Friday, May 4, 2007

TECH: Xbox 360 "not as useful" as PS3 for Folding@Home

For those of you living under little moss-tufted rocks for the last six months, the MS's Xbox 360 has been battering the living shit out of Sony's PS3, both in terms of sales, range and quality of games, and all round general corporate niceness. But things may be about to change for Sony...

Weak launch titles, coupled with copious amounts of bad Sony PR and syndicated foot-in-mouth syndrome, plus a high retail price (US$499 for the basic 20Gb, and US$599 for the 60Gb), all left Sony looking in a bad way. Of course no console has ever really been able to pull off success in the first six months -even Nintendo's hallowed Wii console has a pretty piss poor line up once you get beyond Warioware, Wii Sports and Zelda.

The one saving grace for Sony, and perhaps what is starting to show a reversal in the trend of Sony-bashing, is the Folding @ Home Project run by Stanford University. With a goal 'to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases' the project involves downloading a bit of software called the Folding @ Home client that, once installed and connected to the web, allows for every single PC to become part of an international hub of computers all frantically processing diseased DNA strands in search for cures to common diseases. (Am I close enough, Vijay?)

Basically, while you're at work, or browsing the web, or even sleeping as you leave your PC on -the software will be decoding algorithms for the big diseases like Alzheimers, Mad Cow (BSE), Parkinsons and Cancer, among a very big list.

Now Sony have managed to enable this potentially life-saving capability for their rather humbled PS3 console, and the team behind the Folding @ Home project have provided comments good enough for a PS3 slogan:

"PS3's are performing aspects of these simulations, and doing so about 20 times faster than a typical PC."

And at what better timing could this possibly have come for the big electronics giant -with sales at a trickle, and shelves filled with unsold PS3 boxes everywhere, Sony are finally having some positive PR for once. (Unless of course it comes out that all this was just a crafty PR stunt for Sony-affiliated power & energy companies to reap in the big bucks, what with the surge in electrical power worldwide as gamers leave their PS3s on 24/7...)

Now this is all good and honourable, but for those out there who care more about online-penis-comparisons, Vijay Pande, creator of the Folding @ Home project as spoken publicly about what role the Xbox 360 could play in all of this:

"Possibly, although the cell processor in the PS3 is much more powerful for our calculations than the CPU in the Xbox 360."

Strike one for the black team. Ouch, that smarts. For big companies like Sony and MS, that is the sound of a very large, very green (and white) e-penis shrivelling back into its helmet.


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