Stanford University's Folding@home project has reached the computing milestone of a petaflop thanks to the PS3.

"The recent inclusion of PS3 as part of the Folding@home program has afforded our research group with computing power that goes far beyond what we initially hoped", said Vijay Pande, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home project lead.

Known amongst the scientific community, a petaflop is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS).

According to boffins at Sony, if every person on the planet were to perform a simple mathematical calculation, such as calculating a percentage, each person would have to perform 75,000 calculations every second for the world's population to achieve a petaflop.

By achieving a petaflop, scientists with the Folding@home program are now able to conduct research that typically would not be possible for 10 years down the line.

The Folding@home program up until recently leveraged only the distributed computing power of personal computers (PC) from around the world.

The PCs that made up the Folding@home network numbered roughly 200,000 giving the program the equivalent of about one-quarter of a petaflop.

On March 15, 2007, PS3 joined the program and since then close to 600,000 unique PS3 users have registered to the Folding@home network, bringing the overall computing power of the program to more than a petaflop.

PS3 users can join the program by simply clicking on the Folding@home icon within the Network menu of the XMB or can optionally set the application to run automatically whenever the PS3 is idle.