Core 17 update, video, and reddit live Q&A

We’ve updated Core 17 with OpenMM 5.1, so checkout the release video for more info:


A live Q&A is available on reddit.

Some of the key highlights are:
-Up to 120,000 PPD on GTX Titan, and 110,000 PPD on HD 7970
-Support for more diverse simulations
-Linux support on NVIDIA cards and 64bit OSes
-FAHBench updated to use the latest OpenMM and display version information

Full Transcript of the Talk:

Hi I’m Yutong, I’m a GPU core developer here at Folding@home. Today I want to give you guys an update on what we’ve been working on over the past few months. Let’s take a look at the three major components of GPU core development. First off, we have OpenMM, our open source library for MD simulations. It’s used by both FAHBench and Core17. FAHBench is our official benchmarking tool for GPUs, and it supports all OpenCL compatible devices. We’re very happy to tell you guys that it’s been recently added to Anandtech’s GPU test suite. And Core17 is what your Folding@home clients use to do science. By the way, all those arrows just mean that the entire development process is interconnected.

So let’s take a step back in time.

Last year in October, we conceived Core 17. And we had three major goals in mind. We wanted a core that was going to be faster, more stable, and to be able to support more types of simulations than just implicit solvent. But because of how our old core 15 and 16 was written, it was in fact easier for us to write the core from scratch.

So in November, we started rewriting some of the key parts to replace some pre-existing functionality. Over two months, in January, things started to come together. Our work server, assignment server, and client was modified to support Core 17. We also started an internal test team, for the first time ever, using an IRC channel on freenode to provide real-time testing feedback.

In February, Core17 had a public Beta of over 1000 GPUs. And We learnt a lot of valuable things. One of them was that the core wasn’t all that much faster it seems on NVIDIA. Though on AMD things certainly looked brighter. Things still crashed occasionally, and bugs were certainly still present. So we went back to the drawing board to improve the core.

In April, we added a lot of new optimizations and bug fixes to OpenMM. We tested a linux core for the first time ever on GPUs. And our internal testing team had grown to over 30 people. And that brings us to today.

We now support many more types of simulations, ranging from explicit solvent to large systems of up to 100,000 atoms. We improved the stability of our cores. We now have a sustainable code base. We added support for linux for the first time. It’s also really fast – so I’m sure the burning question on your mind is, just how fast is it? Well let’s take a look. On the GTX Titan we saw it from 50,000 points per day to over 120,000 points per day. On the GTX 680, we saw it go from 30,000 points per day to over 80,000 points per day. On the AMD HD 7970, we saw it from 10,000 points per day to over 110,000 points per day. On the AMD HD 7870 we saw it jump from 5,000 points per day to over 50,000 points per day.

We never want to rest on our laurels for too long. We are already planning support for more Intel devices in the future, such as the i7s, integrated graphics cards, and Xeon Phis. We plan to add more projects to Folding@home as time goes on, so researchers within our group can investigate more systems of interest. And as always, we want things to be faster.

Now let’s go back to the beginning again, and here’s you guys can help us. If you’re a programmer, we invite you to contribute to the open source OpenMM project (available on github at the end of the month on If you’re an enthusiast and like to build state-of the-art computers, we encourage you to run FAHBench and join our internal testing team on freenode. If you’re a donor, we’d like you guys to help us spread the word about Folding@home and bring more people, and their machines of course. Now before I wrap things up, there are some people I’d like to thank. Our internal testers are on the right hand side, and they’ve been instrumental in providing me with real time feedback regarding our tests. We couldn’t have done it this fast without them. On the left hand side, are people within the Pande Group, Joseph and Peter are also programmers like me. Diwakar and TJ helped set up many of our projects. Christian and Robert have always been there for support and feedback.

But wait, one last thing. This week, I’ll be doing a Questions and Answers session on reddit at So if you’ve got questions, come drop by and hang out with us. Thanks, and bye-bye.