October 22, 2012
After five years, 15 million users and more than 100 million hours of donated compute time, Sony is ending its participation with Stanford University's Folding@home project. In an official blog entry, Leon Sanders, PlayStation 3 Brand Manager, explained that the app will be retired by Nov. 1, 2012, as part of a firmware update.
When PlayStation 3 consoles first debuted in late 2006, they were about 20 times faster than the typical PCs of the day. The acceleration was owed to a powerful new microprocessor, the Cell Broadband Engine Architecture, or Cell BE for short. (A variant of which would go on to power the world's first petaflop supercomputer.)
PlayStation 3 joined Stanford's Folding@home project in March 2007. The distributed computing project, which launched in 2000, assigns protein folding simulations to idle volunteer computers (mainly PCs and PS3s that have installed the Folding@home software). Protein misfolding is implicated in a range of serious disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and many forms of cancer.
Sony's enlistment in the program created an army of Cell BE processors, all number crunching for a greater good. The impact was dramatic. Six months after teaming with Sony, the Folding@home program was recognized by Guinness World Records as the most powerful distributed computing network in the world. The record was officially set on Sept. 16, 2007, as Folding@home surpassed one petaflop. Then on Sept. 23, PS3 user contribution alone hit the petaflop mark.
According to today's announcement, Stanford was involved in the decision to part ways. Vijay Pande, Folding@home research lead at Stanford University, shared this statement:
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 I'm 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).
The dissolution of the partnership came with little explanation. Is this part of the PlayStation 4 release process? Will said PS4 reestablish support for the protein folding project? As of now, both the release date and the hardware specs for the next-in-line console are still under wraps.
While PlayStations 3s will no longer be contributing to the Folding@home grid, users looking to add their personal computers to the cause can do so here. Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux are all supported.
Researchers from the Suddhananda Engineering and Research Centre in Bhubaneswar, India developed a job scheduling system, which they call Service Level Agreement (SLA) scheduling, that is meant to achieve acceptable methods of resource provisioning similar to that of potential in-house systems. They combined that with an on-demand resource provisioner to ensure utilization optimization of virtual machines.
Experimental scientific HPC applications are continually being moved to the cloud, as covered here in several capacities over the last couple of weeks. Included in that rundown, Co-founder and CEO of CloudSigma Robert Jenkins penned an article for HPC in the Cloud where he discussed the emergence of cloud technologies to supplement research capabilities of big scientific initiatives like CERN and ESA (the European Space Agency)...
When considering moving excess or experimental HPC applications to a cloud environment, there will always be obstacles. Were that not the case, the cost effectiveness of cloud-based HPC would rule the high performance landscape. Jonathan Stewart Ward and Adam Barker of the University of St. Andrews produced an intriguing report on the state of cloud computing, paying a significant amount of attention to the problems facing cloud computing.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/02/2012 | AMD | Developers today are just beginning to explore the potential of heterogeneous computing, but the potential for this new paradigm is huge. This brief article reviews how the technology might impact a range of application development areas, including client experiences and cloud-based data management. As platforms like OpenCL continue to evolve, the benefits of heterogeneous computing will become even more accessible. Use this quick article to jump-start your own thinking on heterogeneous computing.