Engineering a Solution Targeting COVID-19 with Rosetta@Home

Automec, Inc., the leading CNC Manufacturing company for Press brake solutions, has volunteered their spare computing resources to contribute to the Rosetta@home project. Rosetta@Home is a distributed computing project run by the Baker Lab at the University of Washington. The project uses thousands of volunteer computers to act as a supercomputer, helping scientists in the field of biomedical research run simulations at speeds which would otherwise be impossible.

On April 23, 2020, the same day Massachusetts shuttered all nonessential businesses, Automec’s engineers were as rattled as anyone by the pandemic wreaking havoc around the world.  They were eager to find a way to help the scientific community fight COVID-19, and Rosetta@Home was their way of stepping into the ring. 

Engineer Blair Lichtenstein had a few spare servers, recently retired from a local datacenter, collecting dust in the office.  Naturally, he and Jack Manning, another Engineer, decided to put these computers to work. These machines have since been sitting in a closet for over a year, working diligently on protein folding simulations for the project. 

Jack and Blair told their friends, many of whom are employed in the IT space, to join the Automec team.  They knew they had access to some extremely fast hardware, and they did not hesitate to give Automec a hand.  The team was of a modest size, only having 10 members.  Despite this, team Automec was ascending Rosetta’s daily computing credit leader board quickly, besting teams with hundreds of members.  The team worked out that we could more than double our computing power for about two weeks using free trials on various cloud computing platforms.  A week later, we were crushing out nearly 400,000 computing credits per day—faster than 97.4% of teams in the world!

At its peak, team Automec was ranked 64th in the world for daily computing contribution—something we are very proud of.  During this time, team Automec had access to 464 processing cores developing 171 million floating point operations per second (FLOPS).  To put this into perspective, the fastest desktop computers available today can deliver approximately 30 FLOPS.

Rosetta@Home has made several meaningful contributions to the better understanding of COVID-19 in the past year. They recently posted an article on how the project has contributed to the effort to develop a vaccine for SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19).  We are thrilled to have made a meaningful contribution to the project.  We plan to continue donating these resources for the foreseeable future.

More on Rosetta@Home, click here.

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