Stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we here at AnandTech are doing the only thing that we can do: getting into trouble and picking fights. And we want your help! Please read on to learn about our “friendly” race with Tom’s Hardware, as we work towards using the power of distributing computing to help combat COVID-19.

For most of this month, it’s been difficult to have a conversation without invoking the word “coronavirus” at some point. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the COVID-19 disease it causes, has quickly brought life to a standstill in much of the West, after already having a similar chilling effect in parts of China earlier this year. And while the ramifications of this virus are going to be felt far and wide for months to come, there’s one, more immediate and inescapable problem: we’re all stuck at home, and we’re all going mad!

AnandTech’s publisher, Future Plc, has closed its offices for the foreseeable future, assigning everyone to work from home. So all of the editors, photographers, and other employees who would normally be congregating at work are now home – whether they want to be or not – and the cabin fever is real. And that effect is, apparently, especially strong among the staff at Tom’s Hardware, our loyal compatriots and competitors.

Against all logic and good sense, the chaps over at Tom’s Hardware have challenged the mighty AnandTech to a distributed computing race. And, of course, given everything that has been going on, it’s all about coronavirus. Not one to back down – especially after winning our previous two races – AnandTech has accepted their challenge, and starting today we are going to be racing Tom’s Hardware to see whose team can contribute the most work towards finding treatments for COVID-19!

Now what is all of this about, you might be asking? Folding@Home, a long-standing distributed computing project, recent added COVID-19-related research tasks to its list of projects. Organized by Washington University, Folding@Home (FAH) allows individuals to contribute computing time to Stanford’s research efforts. This in turn helps the researchers in combating the illnesses that are related to proteins and protein (mis)folding, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and COVID-19. Folding@Home has now been going on for almost two decades. And along with a long-standing AnandTech folding team, we’ve even used it in GPU benchmarks for several years now.

With the global pandemic going on, the researchers behind Folding@Home have decided to shift gears, and use the massive power of their distributed computing project to simulate SARS-CoV-2 in order to better understand how it works, and ultimately try to find treatments for it. And, given the significance of what’s going on right now – and the fact that we all, really, really want out – it seems only appropriate that AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware join the fight, for as much as a bunch of tech nerds can, at any rate.

Kicking off today, March 18th, we are holding a four-week Folding race to see which team is better. The more computer time donated to Folding@Home – the more protein folding work completed – the more points a team will score, with the highest scoring team being crowned the winner.

AnandTech of course is no slouch when it comes to distributed computing. Our team, the aptly named Team AnandTech, has been at it since late 1998, which is almost as long as AnandTech has operated. Among its notable accomplishments is beating the likes of the Macintosh evangelists, Slashdot,, and more across over a dozen distributed computing projects ranging from computer science to biology to hunting for alien signals. And, of course, we’ve beaten Tom’s Hardware a couple of times as well.

Which is why I’m all the more surprised that Tom’s Hardware was willing to challenge us to a race. Under the auspicious leadership of Avram “third time’s a charm” Piltch, Tom’s Hardware is attempting to rally its forces to not only help deal with COVID-19, but beat Team AnandTech in the process. And while we respect our Tom’s Hardware colleagues, someone has to knock some sense into them every now and then. Distributed Computing is Team AnandTech’s home turf, and Team AnandTech will not be surpassed.

So I am once again calling on the readership of AnandTech and the intrepid members of Team AnandTech to come together for a good cause: beating Tom’s Hardware! Oh, yeah, and perhaps finding ways to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the globe at large…

Ultimately this race is for fun, but it’s also for a good cause. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a world-changing event, and, along with the immediate medical risks of the novel virus, the containment measures it requires are intense. The Folding@Home project is working on several simulations to improve humanity’s understanding of the virus and the disease it causes, with a goal of jump-starting new treatments and to bring the virus under control. It’s a worthy cause, as a result I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in our race over the next month.

The full details on the contest, including how to download the Folding@Home client and join Team AnandTech, our distributed computing team, can be found here.

I should also quickly note that, as the project has picked up a lot of attention over the last few days (we see you there, PCMR!), the Folding@Home servers themselves are under a bit of load as the team behind it works to keep new work units flowing. So if you aren’t immediately receiving COVID-19 work units after setting up the client, don’t despair. Work units are going out, and any (and all) Folding@Home work counts towards this race.

Finally, once you’re setup, be sure to drop on by our distributed computing forum and say hello. The team captain is keeping track of how many people sign up, and it's the best place to go to connect with the other team members and to get answers to any questions.

Carousel Image Courtesy of: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS

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  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Also, even from CDC and WHO it shows its not any worse. The only reason social distancing is happening because they don't KNOW how it transmits completely yet. Even though its already showing signs of tampering off even in areas without social distancing in place.
  • Samus - Thursday, March 19, 2020 - link

    They know how it spreads because its half-life and survivability has been extensively tested on dozens of surfaces. Other than contact with contaminated surfaces, it has been well known it is transmitted through the air in the form of micro droplets. Any humidity in a room is going to help it linger. It isn't a very complex virus but it is incredibly contagious, more so than the flu (which is also incredibly contagious for being such a mainstream virus)
  • tmanini - Saturday, March 21, 2020 - link

    Please please please, understand that the aerosolized portion of the article you linked has to do with nebulizers used in hospitals (and homes) for treatment like asthma. It has NOTHING to do with sneezes, which are far larger droplets by comparison. AND, humidity HELPS virii fall more quickly (which is why the flu doesn't linger as long in summer and is a winter illness spike). *sigh*
  • HammerStrike - Friday, March 20, 2020 - link

    In South Korea, which has the most complete testing we can get, they are showing a case fatality rate of 0.6%. Flu varies from year to year but it averages around 0.07%. Italy has a case fatality rate of 8.3%. Perhaps that’s what it looks like when the hospital system gets overwhelmed, although there is undoubtably undetected cases in all those countries that are not be included, so total mortality rate is lower.

    Even assuming the SK case fatality rate is double the final mortality rate you are looking at o.3%, which is over 4 times as deadly as the flu. And since there is no immunity in the population, unlike the flu, which the majority of people do not get each year due to vaccines and partial immunities from previous flu illnesses, the vast majority of the population will get covid 19 if left unchecked.

    According to the CDC 3%-11% of the population gets the flu each year. On average 0.07% of them will die.

    Covid-19 will infect at least 60% of the population Over the next year if left unchecked, with a magirity of that in the next few months. Run the numbers - shit ton die more from Covid then the flu. By orders of magnitude. Not the same thing. Interventions are warranted. Will not change the total amount of infections, but will at least give the hospital system a shot at managing the amount of patients that need intensive care so the case fatality rate is closer to SK at 0.6% vs Italy at 8.3%
  • FreckledTrout - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    I know you are joking but even if this was true it could still be a while especially if the testing failed to provide immunity.
  • Galcobar - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Again, these are safety trials. Researchers will take months to see if the vaccine is safe, then start trials on effectiveness.

    For some reason, the most complete version of the AP news article I could find was from the CBC:

    As for lethality, I don't know where you're getting your numbers from but the man leading the US federal response, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has explicitly stated SARS-CoV-19 is deadlier than the flu (he conservatively estimated 10 times deadlier if undiagnosed COVID-19 cases are included). Also, the WHO estimate is a 2.3 per cent mortality rate, versus 0.1 per cent for the flu.

    Perhaps you should read over this piece from John Hopkins Medicine, which has been tracking the disease since it emerged.
    Or perhaps check the news out of Italy, where there are so many deathly ill patients that doctors are literally having to decide who they should treat, and therefore who dies.
  • sonny73n - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    ”Wait a minute, you are wrong. I literally just saw a post from local hospital saying they are testing on patients now. lol”

    A Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was giving the US 1 million masks and 500 thousands test kits a few days ago. I don’t know if the US accepted his donation after talking shit about how the virus originated from China. As of now, test kit isn’t available for everyone. There’s only for those with symptoms.

    Here’s something for your lazy brain:
  • Pleiades-0 - Thursday, March 19, 2020 - link

    Testing a stage1 Military R&D Stgem Cell proto vaccoine is the very first step. You don't know what you are talking about.
  • HammerStrike - Friday, March 20, 2020 - link

    There is a stark difference between some people getting tested and everyone showing symptoms being tested. This last week I am aware of 3 people, one a friend who is a doctor whom was exposed examining a patient, one a close friend and the other my wife, whom were denied a test. The doctor was denied because no symptoms and orders on 14 day quarantine, while my wife and close friend both have classic symptoms (fever, dry cough, body aches) but were denied a covid test because they didn’t meet the criteria. My wife was tested for influenza a & b and that came back negative.

    Fortunately all three doing fine, but there is extreme rationing of tests. It’s a disgrace. I live in Minneapolis, MN FYI.
  • Samus - Thursday, March 19, 2020 - link

    Most labs I've been following, Inovio (San Diego) and Regeneron (New Jersey) have had C19 sequenced since early soon as they received DNA samples from China. It took 3 hours to sequence because it's an incredibly simple virus and it hasn't mutated (that they know of.)

    The Trump administration had initially been roadblocking FDA fast track access so both labs were stuck doing internal animal testing, which basically just makes sure its safe - it doesn't even test to see if it works.

    Arcturus (also San Diego) is a larger lab that is publicly traded, so they have more resources and more political weight, and even still they are having trouble with FDA accessibility. Naturally, they also have a vaccine ready to be tested.

    Inovio asked, and was granted, $5 million from Bill Gates, who is rumored to have stepped down from the board at Microsoft in the wake of Coronavirus to focus his time and efforts on coordinating cash disbursement and helping fight the disease with faster testing and rapidly developing a safe vaccine.

    What's important to point out:

    The Trump administration up until THIS WEEK has not just ignored but intentionally roadblocked many labs from important federal resources and waivers.

    Perhaps most shocking if we had a chance to test a vaccination for SARS years ago, developed by a Texas lab. It has sat in a refrigerator since being developed. Since it was never tested because the FDA didn't deem it necessary and never granted a waiver, it's equally behind all the other labs that presumably developed a very similar vaccination. Like the flu vaccination, it's important to remember even if it isn't perfect, it can still be the difference between life and death for many people because with a vaccination, your body will detect an attack similar to those it is immune too sooner. This is referred to as 'antibody effect'.

    Vaccination testing is incredibly complex, even more so for a Coronavirus because by definition these viruses jump from presumably-immune animal hosts to humans, so testing them on animals that are unaffected by the virus in the first place, meaning human clinical trials are two stages of multiple phases. Before those start they need to be tested on animals for safety screening since it is a brand new style of vaccination.

    Even fast tracked trials take months EACH. Remember, two trials needed for a animal transmission vaccine (the same goes for rabies, ebola, lyme, etc) The exception is, naturally, influenza vaccinations, because they bypass clinical trials by not 'deviating from the formula' and only certain tweaks are made year-over-year. The packaging, preservatives and overall manufacturing remain the same, so these things don't need to be tested; this is simply called a screening trial although they can be considered prevention trials.

    Manufacturing a vaccination, like any drug, takes months. This isn't like pressing a record.

    We will be lucky to have a vaccination available for those at extreme risk, approximately 60 million people in the population of the United States (over age 65, preexisting conditions such as autoimmune diseases, those with heart disease or heart complications, etc) by the end of the year.

    Although speculative, it's widely viewed this could have been almost entirely prevented from becoming a pandemic like the last three epidemics (SARS, MERS, Ebola) if our government was watching the world closer instead of leaving it up to everyone to watch themselves. As much as Americans don't like us 'taking care of the rest of the world' we are a superpower and we are the United States. This is what we do. And if anything, this is what we do for our own national security. Containing a virus elsewhere and preventing it from coming here is a matter of our own economic safety as much as it is a health issue. The political climate and the dismantling of fundamental government operations from the EPA to the CDC and everything in between have put the entire world at risk.

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