Sector67′s Rosetta@Home Effort Update
A milestone was reached on Tuesday, November 15, as Sector67 member Dougal processed enough Rosetta@Home work units to achieve one million earned credits in the BOINC distributed computing system. The goal was to reach 1M by 1/1/12. It took just over a year of constant processing by numerous CPUs (including some cloud computing resources) to reach this somewhat arbitrary benchmark. On Tuesday, a small pizza party was held to commemorate this achievement. Sector67 has been host to a number of participating computers over the year, which has been keeping the loft nice and toasty. Computers in the back lab also participate when they are powered on but idle. This is the strange looking screen saver you might have noticed before. This was also how we unexpectedly encountered the limit of our computer lab’s circuit breaker.
Rosetta@Home is a distributed computing project for protein structure prediction, run by the Baker Laboratory at the University of Washington. The project aims to predict protein–protein docking and design new proteins with the help of about sixty thousand active volunteered computers processing at 62 teraFLOPS on average as of October 18, 2011. Rosetta@Home consistently ranks among the foremost docking predictors, and is one of the best tertiary protein structure predictors available.
Rosetta uses idle computer processing resources from volunteers’ computers to perform calculations on individual workunits. Completed results are sent to a central project server where they are validated and assimilated into project databases. The project is cross-platform, and runs on a wide variety of hardware configurations.
In addition to basic research in predicting human protein structure, docking, and design, Rosetta@Home is also used in immediate disease-related research. Understanding protein structures will facilitate the creation of smart drugs to combat ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, Anthrax, Herpes, HIV, and Malaria. Participants who predict protein structures are acknowledged in scientific publications regarding their results.
Users can join “teams,” which tally the total credits earned by all the team members. I am presently a member of the UW-Madison team, but if there is interest from other members in participating in the project, we would love to create a Sector67 team and crunch with you. You can get started by downloading BOINC and attaching Rosetta@home as your project.
Contact Dougal at dougal [at] uwalumni.com if you’re interested in organizing a team.