Imagine if the compute power of all the world’s estimated 3.5 billion smartphones were simultaneously crunching away to search for a cure for the coronavirus. Today, that’s at least theoretically possible as the Rosetta@Home project announced that is has enabled COVID-fighting research to run on Arm64 devices, which means you can now help researchers find a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus on both Raspberry Pi devices and your smartphone, both through the BOINC program.
The Rosetta@Home project works much like the now-famous Folding@Home project that has reached superstar status. The distributed computing program allows researchers to define massive problems used to research treatments and cures for diseases – COVID-19 in this case – that typically require supercomputer-class levels of compute to solve. The program then takes those large problems and breaks them down into smaller chunks that are crunched by volunteers on their desktop PCs, and to astonishing affect; the Folding@Home project recently passed 1.5 ExaFLOPS of compute, which is the equivalent of the raw power of the top 103 supercomputers in the world, combined.
We did notice that the program slowed down our phone’s performance considerably, but you can adjust how much system resources the program consumes, along with other variables, like assigning it to work only when the phone is connected to a charger and/or a Wi-Fi connection. That reduces the impact of the program on performance, all while still fighting the coronavirus in the background.
Raspberry Pi boards and smartphones may not come with the horsepower of the CPUs and GPUs found in desktop PCs, but they are incredibly power efficient and very numerous. In big numbers, even smaller contributions will help researchers as they race to find a cure for the coronavirus.