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Folding@Home Network Breaks the ExaFLOP Barrier In Fight Against Coronavirus

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In an astounding accomplishment powered by normal people around the world joining forces to beat the coronavirus, the administrators of the Folding@Home network reported today that the network has passed one exaFLOP of compute power, which is the equivalent of ten times the compute power of the world's fastest supercomputer, Summit. It's also more raw compute power than the top 103 supercomputers in the world, combined. 

A quick check of the stats today at Folding@Home reveals the network is now theoretically capable of 1.5 exaFLOPS from CPUs, powered by 4,630,510 CPU cores, and is augmented by 435,563 GPUs. 

(Image credit: Folding@Home)

 For reference, one ExaFLOP is the equivalent of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second. That's a billion billion operations, or one million times faster than today's high-end desktop PCs. That's significantly faster than today's fastest supercomputers, which tend to peak at ~400 petaFLOPS of performance and offer sustained performance in the 200-petaFLOP range, like the Summit supercomputer that vaulted the United States back into the supercomputing lead over China. 

We reported last week that the Folding@Home network, which sends small portions of massive computational workloads to be processed by volunteers, had reached 470 PetaFLOPS, driven by a 1,200% uptick in volunteers over a two-week period. Folding@Home's addition of coronavirus research to its normal pursuits, like cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's research, has led to an overwhelming amount of new users, and now an as-yet undisclosed rush of new volunteers have now more than doubled that amount of performance.

There are caveats, of course. Supercomputers are designed to pass information across a massive number of networked nodes at incredible speeds, while the Folding@Home network has limitations due to the standard model of distributed computing, which consists of sending workloads to average users via the internet. However, the Folding@Home network and its molecular dynamics workloads does lend itself well to large-scale problems that require mass compute, particularly with GPUs, giving it an incredible potential as researchers race to find a cure for COVID-19.

Rosetta@Home, another distributed computing program also known as BOINC, has also reported that it has doubled its user count since February. 

The global community is coming together through the Folding@Home and BOINC networks to fight back against the coronavirus by furthering research into possible cures or vaccines, which consists of using normal computers to complete small chunks of much larger problems, thus giving researchers access to an unprecedented amount of compute horsepower. 

You can help, too, by simply installing the Folding@Home application and turning over some of your spare CPU or GPU horsepower to help defeat the virus. It only takes a few minutes to set up the program, and then it's effortless as the program runs in the background. Yes, the application does consume power and will cause your PC to generate some heat, but many would consider that a small price to pay in order to fight the worst pandemic in modern history. 

Unfortunately, the massive surge of volunteers has led to a shortage of work units (the small chunks of larger workloads sent to each user), but Folding@Home has expanded its capacity to serve units to speed production. Work units are still being issued and many more are in the pipeline.

  • decaffeinatedMonkey
    This is purely epic. Wondering if they'll dish out other work unit types for other diseases in the meantime until they ramp up more COVID-19 units. I also hope this level of involvement continues past this pandemic.
    Reply
  • grimfox
    decaffeinatedMonkey said:
    Wondering if they'll dish out other work unit types for other diseases in the meantime until they ramp up more COVID-19 units. I also hope this level of involvement continues past this pandemic.

    My understanding is that covid-19 WU are included under the "other diseases" focus and that while you can bias your PC towards one of a couple of causes, F@H will send other WUs per availability. Given the current strain on their servers participants will get whatever WU is first in queue. This effort to focus on covid-19 will undoubtedly result in a lot of progress for research on other diseases.

    I think one of the big things that had held F@H back has been public awareness. Now that the public is aware and they are making headlines like this I would hope that this enables increased momentum going forward.
    Reply
  • Unolocogringo
    Another anticle !!!!!:crazy:
    Long time folder here and love all the interest we can get for Folding.
    Thanks for bringing folding to more peoples attention.
    Have Crashman or one of the reviewers do a number on cooling tweeks. Folding is putting your computer to max load and we are getting a lot of forum posts about peoples computers overheating from folding. Just a thought.
    And to everyone else
    THANKS FOR FOLDING
    Reply
  • Badelhas
    I tried it today but saw now reference to covid 19 on the settings, only cancer and alzeimer.
    Why is that?
    Reply
  • spentshells
    more power sure, but what about the internet connections?
    Reply
  • Unolocogringo
    Badelhas said:
    I tried it today but saw now reference to covid 19 on the settings, only cancer and alzeimer.
    Why is that?
    They have not updated the software to select just CV-19.
    Just select all diseases for now. You will get some CV-19 work units but not all will be for it.

    With the huge rush of folders in the last few weeks the volunteers there have been doing everything in their power to meet demand for work units.
    Things are a little better today and hopefully will improve over the next few days.

    Folding @ Home is mostly run and supported by volunteers and donations. It receives some government funding. But that does not include money for servers or storage or salaries for people to program/run/repair/network etc... the computer systems we connect to.
    So please Everyone, we should be giving these people a standing ovation!!!
    Not bickering and complaining amongst ourselves about the lack of work units and our points going down

    We hit a major computing milestone today in computing power all supported by VOLUNTEERS !!
    Reply
  • Angelman
    Thanks Toms for joining the massive pool of ignorant reporting on the "worst pandemic in modern history". You should've stopped that paragraph at "runs in the background." Who knows, maybe by modern history you meant the last 20 years? You'll still be wrong, be at least you wouldn't sound uninformed. For anyone interested in that dumb little thing that the media can't get right, facts, check out the W.H.O.'s report for infection rate and deaths (currently sitting at less than a 4.5% mortality rate) at:

    https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200325-sitrep-65-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=2b74edd8_2
    Also, if modern history is allowed to extend 100 years ago unlike the 20 years or so used by this author, read about the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed 25 million people in 6 months with a total of an estimated 50 - 100 million, and a total of infected estimated at 500 million. That's just one and the list is a lot longer. For the easily triggered sensitives out there, this does not take away from the caution one should have in this current "pandemic". One should ALWAYS practice the cleanliness guidelines that were put out by the CDC. As far as the Folding@Home report goes, it's awesome that so many have volunteered their spare computing power to find a cure for COVID-19. I hope that the same enthusiasm is exhibited when other virus' are discovered and that more people stay online after this to try and discover cures for current diseases and ailments.
    Reply
  • cfbcfb
    Unolocogringo said:
    Another anticle !!!!!:crazy:
    Long time folder here and love all the interest we can get for Folding.
    Thanks for bringing folding to more peoples attention.
    Have Crashman or one of the reviewers do a number on cooling tweeks. Folding is putting your computer to max load and we are getting a lot of forum posts about peoples computers overheating from folding. Just a thought.
    And to everyone else
    THANKS FOR FOLDING

    Got a link for the cooling tricks. I've stress tested my 3700x machine to 100% cpu and 100% GPU and the temps stayed normal. With folding@home and a cpu load, the cpu was only at 83% but my cpu temps went into the mid 90c range even with the side off and a big fan blowing in. I set the affinity to just one core and it dropped to 10% cpu, but the temps stayed in the 85c range, still a bit warm. Folding must use aspects of the cpu (like integer/fp?) that normal workloads don't lean on as much. About the only thing I could do is water cool it, but that'd be a major job since its in a case you can't remove the back of, so I'd have to pull the motherboard.

    My 6700K with a huge water cooler on it is keeping up <80C and my 6700 rig with a large air cooler stays around 78C, but I sure would like to get the 3700x into the mix.

    Also need more work units! I had all 3 of them on all day the last few days and only caught about 8 hours of work units.
    Reply
  • PBme
    cfbcfb said:
    Got a link for the cooling tricks. I've stress tested my 3700x machine to 100% cpu and 100% GPU and the temps stayed normal. With folding@home and a cpu load, the cpu was only at 83% but my cpu temps went into the mid 90c range even with the side off and a big fan blowing in. I set the affinity to just one core and it dropped to 10% cpu, but the temps stayed in the 85c range, still a bit warm. Folding must use aspects of the cpu (like integer/fp?) that normal workloads don't lean on as much. About the only thing I could do is water cool it, but that'd be a major job since its in a case you can't remove the back of, so I'd have to pull the motherboard.

    My 6700K with a huge water cooler on it is keeping up <80C and my 6700 rig with a large air cooler stays around 78C, but I sure would like to get the 3700x into the mix.

    Also need more work units! I had all 3 of them on all day the last few days and only caught about 8 hours of work units.
    Certainly seems to put a different stress on the CPU than does some of the benchmarks. I can run my 3950x at 4.4 all core and run Cinebench and cpu-z stress tests without issue but doing so with Folding running a job will crash the system.
    And agreed on the work units. That 10x supercomputer power spends most of the day twiddling its thumbs. Fully closing and restarting the client seems to have a greater success rate in getting WU for either the CPU and/or GPU vs. just waiting.
    Reply
  • shorttack
    Badelhas said:
    I tried it today but saw now reference to covid 19 on the settings, only cancer and alzeimer.
    Why is that?
    The client program has not been updated to show Covid as a choice. Make sure to set up CPU as a folding client and you are sure to get Covid work. GPU is more mixed.
    Reply