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What to expect from the PS3's new firmware upgrade

The latest from Sony's console.

A screenshot of the Folding@home distributed computing project. Folding@home

Sony will be releasing a software upgrade (1.60) to its PlayStation 3 console on Thursday, and it essentially consists of some convenience tweaks as well as a cool tie-in with a medical research project at Stanford University. Basically, Sony's taking a few more steps toward its vision of the PS3 as a living room media center rather than a gaming console. Unfortunately, it still has to deal with the Wii.

With regard to the convenience upgrades, you'll be able to connect Bluetooth peripherals, like keyboards and mice, to your PS3. You'll also be able to queue up to six downloads at a time from the PlayStation Store and track them with a new "Download Management" menu. And there's now an option to display a full QWERTY keyboard onscreen. As I said, convenience upgrades.

Wouldn't flOw make a cool protein-folding tool? Sony

But the big update is support for Stanford University's Folding@home, a distributed computing project that's kind of like SETI@home for medical research. Since 2000, PC owners have been able to opt into donating unused processor time to the project, which is attempting to learn more about serious diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's by looking at what happens when proteins don't "fold" correctly. It requires a lot of computing power, which is why Folding@home launched. Now, PS3 users will be able to opt into donating processor time to the project by choosing an option on the XcrossMediaBar (XMB) interactive menu.

Personally, I want to know if there's a way to mash up Folding@home with the seriously awesome flOw game. You could be a protein chain instead of a weird little underwater creature. Neat, right?