With almost 800 petaflops of distributed computing power, Folding @ Home has set a new record for the time being – just a few days ago, the capacity was less than 500 teraflops. The distributed computing project from globally networked computers is using the increased speed to research the Sars CoV-2 virus. In a first step, the interaction with the ACE2 enzyme is examined.
Folding @ Home is by no means a new project; for almost two decades now, private individuals have been able to make the computing power of their computers or laptops available to simulate protein folding, thus helping to advance medical research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s or cancer. The non-profit project is based at Stanford University in California, the original idea came from Vijay Pande.
The current 768 double-precision petaflops (FP64) are far more than the world’s fastest supercomputer. The Summit at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses IBM’s Power9 and Tesla V100 from Nvidia, which theoretically creates 201 petaflops and in the Linpack benchmark the system has 149 petaflops. In fact, almost 800 petaflops of practical computing capacity are far more than the ten most powerful supercomputers in the top 500 list provide together; together they have 520 petaflops.
It is not only Folding @ Home that is devoting its execution speed to researching Sars-CoV-2. Said supercomputers also help: 16 systems are used for this under the leadership of IBM and the United States Department of Energy (DoE). The total computing capacity is around 330 petaflops – which currently means that far more than one exaflops is available for researching the corona virus.