’ve completed over 220 work units
myself.


44

+ ryjo965 on September 20th, 2007 at 9:42 am said:

Believe…


45

+ SpyroLuver88 on September 20th, 2007 at 9:54 am said:

I am proud to be taking part in something like this program. I lost my Grandfather to Cancer last year. If I could help 1 person suffering with this or any other disease I am proud to do it. This is not making any money for Sony yet they were willing to jump on board and help.
I fold almost every night. And while I agree that it’s raising my electric bill I also have to say how much is saving lives worth to you?
I may not be able to just hand money over to a wothy charity…but I can and will participate in this program. And I am proud to see we are making progress in what will surely be a long battle to beat Cancer and other diseases.
I don’t know why some of you cannot put your posts in the appropriate places. All you do is irritate people who would like to talk about what this actual post is about. There is no need to pollute the board with repetetive comments especially when they have no relevance to the current topic. I know this is falling on deaf ears but come on….


46

+ onthestix on September 20th, 2007 at 12:19 pm said:

If you, your mother or father, had been diagnosed with cancer, you would want somebody to fold for you…keep that in mind next time you look at your energy bill….dumb a$$e$$


47

+ mobiletone on September 20th, 2007 at 1:19 pm said:

what a great day, another computer milestone.


48

+ Herby on September 20th, 2007 at 1:43 pm said:

Congrats to all those that participate. Let’s keep on kickin’ some butt. I predict in the next year we will hit 2 petaflops baby.
Join Official Playstation Forums Team #55265.


49

+ MrCamo on September 20th, 2007 at 3:20 pm said:

MY Microsoft loving co-workers are open jawed looking at this post…… Obviosly a cool feature even if it is BORING :)


Noam Rimon's Avatar

50

+ Noam Rimon on September 20th, 2007 at 3:29 pm said:

To answer some of the relevant questions people have brought up, regarding project results: because of PS3 and the increased speed of the F@h network, research that would have taken Stanford University a year to evaluate can now be done in a matter of days. The results that have been tabulated by PS3’s around the world and then sent back to Stanford University simulate real-life experiments that cannot be easily performed experimentally. Stanford University is currently analyzing the data that they have and there definitely appears to be some interesting results. They expect to submit a paper for peer review in the next couple weeks. Once the paper is back from peer review, Stanford University scientists will then be able to talk specifically about the results they’ve been able to achieve. In the meantime, You can learn more about the F@h advancements by visiting the F@h blog written by Stanford scientists:http://folding.typepad.com/news/


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