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2008-08-02 10:55:34

Hello, i've a question for you: because i've got a new nintendo Wii for my birthday, it's possible to install a client of BOINC on it (like the client of Folding@home on PS3)? My Wii is always connected in internet (in standby)..
[BOINCstats] Willy
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2008-08-02 11:05:03

I'm afraid I haven't seen a BOINC client for the Wii yet. Also, keep in mind the Wii is by far not as powerful as the PS3 or even the XBOX360.

Still it would be interesting to see my Wii doing something useful for a change
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2008-08-02 14:48:28

I did a little digging a while back....
The Nintendo consoles use PowerPC based processors, which are in the same family as the Macintosh G3, G4, G5. Actually, I believe the Game Cube was in the family of the G3, and I think the Wii is in the family of the G5 (but a much lower speed than the Mac computers). While the PowerPC processors are great for data that is very parallel-izeable and benefits from a short data pipe, the Wii is not build for powerful computation.

Nintendo has not opened up the platform for their devices, so there is very little development, and what is being done is "working in the dark". Sony has actively encouraged development on the PS3, to the point that the game OS has options to boot into another operating system of your choice. Sony even worked with development on the Folding@Home client. With the XBox, it's essentially a PC with an Intel Celleron processor. The hardware is already understood. The anti piracy / hacking safeguards (non-existent in the PS3) are the obstacle. With Nintendo, the issue is on both sides. The hardware has anti piracy / hacking safeguards. Also, the hardware uses a specialized processor and chipset, so it is not well understood. (It's not completely alien, but there's a big difference between "in the same family of a G5" and "have well documented API calls and instruction sets".)

When I did some digging a couple months ago, there was a group working to export Linux to the Wii. They did not have a fully functioning kernel yet, but at the time "were close". Also, it was a hack, in every sense of the word. It exploited a vulnerability in the game loader for the current Zelda game. The Linux distro came as a saved game for Zelda. You would load the game, and appear in front of a castle. When you would talk to someone, the saved game had a stack overrun injection in the interface for the dialogue, and it would inject the Linux kernel into memory. The game would then crash, and the screen would then go to the boot loader for Linux.

Personally, I think the Wii would be a great addition to the distributed computing landscape. If it was possible (and legal and fairly easy), I'd buy a Wii today. For me, the selling points for the PS3 were three specific games ("Folklore", KH3, FF13), Folding@Home, and Linux. The Wii has Katamari Damacy, so a distributed computing project is all I need to get one.

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2008-08-02 19:52:41

There was a thread about the Wii at the BOINC forums, too:
Btw. the Wii has a 739 MHz PowerPC CPU and 88 MB RAM.
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