Why it matters: In the wake of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it's important that we all do our part. To that end, it's encouraging to see the PC enthusiast community come together and support such an important effort on behalf of Folding@home and their research into Covid-19.
What started as a call to action from PCMR and Nvidia has resulted in some 400K volunteers joining Folding@home to donate computing resources aimed at studying Covid-19. Before gaining traction within the PC gaming and enthusiast community, Dr. Greg Bowman stated there were around 30K active volunteers folding Covid-19 related WUs.
According to Bowman, with just 30K volunteers dedicated to Covid-19, Folding@home was around an estimated 100 petaFLOPS of computing performance. Now, with over 400K, Folding@home is capable of 470 petaFLOPS of distributed computing performance. Put another way, about twice the peak compute of the Summit supercomputer. Summit has a peak compute of 200 petaFLOPS, with a LINPACK benchmark of 148.6 petaFLOPS.
Amazing! @foldingathome now has over 470 petaFLOPS of compute power. To put that in perspective, that's more than 2x the peak performance of the Summit super computer!— Greg Bowman (@drGregBowman) March 20, 2020
Following the example set by PCMR, several tech outlets have joined in as well. Tom's Hardware, AnandTech, HotHardware, and OC3D have all put folding teams together. Even PC hardware vendors like EVGA have gotten in on it. Additionally, Gigabyte has donated 10 high-end PCs to Folding@home research teams.
Folding@home has several CPU and GPU-based simulations aimed at analyzing the dynamics and properties of the Covid-19 proteins. From there, Folding@home will hopefully gain insight into how drugs could affect the virus, leading to potential treatment opportunities.
If you're interested in folding, you can download the Folding@home software here.