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Quick Tip: A use for those extra processor cycles
By: Larry O'Connor
Today's computers - especially Macs - are loaded with processing power. Most of us use but a small percentage of the processor computational cycles our systems have to offer. So consider letting some of those spare cycles get used for the common good....
Enter distributed computing and the folding@home program. This Stanford.edu project allows you to help in the quest of understanding the folding and misfolding of proteins - with results that very well might help lead to a cure for a disease, etc.
The best part is - the folding application is written so not to slow things down when you do need full processor power so to speak. I've been 'folding' for over a month now and have never noticed any difference with it operating. The application only needs to connect to the internet to download the protein to fold and to upload the completed fold results, the rest of the time - it just does its thing where the processor cycles are available to spare. Kinda neat to be a part of something like this - and it's so darn easy and painless to be a part as well.
And there is even some fun to this... At least when it comes to competition fun. Recently OWC has become the sponsor of the new MRP Talk forums. If or hopefully when you can start 'folding@home', it would be fantastic if you did so as a part of team#48057 when you first get started. Although the MacResource team is less than a month old - it's cruising right along and already is nearly in the top 8% of all the folding teams out there. Either way - this is a great cause to be a part of.
And... there is more... there are times when you may want folding to start or stop automatically. If you are playing a game or doing something that is processor intensive, disabling the application does insure you get all the performance. Also, when running on battery power with your laptop, you'd probably prefer the system run with the most power savings vs. keep the processor at full draw for the folding. I have installed and am using the application InCrease which does this automization. It is listed as beta - but this simple application has proven trouble free and easy to use, helping me have the best of all worlds for our folding contribution.
Who would have thought how easy it can be to donate the power of Mac to do some good for mankind.
See past Quick Tip topics online in the Quick Tip Archive