Stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we here at AnandTech are doing the only thing that we can do: getting into trouble and picking fights. And we want your help! Please read on to learn about our “friendly” race with Tom’s Hardware, as we work towards using the power of distributing computing to help combat COVID-19.

For most of this month, it’s been difficult to have a conversation without invoking the word “coronavirus” at some point. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the COVID-19 disease it causes, has quickly brought life to a standstill in much of the West, after already having a similar chilling effect in parts of China earlier this year. And while the ramifications of this virus are going to be felt far and wide for months to come, there’s one, more immediate and inescapable problem: we’re all stuck at home, and we’re all going mad!

AnandTech’s publisher, Future Plc, has closed its offices for the foreseeable future, assigning everyone to work from home. So all of the editors, photographers, and other employees who would normally be congregating at work are now home – whether they want to be or not – and the cabin fever is real. And that effect is, apparently, especially strong among the staff at Tom’s Hardware, our loyal compatriots and competitors.

Against all logic and good sense, the chaps over at Tom’s Hardware have challenged the mighty AnandTech to a distributed computing race. And, of course, given everything that has been going on, it’s all about coronavirus. Not one to back down – especially after winning our previous two races – AnandTech has accepted their challenge, and starting today we are going to be racing Tom’s Hardware to see whose team can contribute the most work towards finding treatments for COVID-19!

Now what is all of this about, you might be asking? Folding@Home, a long-standing distributed computing project, recent added COVID-19-related research tasks to its list of projects. Organized by Washington University, Folding@Home (FAH) allows individuals to contribute computing time to Stanford’s research efforts. This in turn helps the researchers in combating the illnesses that are related to proteins and protein (mis)folding, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and COVID-19. Folding@Home has now been going on for almost two decades. And along with a long-standing AnandTech folding team, we’ve even used it in GPU benchmarks for several years now.

With the global pandemic going on, the researchers behind Folding@Home have decided to shift gears, and use the massive power of their distributed computing project to simulate SARS-CoV-2 in order to better understand how it works, and ultimately try to find treatments for it. And, given the significance of what’s going on right now – and the fact that we all, really, really want out – it seems only appropriate that AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware join the fight, for as much as a bunch of tech nerds can, at any rate.

Kicking off today, March 18th, we are holding a four-week Folding race to see which team is better. The more computer time donated to Folding@Home – the more protein folding work completed – the more points a team will score, with the highest scoring team being crowned the winner.

AnandTech of course is no slouch when it comes to distributed computing. Our team, the aptly named Team AnandTech, has been at it since late 1998, which is almost as long as AnandTech has operated. Among its notable accomplishments is beating the likes of the Macintosh evangelists, Slashdot, Tweakers.net, and more across over a dozen distributed computing projects ranging from computer science to biology to hunting for alien signals. And, of course, we’ve beaten Tom’s Hardware a couple of times as well.

Which is why I’m all the more surprised that Tom’s Hardware was willing to challenge us to a race. Under the auspicious leadership of Avram “third time’s a charm” Piltch, Tom’s Hardware is attempting to rally its forces to not only help deal with COVID-19, but beat Team AnandTech in the process. And while we respect our Tom’s Hardware colleagues, someone has to knock some sense into them every now and then. Distributed Computing is Team AnandTech’s home turf, and Team AnandTech will not be surpassed.

So I am once again calling on the readership of AnandTech and the intrepid members of Team AnandTech to come together for a good cause: beating Tom’s Hardware! Oh, yeah, and perhaps finding ways to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the globe at large…

Ultimately this race is for fun, but it’s also for a good cause. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a world-changing event, and, along with the immediate medical risks of the novel virus, the containment measures it requires are intense. The Folding@Home project is working on several simulations to improve humanity’s understanding of the virus and the disease it causes, with a goal of jump-starting new treatments and to bring the virus under control. It’s a worthy cause, as a result I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in our race over the next month.

The full details on the contest, including how to download the Folding@Home client and join Team AnandTech, our distributed computing team, can be found here.

I should also quickly note that, as the project has picked up a lot of attention over the last few days (we see you there, PCMR!), the Folding@Home servers themselves are under a bit of load as the team behind it works to keep new work units flowing. So if you aren’t immediately receiving COVID-19 work units after setting up the client, don’t despair. Work units are going out, and any (and all) Folding@Home work counts towards this race.

Finally, once you’re setup, be sure to drop on by our distributed computing forum and say hello. The team captain is keeping track of how many people sign up, and it's the best place to go to connect with the other team members and to get answers to any questions.

Carousel Image Courtesy of: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS

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  • Holliday75 - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Been awhile since I've done this, but now is as good as any to get back at it! Will sign up once I get home from work. My job is classified as "essential" so I have to be onsite. Bleh. Reply
  • brucethemoose - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    FAH's servers are apparently getting slammed: https://foldingforum.org/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=...

    I cant even get the statistics page to load atm.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Are you getting ‘bad gateway’ too? I’ve installed it on all the spare office workstations as I’m the only one in but most are sitting idle without work! Reply
  • Ken_g6 - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Third-party Folding@Home stats are available here: https://folding.extremeoverclocking.com/user_list.... Reply
  • Enverex - Thursday, March 19, 2020 - link

    Those third party stats will either be massively out of date, or simply not include you at all. Reply
  • extide - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Yeah, it has been very difficult to get work units in the past week or so. They are seeing like 10x-20x greater than usual traffic right now. Reply
  • leexgx - Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - link

    i have given up on CPU work units on F@H , using Rosetta@home for CPU and F@H for GPU when a unit comes across (last 12 hours i do seem to be receiving a constant flow of GPU work units on F@H) F@h dont like you hoarding work units so you can't just buffer some work units up like you can on bionic Rosetta

    once Linus gets his work unit server up on his 10gb line (i believe he might be setting one up at ISP leased line provider as well as they are posted interest of having one) more work units should be available
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    I mean don't they have a vaccine already? Its only a world changing event because of the social distancing they are doing fyi not specifically because its any worse than other viruses. Reply
  • Galcobar - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    A vaccine, despite Trump's misinformation during his press conferences, is at best months away and more realistically two years.

    The first safety trials have just begun injecting volunteers in Washington state. That's well before the stage in a clinical trial where the effectiveness is tested. Even if many of the normal licensing protocols are skipped, it still takes significant time to have enough opportunities for volunteers to contract the disease to demonstrate the vaccine is protective. Then there's manufacturing time, which recent advancements have cut from many months to still needing multiple weeks, and those advancements only work for certain types of vaccines.

    Of course that assumes the first vaccine tried works. It tools multiple trials to get a successful Ebola vaccine.

    And yes, this is worse than other viruses, that's why the social distancing. It's a novel virus, meaning it transmits easily. It's not like the flu, where chunks of the population are immune and act like firebreaks to slow the spread. SARS 2003 was deadlier, but over the course of the entire outbreak only infected thousands; SARS-CoV-2 cases are closing on two hundred thousand just since December.

    As for its lethality, we don't have enough data yet but it appears an order of magnitude more lethal than influenza on average. The US CDC published a comparison that's even worse but US numbers are hampered by a lack of testing (South Korea tests almost twice as many people per week as the US has tested total).

    The elderly or those with underlying conditions are of course the most vulnerable, but from China's experience the death rate among teens and children is 25 times higher than their annual flu numbers.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    Wait a minute, you are wrong. I literally just saw a post from local hospital saying they are testing on patients now. lol Reply

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