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08/07/2008 - Press release

PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) helps in understanding the proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s

Press release from Sony

Madrid, 8th of July 2008. Sony Computer Entertainment España (SCEE) has once again demonstrated its support of the scientific world, this time with the PS3GRID project on biomedical research that is being carried out by Researchers at the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research (IMIM-Hospital del Mar) and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona.

The project is attempting to learn how proteins work at the molecular level using the PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) Cell processor. The results will be used in the fight against important diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Simulating the behaviour of microscopic biomolecules is of enormous difficulty when designing algorithms and architecture analysis, even for the most modern computers. Understanding it is necessary for medicine to be able to fight serious diseases. For these simulations, the Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at IMIM-UPF decided to use the power of the PLAYSTATION®3 Cell processor.

The PLAYSTATION®3 Cell processor is the product of research and development efforts of three large firms: Sony, Toshiba and IBM. There will be eight microprocessors working simultaneously, coordinated by a ninth microchip. This is supercomputer technology available to regular consumers, a processor capable of computing at a speed much higher than any conventional PC. The computing capacity of 100 systems (PS3™) will be the equivalent of thousands of conventional computers.

The results obtained in this research are an important base for future study to continue advancing current knowledge about many diseases: “The PS3GRID project is a general computational infrastructure that can be used to study any type of protein. In the project being carried out in collaboration with SCEE, we have focused on proteins related to Alzheimer’s disease,” explains professor Gianni de Fabritiis, the study’s coordinator.

In order to facilitate attaining the data and finding PS3™ owners who wish to collaborate and contribute to scientific developments, the www.ps3grid.net platform was begun at the end of last year. From this page, any user can download the Linux Live operating system and the PS3GRID software in just a few seconds and save it to a 1GB USB flash drive.

Then you only need to load the PS3GRID software in the PLAYSTATION®3 using the USB device where the software is saved. Once installed on your PS3™, the software directly connects your PLAYSTATION®3 system to the PS3GRID server, downloading the scientific calculations that will be done by your PS3™. You don’t have to do anything else, and thanks to the Cell processor, these molecular calculations will be done 16 times faster than on a normal PC. To return to playing games or to use your PLAYSTATION®3 for other activities, just restart the system.

Sony Computer Entertainment España (SCEE) joins this study, providing new PS3™s to the researchers of the PS3GRID project and financing the monitoring of its development and participation in data analysis. “It is truly a pleasure to collaborate on such a prestigious project that has entrusted its research to the power of the PLAYSTATION®3 Cell processor,” says James Armstrong, Senior Vice President for Southern Europe and CEO for Spain and Portugal. “We could not allow this opportunity to contribute to the progress of science in the search for cures to serious diseases to pass us by”.

For more information on the PS3GRID project, consult the official page at www.PS3GRID.net

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