Xbox Saves Lives!

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OK, well…not exactly. But the popular game console is making its contribution to medical science these days. Dr Simon Scarle, a researcher in the University of Warwick’s WMG Digital Laboratory, wanted to study cardiac arrhythmias using simulations which typically involve booking time on a dedicated parallel processing computer or spending thousands of dollars on a parallel network of PCs. However, Dr. Scarle, who formerly worked as a software engineer at Warwickshire firm Rare Ltd, part of Microsoft Games Studios, was very familiar with the Xbox 360’s GPU and figured that it could be used to do much of the same processing as the parallel network of PCs could do.

As it turns out, he was right. His research has now been published in the journal Computational Biology and Chemistry under the title: “Implications of the Turing completeness of reaction-diffusion models, informed by GPGPU simulations on an XBox 360: Cardiac arrhythmias, re-entry and the Halting problem.” (Whew! That’s a mouthful!)

But basically it boils down to this, yes, the Xbox GPU can be used by researchers to save money on running these types of simulations. And if they can save money, then they can do more with the funds they’re given. More research could lead to better science. And better science, especially in medical matters such as those that Dr. Scarle studies, could have a direct impact on patients’ lives. So you see, you could almost say the Xbox saves lives…right?

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