Stanford University’s Chemistry department has created a distributed computing project called Folding@Home designed to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases. In addition to home computers, Sony’s PS3 has been brought into this project, leaving some wondering when the XBox 360’s larger installed base would be enlisted. Microsoft had explored the idea, but there is a fatal flaw in the XBox 360’s CPU, GPU, and motherboard design and construction.
Normal operating conditions cause these components to warp, potentially allowing the solder joints between the CPU/GPU and the motherboard to fail, resulting the dreaded red ring of death. The Folding@Home client uses 100% of the CPU power and nearly 100% GPU power while running, which generates a significant amount of heat, which would increase the stresses on these components. Some estimates place the current failure rate of XBox 360’s at 10%, well above the industry standard of 3%. It is doubtful that Microsoft is willing to risk pushing that already high failure rate any higher with the application of the F@H program.
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