In brief:

  • Hundreds of thousands of users have signed up to run Folding@Home.
  • The program uses spare computing power to run scientific models.
  • It is now targeting this power at understanding the coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of PC owners are donating their CPU power to help fight the coronavirus. Within a Reddit AMA last night, Folding@home—a distributed computing project tasked with developing therapies for disease—noted a 1,200% increase in volunteers since the coronavirus outbreak.

"We had about 30K users before the pandemic started. In the past two weeks, 400K volunteers have joined Folding@home," said Folding@home director Greg Bowman.

a visual representation of the coronavirus
Folding at Home combines computer power to help make progress on understanding the virus. Image: Shutterstock.

On February 27, Folding@home revealed their latest project: a coronavirus-centric research effort harnessing a global computer network. The project aims to use the combined computing power of thousands of people around the world to formulate pharmaceutical drugs in the combat against the coronavirus.

While some drugs have been suggested—and promoted by Elon Musk and President Trump—they have not been officially approved yet.

Also jumping into the Folding@home fray is Ethereum mining company CoreWeave. The firm redirected 6,000 mining rigs to aid its coronavirus project.

Speaking to Coindesk, CoreWeave co-founder Brian Venturo noted that the donated rigs made up a significant 0.2% of Ethereum's total hashrate, capable of generating up to 28 ETH ($4,064) per day.

"Their research had profound impacts on the development of front-line HIV defense drugs, Venturo said. "We are hoping our [computing power] will aid in the fight against coronavirus."


Bitcoiners against the coronavirus

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia also heeded the call, urging gamers around the globe to unite and donate unused processing power. CPU producer Intel quickly jumped on the bandwagon too.

As reported by Decrypt, the message soon reached the cryptocurrency community. Despite the recent crypto market cave-in—and an unquestionable loss in profitability—a spate of Bitcoin miners joined the fight against the coronavirus.

"I feel it would make Satoshi proud to know that the little community he seeded grew into something that would be brave enough to take on the monsters of this world, in more ways than one," a Bitcoin miner stated on Reddit.

If Bitcoin mining is going to seriously damage the environment, it might as well cure a pandemic while it’s at it. If you want to get involved, head over to the Folding@home site to find out how to contribute.

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