How to Use Your Mac to Help the Fight Against Coronavirus

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
47,569
9,373



Folding@home is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics.

In addition to cancer, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's, Folding@home has announced that it is tackling a disease that has been dominating the headlines: COVID-19.

The project is joining researchers around the world who are working to better understand the Coronavirus to accelerate the open science effort to develop new life-saving therapies.

By downloading Folding@Home on your Mac, you can donate your unused computational resources to the Folding@home Consortium, where researchers are working to advance our understanding of the structures of potential drug targets for COVID-19 that could aid in the design of new therapies.


The following steps show you how to get started with the Mac app. Before you install the Folding@home client, be aware that it can consume a lot of CPU cycles, so depending on what you use your Mac for, you may be better off running it only during times when your Mac is otherwise idle.
  1. Open a browser tab and visit https://foldingathome.org/start-folding/.
  2. Click on fah-installer_7.5.1_x86_64.mpkg.zip link to download the Folding@Home installer.

    Run the installer and enter your admin user name and password when prompted.
  3. When the installer has completed, ignore the webpage that it opens for now, and launch the FAHControl app from the Applications/Folding@home folder.

    You'll see a prompt warning you that the client hasn't been assigned an identity. Click Fold Anonymously or Configure Identity. The latter option ensures that the points you earn will be credited to you, but you'll need to enter a username. (You can also join a team - MacRumors' Team ID is 3446.)

    To ensure your CPU cycles are contributing to COVID-19, click the Configure button, then select the Advanced tab and choose Any in the Cause Preference dropdown menu. (The project is prioritizing coronavirus among the Any category.)

    Click Save.
You can view a visual representation of the molecules your Mac is analyzing in real time by clicking the Viewer button. You can also access the web client at https://client.foldingathome.org for a better visual rendering.


Since this is a power-hungry endeavor, the Folding@home client will automatically pause whenever your Mac laptop switches to battery power. You can control this setting in Configure -> Advanced -> Power.

Article Link: How to Use Your Mac to Help the Fight Against Coronavirus
 
Last edited:

neoelectronaut

macrumors 68030
Dec 3, 2003
2,981
997
Southeastern Louisiana
is this one of those 'apps' censored by Apple for IOS and now found a way around?
Folding@Home is only available for macOS, not iOS.
- - Post merged: - -

I wonder how useful this actually is (serious question)
"Since its launch on 1 October 2000, the Pande Lab has produced 212 scientific research papers as a direct result of Folding@home."

 

yaxomoxay

macrumors 601
Mar 3, 2010
4,077
26,337
Texas
I wish they could do this for the AppleTV - with a nice "screensaver".
- - Post merged: - -

I wonder how useful this actually is (serious question)
My understanding is that these things are quite useful. Will they solve all of our problems? No. Will they help us find aliens as the good 'ol SETI@Home (man, I loved it!), probably not. However, they will certainly help in reducing computing expenses and they will also help in lowering calculation times.
 

neoelectronaut

macrumors 68030
Dec 3, 2003
2,981
997
Southeastern Louisiana
I wish they could do this for the AppleTV - with a nice "screensaver".
An admirable idea and considering the graphical performance built into Apple's chips these days it'd probably do fairly well, but a major concern for me would be cooling. Folding@Home is generally decided to use 100% of your CPU & GPU unless you purposely scale it back. Would the Apple TV's lifespan be affected in any way by being under 100% load for long stretches of time?
 

yaxomoxay

macrumors 601
Mar 3, 2010
4,077
26,337
Texas
An admirable idea and considering the graphical performance built into Apple's chips these days it'd probably do fairly well, but a major concern for me would be cooling. Folding@Home is generally decided to use 100% of your CPU & GPU unless you purposely scale it back. Would the Apple TV's lifespan be affected in any way by being under 100% load for long stretches of time?
Not sure, it's a good question. I think that if we could scale it back to 10-25% CPU on all the independent devices (AppleTV, HomePods, Alexa, Xbox etc) they could probably gain lots of compound computing power due to the elevated number of devices across the globe.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigMcGuire and jjm3

warp9

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2017
210
245
I installed this a few days ago on both a mac and pc. Neither machine would pick up the covid19 project and instead resorted to a random cancer project or something. Since you can't force it to choose covid19, it's just luck of the draw.
 

BigMcGuire

Contributor
Jan 10, 2012
5,059
6,247
California
I used to be heavily involved in WCG back in the day. I did it for years. What got me was when they started utilizing GPUS and my GPU outdid in a few months what my desktop crunched for like 4-5 years. I ran it on a custom built PC with a MASSIVE heatsink (didn't even need a CPU fan).

I just remember taking off the stock heatsink on that intel CPU and seeing a tiny bit of thermal paste covering not even 40% of the CPU. After reapplying thermal paste and putting on a cool master heatsink (massive) - the CPU ran almost 30C cooler if I remember right.

Now, with thinner MacBooks I don't know if I'd run this on a MBP or MBA... but an iMac or Mac mini? Definitely.

World Community Grid is another good one - these things are helping people. I don't pretend to understand because I'm a programmer but, it seems to help medical researchers narrow down solutions significantly.


I wonder these things work with an EGPU?
 

brentsg

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2008
3,434
802
I wonder how useful this actually is (serious question)
Their Twitter account details how they are using it now, but they are doing 2 things (paraphrase):
1) Studying how the contagion achieves viral entry so they can develop means to interfere
2) Developing molecules that will interfere with the viral life cycle

Seems useful to me.

I installed this a few days ago on both a mac and pc. Neither machine would pick up the covid19 project and instead resorted to a random cancer project or something. Since you can't force it to choose covid19, it's just luck of the draw.
I don't think they even had COVID-19 projects available to the public until yesterday (or so). They also confirmed that COVID-19 is the top priority in terms of scheduling so it should be more than luck.
 
Last edited:

warp9

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2017
210
245
I don't think they even had COVID-19 projects available to the public until yesterday (or so). They also confirmed that COVID-19 is the top priority in terms of scheduling so it should be more than luck.
Perhaps, but as of about 3 or 4 days ago, they were telling people to download it to fight covid19 when it wasn't even available. It just seemed like a dishonest way to get people to download. They should have waited until the work units were ready.
 

brentsg

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2008
3,434
802
Perhaps, but as of about 3 or 4 days ago, they were telling people to download it to fight covid19 when it wasn't even available. It just seemed like a dishonest way to get people to download. They should have waited until the work units were ready.
They are fighting against time so I am sure they wanted as many resources available when the work units hit. I'm just taking my estimate from when they posted Twitter updates.

Regardless, if your resources are being used to work toward cures for cancer or similar is that a bad thing? It feels like you are looking for something bad here. I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep if my electricity is used toward cancer or Alzheimer's instead.

I'm sure a drop-down for COVID-19 will be added if it's still relevant when they do the next client updates. I would much rather they invest their resources in getting the work units prepped and interpreted rather than mess with a round of client updates for a drop-down.

Detailed update here: https://foldingathome.org/2020/03/10/covid19-update/
 
Last edited:

simonmet

macrumors 68020
Sep 9, 2012
2,258
3,049
Sydney
Article should state whether this is unequivocally a 100% not-for-profit project. In other words, are any of the beneficiaries big-pharma corporations who run medication cartels and try to copyright the human genome? I’m not donating anything to those blood suckers.

I hope not, but one can’t just assume anything these days.
 

BigMcGuire

Contributor
Jan 10, 2012
5,059
6,247
California
DON'T INSTALL IT. YOU CANNOT UNINSTALL IT. it keeps running in the background using all your cpus
I've installed and uninstalled folding@home and BOINC many times...


"You can download the current installer.
When you get to the install pane, click Customize and deselect everything except Uninstaller.
The uninstaller should then be in /Applications/Folding@home/."

Try this?
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.