As the coronavirus
continues to spread, Standford University's Folding@home project announced that CPU-based protein folding COVID-19 jobs are headed to the distributed computing client. For those who wish to do so, this means they can donate their unused CPU cycles to potentially critical research into the coronavirus.
The idea behind distributed computing is drawing strength in numbers. While one solitary PC may have little impact on intense research, especially compared to something like a supercomputer
, distributed computing draws from hundreds, thousands, or even millions of PCs, each one sharing valuable resources towards a goal.
Folding@home focuses on disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. The client software taps into idle resources on a PC, so it is designed not to affect performance of everyday computing. Now the project is turning its attention to the coronavirus in hopes of better understanding the disease, and finding potential drug targets.
"The data you help us generate will be quickly and openly disseminated as part of an open science collaboration of multiple laboratories around the world, giving researchers new tools that may unlock new opportunities for developing lifesaving drugs...With many computers working towards the same goal, we aim to help develop a therapeutic remedy as quickly as possible," Folding@home explains.
Folding@home is joining other COVID-19 researchers from around the globe in hopes of developing drugs that can fight back against the disease. If you'd like to contribute (especially now that SETI@home has shut down), download the installer
from the project's website. You have the option of enabling Folding@home as a screensaver and/or automatically starting it when you log into your PC, starting it as a system service at boot time (doesn't work with a GPU), or starting it manually.
There have been around 130,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far, and over 4,750 deaths related to the disease. In the United States, there have been 37 deaths due to the coronavirus so far.
The coronavirus is also disrupting industry, manufacturing, travel, and entertainment. As a precaution, the NBA announced yesterday that it is suspending the rest of the season after it was confirmed that Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert had contracted the disease, and the NCAA stated that its March Madness college basketball tournament would be played in empty arenas (though that may get cancelled or suspended as well). Actor Tom Hanks also announced
that he and his wife Rita Wilson both tested positive for the coronavirus.