The Xbox 360 looks set to follow the PS3 in helping solve the world's ills following a discovery by a group of UK researchers.

Academics over at the University of Warwick have taken the game console's GPU and made it perform parallel processing functions that one day could mean you will be able to crunch data while you set about chain-sawing someone in half in Gears of War.

According to the BBC, who broke the story, "Dr Simon Scarle, a researcher and former software engineer at Microsoft's Rare studio, built the system to help him model how electrical signals in the heart moved around damaged cardiac cells".

Speaking to BBC News, Dr Scarle said that the code controlling the chip was modified, so instead of working out graphical calculations, it could perform other ones instead.

"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".

The discoverery, which is new for the Xbox 360, isn't new for games consoles however. Sony's PS3 console already offers its gamers a chance to help crunch data with the Folding@Home application.

The results of the University of Warwick's research are published in the journal Computational Biology and Chemistry.