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Researchers utilize Xbox 360 chips

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 15 Sep 2009 1:18 User comments (8)

Researchers utilize Xbox 360 chips Academics at the University of Warwick have taken advantage of the Xbox 360 GPU chip's parallel processing abilities to crunch data as part of scientific study. The Warwick team harnessed a single Xbox 360 Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) to model how electrical signals in the heart moved around damaged cardiac cells. It is an example of how technology being used for gaming can also be used to perform functions vital to modern research at a fraction of the cost.
The PlayStation 3's technology has also been used by researchers to build powerful number-crunching clusters for relatively low costs. Dr Simon Scarle, a researcher on the team, a researcher on the Warwick team, previously worked as a software engineer a Microsoft's Rare studio, which enabled him to tap into the power of GPU technology.

"You don't quite get the full whammy of a cluster, but its close," he said. "Instead of pumping out stunning graphics, it's reworked; in the case of my research, rather than calculating the position of a structure and texture it's now working out the different chemical levels in a cell."

He believes it is the first time that such a project has been carried out with chips from the Xbox 360. He believes that it is entirely possible to link many Xbox's together, in a similar way that has been done with the PS3. "It could be done, but you would have to go over the internet - through something like Xbox live - rather than a standard method," he said.

Sony has been doing this online for some time now, with the Folding@Home software coming as standard.

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8 user comments

115.9.2009 3:23

So the only reason that they used the xbox360 is because one of the engineers used to work for Microsoft? And even with the knowledge he gained there, he still can't figure out basic networking? And the cluster he was using was so slow that a single XboX360 processor (basicly a two-gen-old tripple-core xeon) is almost as fast?

Seems like just another braindead microsoft engineer doing things in a more difficult, slow, and expensive way for no reason at all. It also sounds like some people are still using extremely outdated clusters...clusters so slow that they are easily beaten by a single quad-core PC.

215.9.2009 4:20

The article states "GPU" ... they're using the multi-pipelined parallel graphics chip to do the crunching, not the CPU

315.9.2009 10:32

To me the story should read, used ATI GRAPHICS CHIP TO.

415.9.2009 12:19

Originally posted by tjohns:
The article states "GPU" ... they're using the multi-pipelined parallel graphics chip to do the crunching, not the CPU
It doesn't mention the CPU.

Originally posted by plazma247:
To me the story should read, used ATI GRAPHICS CHIP TO.
Where? I don't really get your point.

515.9.2009 12:27

Originally posted by plazma247:
To me the story should read, used ATI GRAPHICS CHIP TO.
I guess, looking again, that your point is about Xenos, but I still don't see why I should have totally left out that it is used with Xbox 360 and that it was used instead for research calculations... Why would I re-write what the University of Warwick actually says it is using?

615.9.2009 21:21

is this not the same as using liquid nitrogen to make a 486 CPU run ten times faster?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 Sep 2009 @ 21:30

715.9.2009 23:50

Hmm...mis-read it...

But this is even worse...the GPU in the xbox360 (an old ATI chip) is hardly a good processor. The old 4870HD will blow the xbox's GPU out of the water. Again I ask...what terrible, 10-year-old cluster was this guy using?

816.9.2009 13:09

You are all missing the big picture here...

We need to know how many times the researchers had to send in the unit to Texas to have it repaired. Or they probably just wraped it in a towel.

Just kidding love my xbox

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