by Chris S


Grid computing is “a form of distributed and parallel computing for a common goal, whereby a ‘super and virtual computer’ is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely coupled computers acting in consent to perform very large tasks.” This form of computing has been used by organizations to work on projects of a rather large scale. One common project is known as Folding@Home. This project was started by Dr. Vijay Pande from Stanford University in California. What this projects main goal is to understand the process of protein folding. The process is when a protein folds into its three-dimensional structure and when the protein does not fold correctly, diseases can be formed such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Individuals can do their part in contributing to cures for such diseases by downloading the Folding@Home program to one’s desktop computer and when running the programs will connect to a server on the Stanford campus and receive packets or “workloads” and run simulations of the folding process. Many people leave their computers running while away and this unused cpu and gpu power is wasted. The purpose of Folding@Home is to simply turn that unused pc power into something helpful.

I found this interesting because I personally have been using the program and making my contributions to the project for almost 2 years now. Until this web applications class, I didn’t really understand what grid computing was. I think it’s a very good tool for solving big projects such as protein folding, especially since it is for a good cause like searching for cures for diseases. The rapid growth of computer hardware has had a huge impact on the Folding@Home project, positively. The program has even entered the PS3 market, creating awareness in the gaming community. I can’t help but wonder what types of projects will emerge in the future that will utilize this type of technology.