1ComputerCare

Folding@home

This is the page of the 1ComputerCare Folding@home team.  Below you will find
  • What is Folding@home
  • How to install the client
  • Configure the client and join our team

Folding@home is a project run out of Stanford University that co-opts a large number of home computers all over the world and uses them to perform calculations for the benefit of medical research. Only CPU idle time is ever used, so performance should not be degraded and the charitable donors may not even notice that they are collaborating in a giant grid of distributed computers. 

The term 'folding' refers to the action of proteins forming themselves into bundles that are used as enzymes, antibodies or other biological components.  Occasionally these bundles form badly and this is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, cancer, Parkinson's and others.  It is hoped that a better understanding of how proteins (mis)fold will lead to knowledge that will help find treatments for many ailments.

For more detailed information on the project please visit the Folding@home website or download this PDF. For a thorough independent explanation I recommend a visit to Wikipedia, the F@h Wiki the Forum or News page.

The key problem in this aspect of biological/medical research is that the opportunities to experiment are very limited, but by simulation on computers an understanding of the causes of some ghastly medical conditions may be obtained. The groups of simulations are so complicated that no single computer would be able to do them in a reasonable time, however by harnessing spare resources of over a million home computers this becomes a feasible prospect.  Note that running these folding simulations does not damage or shorten the life of your computer at all and no information is sent or received other than folding data.  The simulation can be run on Windows PCs as well as PS3s, Linux distros and OSx.  Contributing to this research is a big contribution for practically no cost - why wouldn't you want to donate your computer's idle time ?

To learn more about the science behind the 12 year old project, there are a series of 2 minute video talklettes on YouTube

To see how our team's contribution has helped deliver real tangible benefits to mankind checkout the blog of achievements.  For information about the diseased currently being studied see the FAQ.  To see over 100 scientific papers published as a direct result of Foldin@home donors visit the Pande publications page.

How to install the client

Easily done by downloading from the Folding@home website or I would be happy to connect to your computer remotely and do it for you (no charge of course). If you do it yourself you can get help from following the Client Installation Guide.  Internet Explorer works best.

Configure the client and join our team

When set up correctly there is no noticeable impact on your use of your computer.  The only resources used significantly are the CPU and/or GPU and the Folding@home program runs at the lowest priority possible so everything else takes precedence.  With no configuration there may be a slight lag but to eliminate even this delay it is possible to limit the CPU usage.  To do this click the Configure button and then the Advanced tab.  Slide the Percent CPU usage down to say, 80% and limit the slots to actual - 1; also in this screen check the Pause while on battery power if running on a laptop.

To record your good works against our team statistics, click the Identity tab and give yourself a screen name (it does not have to be your real name, although I have set mine to Eugene_Gardner).  Most importantly enter our team number: 217881  Next, a passkey is recommended to ensure your record is unique and qualify us for some bonus.

Now click the Save button and you are done. 

The folding client can be run on your graphics card as well as using the CPU resources, but my experience is that if you get Folding@home error messages you would be better disabling the graphics client and letting the smp one do it's thing alone.  Note that if text is not as clear as it was before installation, you may have to re-enable ClearType - right click the desktop, Personalize, Display, Adjust Clear Type text.

One last thing I suggest is to open the Preferences and check Start minimized and also Show project info in Advanced so that you can see what your generosity is supporting.  Here is an example of a project's info

Project 8041 The Src family protein tyrosine kinases are enzymes that play key roles in transducing cellular signals regulating cell growth, differentiation, proliferation, migration and survival. These enzymes are responsible for diseases such as cancer in which the cells undergo uncontrolled differentiation. Crystallographic x-ray structures of human c-Src in the inactive and active conformation allow clear structural distinctions to be drawn between the inactive and active states. Those x-ray structures, though rich in information about the two end-points of the activation event, do not show how the activation occurs and how it might be regulated. Simulations and computational models, at different levels of approximation, can complement some of the missing information about Src and help address these important questions. Characterizing conformational transitions in large biomolecules such as Src is challenging, however, because the slow processes are not easily observed during simple unbiased molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. To circumvent those difficulties, previous studies of Src by our collaborators have used biased sampling techniques such as string method to get the series of structures which show the structural changes involved in the activation process. In this project, we perform simulations of src kinase from the structures obtained using the string method to get a more detailed picture of the activation process.

Please let me know how this page could be improved.