Distributed computing models have made up for a lack of super-computing availability for many years. From the early days of the Seti@home project in the 90’s, looking for extra-terrestrial life, through to the Folding@home initiative launched by Sony and Dr Vijay Pande from Stanford university on the PS3 back in 2007. There’s a lot of potential, and now Sony is looking to bring the Folding@home initiative to smartphones.
The Folding@home initiative isn’t new, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen smartphones used for distributed computing, with HTC jumping on-board first with their ‘Power to Give’ campaign, which was announced at MWC last year. The original Folding@home partnership ran from 2007 through to 2012 used the power of the PS3 games console, and saw the team set a record for the worlds largest distributed computing network, providing 1 Petaflop of resources for research. But Sony and Stanford University plan to top this record by expanding beyond consoles to smartphones. Initially, Sony will offer the Folding@home software to Xperia handsets in a beta trial using the Xperia Z-series phones, as well as the T3, T2, Ultra, M2 Aqua and C3 phones to launch, but expanding further afield later this year to any Android phone running Android 4.4 and above.
The potential here is quite large. Sony estimates that with 100,000 smartphones running the software, they could potentially generate up to 2 Petaflops of computing power, but with more handsets running, it’s an infinitely expansive program. What is all this power going to do? Dr Vijay Pande, a doctor in biology and structural chemistry at Stanford, says that ‘all this power could dramatically speed up the fight against diseases like Alzheimer’s’.
If you’re interested, and have a compatible handset, the app is now live in Google Play. Head on over and check it out and see what you think.