Help Fight COVID-19 and Tom's Hardware: Join The Great Folding@Home Coronavirus Raceby Ryan Smith on March 18, 2020 10:45 AM EST
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, Tweakers.net, 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