Welcome back to the fold! After reading my first post, I realized that I did a terrible job at explaining what this blog is about. So here’s a second attempt.
Folding at Home (F@H) is a distributed computing project hosted by Stanford University. It’s basically computer charity, although it’s not an effort to save computers from viruses or from the Seven Slow Deaths of Obsolescence. F@H uses your computer to turn electricity into scientific advancements that help people.
By running computer simulations for Stanford, we help researchers discover secrets about cancer and other diseases. F@H is the largest distributed supercomputer in the world, with over 150 thousand active physical CPUs spread across the globe. Many of the people who participate have a personal connection to the cause, such as a relative with Alzheimer’s, a Mad Cow, or cancer. Others just wanted a unique way to give to charity. No matter what the specific case is, F@H contributors often explain their reasoning as:
1. I want to help people!
2. I am a huge geek!
For the typical contributor, the process is simple. They download the uniprocessor client from Stanford, install it, and let it run it in the background on their computer during the day. That’s great, however as with many things in life there is a downside. If you have ever seriously researched Folding@Home, you might have come across a group of haters on the internet that bash the program for being an environmental disaster. They say that Folding@Home is actually killing people & the planet at the same time. With thousands upon thousands of computers eagerly juggling protein molecules, there are millions upon millions of watts being sucked out of wall outlets all over the world–outlets that connect back to power plants that burn fossil fuels and split atoms. These people point out that even if your computer was going to be on anyway, the Folding application requires enough resources to keep it from ever going into a low-power idle state. Thus, by striving to understand diseases, we may be dumping more junk into the environment that causes them in the first place. And thus the dilemma: how can we fold to save lives without hurting the planet in which we live? This brings me to the point of this blog: computational efficiency. On these pages we will discuss how to contribute to F@H as efficiently and as cleanly as possible, as well as general environmental tips to help offset one’s F@H carbon footprint and ease that guilty conscience. If you become a contributor who decides to implement the principles of this blog, you can defend your reasons along these lines:
1. I want to help people
2. I am the Overlord of Geeks. Bow to me, geeklings!
3. I love you, Earth! Come here, let me give you a hug! Or at least let me put away this big mallet I’ve been beating you with and replace it with a smaller tack hammer…
I expect this blog will ruffle some feathers. If you are one of those people running the F@H uniprocessor client on your laptop 24/7, allow me to pause and glare at you through your monitor for a moment. <glare> 😦 </glare>. OK, done glaring. First, thank you for supporting your fellow human beings. Now, do yourself and your earth a favor and stop that F@H client right now! I’m going to show you how to make a real difference in a way that won’t break the bank and won’t kill your puny laptop with excessive heat. No longer will you settle for the 500, or even the 5000 Points Per Day (PPD) that you’re getting now. We’re shooting for 100k PPD or more! By not running F@H on old slow computers, making minimal use of the standard uniprocessor client, and finally building a dedicated F@H Rig, you can punch cancer in the face with a much bigger fist. You’ll also cause less overall environmental impact for the amount of cancer curing being done. Welcome to Green Folding@Home, home of team Nuclear Wessels (Team ID 54345, the greenest Rigs in the fleet!). I’m Chris (_QC_Paragon on the leader boards), and I’m going to show you the many ways to make a lean green Folding machine!