New PS3 update adds download queueing, Folding@Home

Posted by Mark Raby

Foster City (CA) - Corresponding with the European launch of the PS3, Sony will launch one of its biggest firmware updates for the console on Thursday.  Among the features that will be enabled are allowing downloading to be done in the background, and the ability to tap into Stanford's Folding@Home medical research program.

The Cell Broadband Engine in the PS3 is powerful enough to be useful for the ambitious Folding@Home project, says Sony. Originally announced a few days ago, the firmware update will be able to perform calculations and simulations for the research at 20 - 30 times faster than an average PC.

Another huge update for the PS3 will be the addition of a "download manager" for Playstation Store downloads.  Much like what the Xbox 360 already does, users will be able to queue up to six downloads.  They will run in the background, instead of requiring full use of the console like they do now.

In addition, the update will add support for Bluetooth keyboards and will allow users to choose to auto-start any disc that is inserted into the console.  Also, rewritable Blu-ray Discs (BD-RE) will be playable, and Remote Play with the PSP will be added for owners of the 20 GB PS3.

The update, which will push the version of the PS3 to 1.60, will be available some time during the day on Thursday.