Microsoft mulls Xbox 360 Folding@Home client
In an interview with the Mercury News, Microsoft Entertainment Business Corporate VP Peter Moore has discussed the possibility of introducing a Folding@Home client for the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 could have sufficient processing power to make such an endeavor worthwhile. It's outfitted with a 3.2GHz IBM PowerPC processor—"Xenon"—that has 1MB of shared L2 cache and three independent, in-order cores, each capable of handling two threads simultaneously. The Mercury News first asks whether Microsoft has anything in the works to make the Xbox into a "multi-purpose device" like the PS3. Moore replies:
We continue to look at this and see whether there’s real value. (Moore mentions that Bill Gates "quite frankly has had a conversation about this" and notes that Gates is interested in applying "philanthropic processing power to big problems"). But I’m not quite sure yet whether we’re seeing real tangible results from the PlayStation 3 Folding@Home initiative.
The paper then points out there "seems to be an enormous amount of participation that's leading to a lot of speed-up in that research." To that, Moore responds:
Then if we truly believe that we can in some way marshal the resources of a much larger installed base of Xbox 360 owners, with a processor that's of equal power to the PS3, then you have my commitment that we'll look at that. And if we believe we can add value to solving a gnarly problem such as the medical problems and the health problems that Folding@home seems to be doing, then we’ll certainly look at that very strongly.
The Folding@Home client for Sony's PlayStation 3 came out in late March, and it quickly increased
the computing power of the Folding@Home project almost threefold. (Thanks to Kotaku
for the tip.)