Guinness World Records has officially named Folding@home as the 'World's Most Powerful Distributed Computing Network'.

Stanford University's Folding@home programme, as run by Sony PlayStation 3 gaming consoles and PCs around the world, exceeded 1 petaflop on 16 September. That's the ability to perform one quadrillion floating point operations per second (flops). It's the first time that this computing milestone has been reached.

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Up until recently, the Folding@home progamme used only the distributed computing power of PCs around the world. In March this year, Sony PlayStation 3 joined the program and since then more than 670,000 unique PS3 users have registered to the Folding@home network.

Reaching the petaflop milestone means that Folding@home's distributed network of idle PCs and PS3s has the processing power of a supercomputer. Over a month down the line and Guinness World Records has recognised that it is a significant achievement.

"To have Folding@home recognised by Guinness World Records as the most powerful distributed computing network ever is a reflection of the extraordinary worldwide participation by gamers and consumers around the world and for that we are very grateful," Vijay Pande, associate professor of chemistry at Stanford University and Folding@home project lead, said in a statement.

The petaflop world record could help scientists make greater progress in their studies of protein folding and its link to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and certain forms of cancer.

"This record is clear evidence of the power of Sony PlayStation 3 and the contributions that it is making to the Folding@home network, and more importantly, scientific research," said Masayuki Chatani, executive vice president and chief technology officer of the technology platform at Sony Computer Entertainment.