1. Introducing the Cell Processor

In September 2007, the Guinness Book of World Records announced the new record holder for the world’s most powerful distributed computing system. It wasn’t a traditional cluster of high-performance computers, but a worldwide network composed of regular PCs and PlayStation 3 consoles (PS3s). Called Folding@Home, this distributed computing system simulates protein folding to analyze how diseases originate.

Before the PS3s joined in, the network was capable of only .25 petaflops (250,000,000,000,000 floating-point operations per second). But when the Folding@Home client started running on PS3s, the computation speed quadrupled in six months, making Folding@Home the first distributed computing system to break the ...

Get Programming the Cell Processor: For Games, Graphics, and Computation now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.