Sony folds up Folding@home PS3 project after 100M hours

The innovative effort, created in partnership with Stanford, was designed to improve researchers' ability to examine a process called "protein folding."

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
A look at protein folding on Folding@home.
A look at protein folding on Folding@home. Folding@home

Sony's Folding@home project is coming to an end after a successful five-year run.

The game company announced the closure in a blog post today, saying it made the decision after consulting researchers at Stanford University.

Folding@home was one of the more innovative initiatives that a game company has delivered in recent memory. The initiative allowed PlayStation 3 owners to share some of their device's computing power when the console was left on and idle.

The opt-in program, which was created through a partnership with Sony and Stanford University, was designed to improve researchers' ability to examine a process called "protein folding." According to the researchers, two-dimensional protein strands are capable of folding into three-dimensional molecules that then determine biological functions. In some cases, that folding goes awry, leading to diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.

In today's blog post, Sony said that more than 15 million PlayStation 3 owners participated in the program, lending over 100 million computation hours to researchers.

"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," Vijay Pande, Stanford's Folding@home lead, said today in a statement.

According to Pande, Folding@home helped the researchers develop a new strategy to fight Alzheimer's.