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Folding@home coronavirus project is 15 times faster than any supercomputer

Used GPU
Used GPU (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Folding@home now has approximately 2.4 exaFLOPS of processing power.
  • That combined total is more than the top 500 supercomputers in the world put together.
  • Folding@home uses the donated processing power to battle coronavirus (COVID-19) and other diseases.

Folding@home now has a combined processing power of approximately 2.4 exaFLOPS. That power is more than the top 500 supercomputers in the world put together and 15 times faster than the fastest supercomputer on Earth, the IBM Summit. Rather than building a single supercomputer, Folding@home relies on donated processing power from people's computers around the world. That power is then utilized to combat diseases such as coronavirus (COVID-19) and Alzheimer's. Folding@home shared the milestone on Twitter earlier this week.

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Battling a disease such as coronavirus requires various different methods of study. The massive combined processing power of Folding@home is used to model proteins related to the disease. Proteins move and form an incredibly high number of shapes, and all of them need to be studied. When Folding@home joined the fight against coronavirus, it explained how processing power can be used:

Proteins are not stagnant—they wiggle and fold and unfold to take on numerous shapes. We need to study not only one shape of the viral spike protein but all the ways the protein wiggles and folds into alternative shapes in order to best understand how it interacts with the ACE2 receptor, so that an antibody can be designed.

Since Folding@home began working on coronavirus, its power has skyrocketed. On March 23, 2020, Folding@home's combined processing power was 470 petaFLOPS, which was more than the world's top seven supercomputers. Now, at 2.4 exaFLOPS, it's more than the top 500 supercomputers. One exaFLOP is the equivalent of 1,000 petaFLOPS, meaning the combined processing power jumped by almost 2,000 petaFLOPS in just over a few weeks.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

3 Comments
  • Running this on a virt on our i7 home server. Gotta help out where we can! Just had a thought...they should install this app on all the super computers to get an exponential increase in power, no? :-))
  • that would amount to a 7% increase in power, roughly. that exponent is pretty darn small.
  • I love the program. But I just want to warn everyone using it on consumer hardware and, like me, not being aware of the risk: Unless you're running it on server hardware, you shouldn't run it on 50-100% for a long period of time. To clarify: You can, for a week or so, but it'll raise the risk of killing PC components, if they are not server hardware, but consumer grade stuff, which are not built for this kind of longterm strain. I'm not just saying this for no reason, since I experienced it first hand. Granted my hardware was ten years old, but the risk is still there - My personal story follows: I burned off my motherboard (there were sparks!). The motherboard short-circuited after running for about half a month on 100% but with large pauses in-bewteen. The last week before it died, it ran 24/7, only paused when I needed the horsepower for gaming. One day the PC just shut off while I was using it casually. I didn't think much of it, since the MB and processor was almost 10 years old, and it tended to do that, but when I turned it on, shortly thereafter sparks flew around in there - I quickly pulled the plug. First I thought it was the processor, but it turns out it was a transistor under a passive cooling element on the motherboard, that had literally exploded. In closing: Please use this program, it's a great way to help for free, but just don't run it on 100% for extended periods of time or 24/7 on anything but the lowest requirements unless you're using server hardware.