As those familiar with Folding@home (FAH) know, we’ve developed FAH to help simulate protein folding so that we can better understand how proteins get misfolded and cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and many cancers. Better understanding protein misfolding allows designing drugs and therapies to combat these illnesses.
We have been working on ways to push FAH forward and have recently used a new technology provided by Google called Portable Native Client (PNaCl) to bring this folding application to the Web (via the Chrome browser ), so more people can contribute their computing power to solving this key problem.
For those interested in the technical details, Portable Native Client takes high-performance native code that uses a device’s full hardware capabilities and runs it in a browser tab, SIMD and threads included. PNaCl brings applications that need that extra computing power to the Web, and allows applications initially written for desktop (in C/C++ and making use of system interfaces like POSIX) to run in a browser. This is done portably, with support for x86-32, x86-64, ARM and MIPS on Windows, ChromeOS, Mac OS X and Linux.
In addition to making it easy for people to run Folding@home by simply going to this web page (with a Chrome browser), PNaCl also allows people to help FAH by embedding FAH+PNaCl into their own web pages, which would even further contribute computer power. Our github page has instructions for how to do this. Moreover, this NaCl client code is released with an open source license on github.
Folding@Home is supported by the NIH and NSF, and already has over 200,000 active users. It has been published in over 100 papers, including work in the prestigious journals Science and Nature. Please join us in finding the cure for these diseases, one laptop at a time, now with PNaCl support at http://nacl.foldingathome.org/