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C/++/# Programming an XBox One to do scientific computation?

  1. May 27, 2016 #1


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    I've done quite a bit of scientific computation at work, mainly related to molecular QM and dynamics of hyperelastic bodies... I've used C++ to write the code for those applications. I also do some other simulations at home in my free time, just for fun.

    My home laptop isn't exactly the kind of machine you can do computationally intensive things with, and I just read about the XBox One:s Dev Mode that allows anyone to write apps or games for XBox with C++. I then got a strange idea - how difficult would it be to code an XBox app that would use the multiple processors of the console to calculate something like integrating partial differential equations numerically and then send the output file with the results to your laptop via WiFi connection? Or maybe even a game console version of Folding@Home or similar. I got an XBox One last christmas and I've been using it to play games and watch Netflix, but I also immediately started wondering if I'd be able to make my own XBox apps.

    I can even imagine an app that would let you "share" Xbox:s processor speed wirelessly to your PC to use it for any purpose.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2016 #2
    This would be an interesting proposition but I would suggest you look into the copyright laws of Xbox, as they may prohibit this sharing of the Xbox's processor for other devices.
    Just a thought... :smile:
  4. May 27, 2016 #3


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    I'll have to check that, thanks for the suggestion.

    The first program I'd try to make for Xbox would be something simple, like an app that receives a large matrix from PC via WiFi, diagonalizes it, and then sends the eigenvectors and eigenvalues back to the PC. A more difficult application would be rendering high-resolution videos with 3D fractals, something like in this YouTube video:
  5. May 27, 2016 #4


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    If your current laptop doesn't have the power to do what you want, replace it with something that does. Futzing about with Xbox is just going to keep you from doing any work on the stuff you really want to do.

    If you really want to get into parallel computing, some people put high-end graphics cards into desktops and use the manufacturer's developer tools for the card to access the graphics processors (GPUs) on the card. All this stuff is documented, the card manufacturer is aware of what's going on (that's how they get new apps running on their equipment), and you don't have to try to reverse-engineer or hack into a closed system - unless that's really what you want to do.

  6. May 27, 2016 #5


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    ^ This is not a serious project, I'm just doing it for fun. People who are in the Demoscene often produce things that work on unusual platforms, like this demo on a graphing calculator: . AFAIK the new Visual Studio 2015 has the feature of being able to compile C++ code to work on XBox1, and the developer license doesn't cost more than about $20.
  7. May 29, 2016 #6
    You could also create a web app instead. That could then run on any device that has a browser. So you could do your scientific computations on your XBox, your TV, tablet, phone, etc. and only have to write one app. And of course all of those devices could cooperate and work on the same problem together.
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