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Another Mixed Bag: Good and Bad Sony PS3 News

mixed bagThe 2007 Tokyo Game Show would have been a idyllic podium for Sony to make some positive PS3 announcements. Despite the hot gaming industry, they’ve been getting handedly beaten in monthly sales by Nintendo and even Microsoft.  They could use some good press.  Instead, a few bright spots notwithstanding, it was largely another missed opportunity and more bad news.  Sony said Thursday they were delaying the launch of their virtual world meets Xbox Live clone (aka their own virtual community for PS3 users).

The Home community was scheduled for a fall launch; due in time to help support the holiday sales push.   It’s now expected early 2008. Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Kazuo Hirai explained in a keynote that “this is going to be a worldwide service that needs to offer a wide range of functions required in Japan, in the U.S., in Europe and in Asia.” The delay is to insure those features are all in place.  What’s changed since the first deadline was set isn’t clear.  It sounds a little like somebody dropped the ball, again.

On a positive note, Sony’s gaming news wasn’t all bad.  The Stanford Folding at Home project, a distributed computing research project that relies on the global network of Playstations to provide computing power, set a record and passed a noted milestone a few days ago .  Due largely to the power of the PS3, the project is now operating at above a petaflop – which translated to plain English means using PS3s around the world, the network is able to perform a quadrillion operations per second.  That’s more powerful than any other distributed network so far on record and unlike other networks, it comes at a very low price.

Efficiency and computing power are major resources for the scientists who’s ambitious goals are to find cures for diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Cancer.  Absent the Playstations, their computationally intensive tasks would require expensive supercomputing resources or a vast network of computers.   “Thanks to the PS3”  said Vijay Pande, lead of the project, “we are now essentially able to fast-forward several aspects of our research by a decade, which wil greatly help us make more discoveries and advancements in our studies of several different diseases.”

So, the bad news is the PS3 is still struggling on the gaming front but in good news, scored for their efforts at helping humanity they’re leading the class.  
(A past profile on the Stanford Project and this amazing alternative use for the gaming platform can be found here)

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