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PS3 firmware update 4.30 to end Folding@home involvement

Joint decision arrived at with Standford U to cease participation in project

Sony has decided to curtail its involvement with the Folding@home project with the next PS3 firmware update, 4.30.

The decision was arrived at after discussions with the project's originator, Stanford University. Over 100 million hours of PS3 computer time have been contributed to the study since participation began in 2007 but the project's leaders say that the machine has contributed in other ways, too.

"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," said research lead Vijay Pande in a post on the EU PlayStation blog.

"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."

Folding@home was designed to contribute to the highly computer intensive study of protein folding in the human body, problems with which can lead to conditions such as Alzheimers, Parkinson's and cancer. By distributing small chunks of analysis work to CPUs and GPUs around the world, the project was able to process the vast swathes of data much more quickly.

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Dan Pearson