TOKYO – The new PlayStation 3 isn't all about entertainment.
That's the message Sony Corp. (SNE) is trying to convey in announcing that the new game consoles — as powerful as supercomputers — can help Stanford University researchers analyze complex human protein structures and perhaps find cures for cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other ailments.
Thousands of die-hard gamers and entrepreneurs lined up last week to buy the sleek PS3 machines when they went on sale in the United States on Friday.
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Police had to disperse rowdy crowds at some stores, and in Connecticut, authorities said two armed men tried to rob waiting customers and shot a man who refused to give up his money.
Sony Computer Entertainment says that when Cure@PLAYSTATION 3 is launched, PS3 owners can register their machines with Stanford, download specially designed software and leave their machines online to process data when they're not playing.
It's modeled after existing programs in which personal computers process high-volume data for signs of extraterrestrial life and other tasks. PCs already contribute to the Stanford medical research program.
Sony said data processing time can be up to 20 times faster with a global network of PS3s, which are fitted with advanced Cell processors that can perform billions of calculations per second.
The program will kick off after the PS3 becomes available globally.
PS3s already are on sale in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States; the European launch was delayed until March because of production problems.