What are your New Year's resolutions? Did you vow to shed those holiday pounds you put on the past couple of weeks? Perhaps you promised to finally use this year's tax refund to put together that dream machine build you deserve. Whatever they are, here's an easy one to add to the list: start "Folding" for team Maximum PC.
We're referring to Stanford's Folding@home distributed computing project. The ultimate goal is to better understand (and find cures for) diseases like Alzheimer's, ALS, Huntingtons', Parkinson's, various cancers, and more. If you're new to Folding, or distributed computing in general, the way it works is you download a piece of software that taps into your spare CPU cycles to study protein folding. One machine by itself isn't very helpful, but collectively, it's like having access to a supercomputer.
Points are tracked and there's a lot of friendly competition (and trash talking) between sites. To join Maximum PC, you'd input 11108 in the Team number field. Hit up the links below for more info.
Stanford's Folding@home team has released a beta client for Nvidia GTX 400 series GPUs. It's the first F@h GPU client to achieve more than 1 microsecond per day performance, Nvidia says, who added that it worked closely with Stanford on this latest release.
Does all this sound Greek to you? In short, Folding@home is a distributed computing project run by Stanford University. The idea is to install the software on as many PCs as possible and combine all that computing power to help understand how proteins fold. By doing so, scientists hope to better understand (and eventually find cures for) diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and others. Folding@home takes a backseat to other tasks, only tapping into unused CPU (and in this case, GPU) cycles to do its thing.
To help keep things interesting, there's a strong competitive element to Folding@home in which you can join a team and help rack up points for bragging rights. If you want to join team Maximum PC (team 11108), check out this forum for more info.
The beta client mentioned above is only for Nvidia GTX 4xx owners and requires the latest Nvidia graphics drivers (197.45). However, Vijay Pande, director of the Folding@hom project, says his team is "actively pushing ATI support (with the help of AMD/ATI)," although there's no ETA just yet.
Before someone asks, the answer is 'yes,' we don't doubt the Atlas Folder can handle Crysis. But despite outfitting his server with 23 -- TWENTY EFFING THREE! -- gual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Jason Farqué, who goes by the username Atlas Folding, has a more important goal in mind:
"The reason that my father in enrolled in [a clinical trial] is the same as the reason I run my folding farm. To fight back, to do something," Farqué wrote on his blog. "To help science overcoming Huntington's Disease so that people as yet unborn wont' have as hard a time as he and others do. Because my father wants the human race to succeed, to get better, to overcome our bodies' inherent frailties by using our minds."
Farqué's father suffers from Huntington's Disease, and if Stanford's Folding@Home distributed computing project leads to a cure, then it will be hard to imagine a better use for such a gluttony of high powered videocards. Among the setup are 9 MSI-brand 295s, 14 EVGA-brand 295s, and and a single GTX 260 and 9800GT thrown in for good measure.
And if you think that's impressive, Farqué has been mulling a similar setup with Nvidia's 300 series once it launches.
Check out a video of the super Folding server here, a Maximum PC forum post on how Farqué handled the configuration here, and see how you can both help the cause and lead Maximum PC to victory in this year's Chimp Challenge here.