26 March 2020

Folding@Home


The corona virus and COVID-19 are at the top of everyone’s mind right now. The whole world is trying to deal with this pandemic. States are issuing stay-at-home orders and just about every company is trying to figure out how to allow their staff to work from home. The least that a tech nerd like me can do is contribute a few clock cycles towards the research that will hopefully help to bring about an end to all this madness.

Folding@Home (F@H) is a project focused on disease research thru distributed computing power. They get folks like you and I to share our otherwise unused computer power (when our PCs sit idle) to solve calculations that help them get answers to their medical questions about proteins and disease. The more people that set-up the Folding@Home client in their Home-Labs or on that spare laptops/PCs laying around their house to contribute towards their project, the bigger the distributed supercomputer we create. How cool is that!

Before the global COVID-19 outbreak F@H had roughly 30,000 users globally that contributed their spare compute power. In the past couple weeks, that number has surged. They have over 400,000 users that are now contributing and that number keeps growing daily. The F@H project is now at over 470 PetaFLOPs (FLOPs = floating point operations per second) of raw compute power. That makes it over twice as fast as the fastest supercomputer in the world (2019). Not only that, but it is faster the the top seven supercomputers combined. Combined! That’s equivalent to the horsepower of 27,433,824 CPU/GPU cores. I can’t even fathom that. They are predicting that F@H will soon reach exaFLOP levels. That’s a billion billion operations per second. Totally crazy!


Here are a couple links to news articles about the recent explosion in growth around the Folding@Home project:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2020/03/24/the-new-supercomputer-researching-coronavirus-is-powered-by-400000-ordinary-pc-users/

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/26/coronavirus-pushes-foldinghomes-crowdsourced-molecular-science-to-exaflop-levels/


While F@H 1,200%+ increase in contributors and associated surge in demand has temporarily lead to a shortage of work units, the F@H team is working to expand and increase their capacity to serve units. In F@H terms, work units are the smaller bits of a larger workload, and are what is actually sent to each user.

It takes just minutes to setup. They have clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as support for both CPUs and GPUs. Once it is setup, it’s effortless on your part and just runs in the background.

Now that you are ready to contribute, the first step is to create a passkey. The passkey will identify you and will allow FAH to assign you work units. To create your passkey, use the link below.

https://apps.foldingathome.org/getpasskey

Just to let you know, when I signed up this week, it took a few hours for me to receive my passkey from F@H. So don’t get upset if you don’t hear from them immediately after clicking “Get Passkey”.

Once you have your Passkey, follow one of my posts (coming soon!) below to install and deploy the Folding@Home client on your system.

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