Folding@home Gains Raspberry Pi And Android Arm64 Support For COVID-19 Research

Raspberry Pi
Scientists and researchers are hard at work trying to fully understand the deadly COVID-19 virus and slow its spread, as well as develop a vaccine. You don't have to be a scientist to help in the effort, though. Distributed computing projects like Folding@home and Rosetta@home have both joined in the fight against the virus, and both have gained support for 64-bit ARM through Neocortix's mobile app.

I had never heard of Neocortix before today, but the outfit offers a distributed computing app for smartphones, called PhonePaycheck. What it does is tap into idle processing cycles to work on projects, and in exchange, users can earn a little bit of money.

According to Neocortix, top earners can collect around $80 per year for running the app while it charges for eight hours per night, or $240 per year for a spare phone that is continuously plugged in and charging. That works out to $320 per year for a main phone and a spare, provided they are relatively modern handsets (like a Galaxy S9 or newer).

"We built Folding@home and Rosetta@home for Arm-based devices to enable billions of high-performance mobile devices to work on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine," said Dr. Lloyd Watts, founder and CEO of Neocortix. "We saw an opportunity to leverage our Neocortix Cloud Services platform to help meet the distributed computing needs of the most pressing academic research workloads, at enormous scale."

This is potentially a big deal. It opens up the door to using billions of Android phones and ARM-based servers and IoT devices to help find a vaccine for COVID-19, as well as Raspberry Pi devices. As such, both Folding@home and Rosetta@home are now available to user of the Neocortix Scalable Compute Instances, which run secure ARM Linux containers on the Neocortix network of Android handsets.

ARM celebrated the announcement as well.

"As we head towards a world of a trillion connected devices, developer innovation is helping to tackle some of the world's most complex challenges from the endpoint and edge to the cloud," said Paul Williamson, vice president and general manager, Client Line of Business at ARM. "Arm's collaboration with Neocortix means that Arm-based technology can contribute spare compute capacity to critical COVID-19 research and it's incredible to see Arm's global developer ecosystem come together to support this effort."

Good stuff, and hopefully this leads to tangible results in the fight against COVID-19.