Thank you for your interest in joining the PCMech Folding@home Team!
The Folding@home distributed computing project started almost 15 years ago at Stanford University and today is a worldwide that currently encompasses 200,000 participating processors (both CPU and GPU’s) with an equivalent computing power of a 48 petaflops (48 x 10^15 floating point operations). By means of comparison, a single Intel i7-4790k 4.0GHz quad core processor (one of the fastest available at the time of this writing) can handle about 100 gigaflops (100 x 10^9 floating point operations per second), so this is truly an astonishing amount of donated computing power.
What is the purpose of the project and why is it important? In short, the project utilizes distributed computing power to better understand and ultimately help find cures for such dreadful diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, different cancers, and many others. This is done by using computing power to simulate the folding of different proteins, a very complex process that plays a key role in the understanding of these diseases. Participants in the distributed computing project download a client and are then given different work units to crunch on their PC’s (i.e. protein simulations) using only spare processing cycles (i.e. the performance of the PC is not impacted). The project has had great success to date, and over 100 research papers have been published from the results of its efforts.
We here at PCMech have supported the Folding@home effort for many years and continue to do so with the help of our members, believing that the donation of our spare computing power can make a difference. Detailed below are steps on how to get the Folding@home Client up and running on your Windows computer, along with instructions to join our team:
1) Go to http://folding.stanford.edu. Scroll down and click the “Start Folding Link” or the “Download” link on the top right of the site.
2) Choose the correct installer for your operating system (Click on “See all downloads” if you are using an OS other than Windows).
3) Once the installer has finished downloading, locate the downloaded file and start the install.
4) Once the install has finished, the Windows firewall prompt you whether you want to allow the Folding@home Access to the network. Choose Allow Access.
5) Next you will be given the option to fold anonymously or setup an identity. You’ll want to choose Set up an Identity so you can keep track of your contributions and they can be counted towards the PCMech Folding@home team.
6) In the Change Identity dialog box enter a user id in the Name field. In the Team Number field, enter 13761 (our team number). In the Passkey field, you’ll need to enter your passkey. Now this is not required, but highly encouraged as it allows you to earn more points. Simply click on the “Get A Passkey” link below. You will be prompted for your email and shortly afterwards you should receive an email from Folding@home with your passkey. Enter it in the box and click Save.
7) This should complete the basic setup. You can now configure the client to run according to your personal preferences. For example, you can choose to only run when you’re working on your computer or only when the machine is idle. Furthermore, you can also choose how much power to dedicate towards folding. All this can easily be done in the Web Control (screenshot below).
8) For advanced configuration options you can also launch the Advanced Control by locating the Folding@home program icon in the system tray (for Windows), clicking it and choosing Advanced Control.
Thank you again for your willingness to donate your spare CPU cycles on behalf of PCMech to help fight diseases. You can keep track of your individual and our team’s statistics here and/or here. If you have any questions regarding the setup or operation of the Folding@home client software, or about a our team, please start a thread in our Distributed Computing forum.
A Configuration Note When Folding With CPU’s and GPU’s Together:
If you plan to dedicate both your CPU and GPU(s) to Folding@Home, it’s important to let the client auto configure how many CPU cores to use for folding. If you manually override this setting to use all CPU cores you might experience system slow down and/or stability issues when allowing your GPU(s) to fold concurrently. For any specific questions regarding configuration, or if you are not sure, please ask a question in our forums.