The use of supercomputers against COVID-19 is a fundamental weapon for the development of effective treatments and the vaccine with which to definitively control the pandemic. There are multiple projects underway around the world including those that employ distributed computing, with two notable developments, the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium and the largest of all, Folding @ home.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is contributing to the fight against COVID-19 by donating computer resources. And not a few considering its potential since it is collaborating with 10,000 processing cores to Folding @ home. And this only from its headquarters, since the total including the equipment of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) amounts to 30,000 nuclei.

Supercomputers against COVID-19

Folding @ home is a distributed computing project that has been used for more than twenty years to search for extraterrestrial life (and others) and that now has a specific section to help against the new coronavirus. The idea is the same. We give up part of the resources of our PCs when we are not using it and we put it at the service of researchers and scientists, along with the rest of the users who participate.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the Folding @ project has seen an increase of more than 1,200% in the number of folders. The maximum collective computing power of the distributed system is simply beastly: almost 2.5 exaFLOPS. To put the data in perspective, it exceeds the combined power of the top-500 supercomputers.

This computing power is being used to improve understanding of the internal structure of the coronavirus. Computer simulations need great computing power and play an important role in protein sequencing to determine how the three-dimensional structure changes. This can reveal target sites where potential drugs can be used to attack the protein, effectively inoculating the virus.

In case you want to collaborate, Folding @ home has clients to use directly on machines with Windows, Mac or Linux, and VMware It has also created an application to run it from a virtual machine. We will not achieve the power of CERN, but we are many millions.

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