According to a report in the British Financial Times newspaper, Sony representatives are exploring options for expanding the use of the PlayStation 3 in commercial endeavors similar to the charitable Folding@Home distributed computing project.
The Folding@Home project is used to aid in calculations relating to the study of protein folding and protein folding diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and cystic fibrosis. It is similar in concept to the popular SETI@home screen saver for PCs which uses idle computer to time to perform complex data calculations, before sending the results to a central resource.
According to the Financial Times report, Sony Computer Entertainment is in discussions with a number of unnamed companies concerning possible commercial applications for other distributed computing projects.
Since any commercial project would not have the charitable draw of Folding@Home, the article suggests that Sony would consider offering incentives, such as free products or online credits, to users who agree to participate.
Sony Computer Entertainment CTO Masa Chatani indicated in an interview that Sony had already received numerous inquiries. “A start-up or a pharmaceutical company that lacks a super-computer could utilize this kind of infrastructure. We are discussing various options with companies and exploring commercial applications”, he said.
“If there is a big problem to be solved, each computer is responsible for processing a small chunk of information, then by analyzing it all together a big conclusion can be made. At any single moment, there are 11,000-12,000 PS3 users participating in Folding@Home. The number of contributors is far greater than we had anticipate", added Chatani.