Extra computing power from idle PS3s has helped the capacity of Stanford University's Folding@home project double in the last month.
The project, which aims to further the understanding of how proteins fold in order to limit the development of a number of diseases, was given a boost by the dramatically improved processing power acquired following a system software update made available to PS3 owners last month.
Mass uptake of an application within the update has enabled researchers to utilize the processing power of hundreds of thousands of dormant PlayStation 3 consoles.
"The PS3 turnout has been amazing, greatly exceeding our expectations and allowing us to push our work dramatically forward," said Vijay Pande, associate professor of chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home program lead.
"Thanks to PS3, we have performed simulations in the first few weeks that would normally take us more than a year to calculate. We are now gearing up for new simulations that will continue our current studies of Alzheimer’s and other diseases," he added.
Masayuki Chatani, corporate executive and chief technology officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, praised the efforts made by PS3 users to supprt the project.
"We continue to be thrilled with the ongoing contributions of the PS3 user community in helping the Folding@home program study the causes of many different diseases that afflict our society," he said.
"As we move forward, we are issuing a call to action for all PS3 owners around the world to download the Folding@home application and help this cause. These PS3 fans can also be part of history as the Folding@home distributed computing program inches closer to achieving a petaflop – a measure of computing power that has never before been reached".
Sony has stated that it is aiming to support similar distributed computing projects across various academic fields but has also revealed that it is considering using the distributed model for commercial applications.