Posted: Feb 27, 2010 1:00 pm
by kiore
What is Folding@Home?
It is a 'distributed computing' project where people donate their unused computer processing power to scientific research.

What is distributed computing?

Distributed Computing is a method of computer processing in which different parts of a program, or different portions of data, are processing simultaneously on two or more computers that are communicating with each other over a network or through the Internet.

What is the goal of this research?

Our goal: to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases

What is protein folding?
Proteins are biology's workhorses -- its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery.

Protein folding is linked to disease, such as Alzheimer's, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers
Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

You can help scientists studying these diseases by simply running a piece of software.
Folding@home is a distributed computing project -- people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.

Why distributed computing?

Why not just use a supercomputer?

Modern supercomputers are essentially clusters of hundreds of processors linked by fast networking. The speed of these processors is comparable to (and often slower than) those found in PCs! Thus, if an algorithm (like ours) does not need the fast networking, it will run just as fast on a supercluster as a supercomputer. However, our application needs not the hundreds of processors found in modern supercomputers, but hundreds of thousands of processors. Hence, the calculations performed on Folding@home would not be possible by any other means! Moreover, even if we were given exclusive access to all of the supercomputers in the world, we would still have fewer computing cycles than we do with the Folding@home cluster! This is possible since PC processors are now very fast and there are hundreds of millions of PCs sitting idle in the world.

Quotes from F@H Home page and FAQ:

So now you have an idea what F@H and what distributing computing is why would you want to take part?
People contribute or donate their computer processing power for various reasons, some have people they know suffering from these conditions and want to 'strike back' others are interested in contributing to science or just taking part in this amazing project.

What do you need to contribute?
A computer or PS3 that is connected to the internet and you have permission to run applications on, there are programs (called 'clients')to run this research on the normal processor of your computer, the graphics processor (video card) or your PS3.
You don't need a super powerful computer to run the basic client and team members here are running with every thing from laptops to powerful gaming systems.

Why teams? Teams are a fun part of contributing adding support and a little competition to make things more interesting and effective.
You can join our team, another or just donate anonymously, joining a team has no strings attached. Don't feel the need to join our team, if you are already a member of another one you are still welcome to post here, but if you have no team consider joining us :mrgreen: .
When you set up your client all that is required is you put 182116 as your team number and you're in!

What are the 'points' that I read about and see in posters sig lines?
Points are an aproximation of science complete a metric or a currency we are 'paid' in. Every work unit (research packet) that you complete will have a point value attached to it that you are 'paid' with, every point you earn as a team member is awarded to you individually and your team. Points drive the team competition, but are also a measure of how much 'work' was required to complete the work unit.