a super computer under your TV?

Distributed or Superpersonal Computing in the news again 

Way back in Feb I suggested the idea of a internetwork of connected gaming consoles ( Xbox 360 in my own thumb rending world)  which could act as a single gigantic pool of processing power and that someone may pay me to use my little bit of it .

When those enterprising chaps at Sony announced they were going to enable their customers  to assist Stamford university’s folding@home project with their spare cycles my ears pricked up.

In the PS3 model the console needs to be left on when not using it where as my idea was to slurp a proportion of the spare cycles when you were playing a game ( a bit more Carbon friendly ;)  ), however there’s no real reason why both could not be the case.

Now it seems that certain bigwigs in the commercial world also had  aural extensions as in an interview with and subsequently reported by ft.com 

Masa Chatani, chief technology officer at Sony Computer Entertainment, said in an interview with the FT on Tuesday that the company had received numerous inquiries regarding this “distributed computing” model.

(via Engadget)

now there will be some resistance to this as there’s a great deal of goodwill to worthy causes but less to commercial enterprises.

the FT.com article claims that:

A network of just 10,000 PS3s would have as much power as a 200,000-strong network of personal computers.

so would you be comfy with that idea? another example posed by Mr Chatani   might soften your heart

a start-up or a pharmaceutical company that lacks a super-computer could utilise this kind of infrastructure.

Yeah yeah I hear you say pharmaceuticals are as bad if not worse than other commercial entities  but what if that request for your cycles to support their research was accompanied with a commitment to use the savings that they had made to subsidise the cost of the developed drug in developing countries?

Mr Chatani  exposed the potential

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 anticipated.

I bet it was :)

whilst Engadget suggests that Sony might shower freebies on participants Mr Chatani also seems to pass that responsibility up the food chain 

One scenario……would be for a company to offer each of its PS3 users incentives such as free products, or points, in exchange for their participation in distributed computing.

not sure how many of the companies from which I might want freebies would use this kind of model but if they were offering nectar points I might be interested.

Many contributors to Engadget suggest that this is selling your soul however as I commented over there this isn’t selling your soul, it’s recouping some of the cash  you’ve outlaid on a machine that spends a great deal of time idle – in some
ways it’s no different to google adsense on a blog and few people  bemoan that if it’s done properly. 

I suppose it does makes more sense that Sony would do this than Microsoft erode their own revenues but anyone taking up this model could even give you a choice – donate CPU power to worthwhile projects like folding@home; donate your earnings to charity or accrue cash yourself.

I like it….. more please

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