As we approach the holiday season, the fantastic community team that’s responsible for keeping tabs on our publisher’s technology forums – the AnandTech Forums and the Tom’s Hardware Forums – came to us with a request. They wanted to organize a community activity; something fun, something for charity and, most importantly, something immensely geeky. To that end, I’m happy to announce that we’re going to be holding a friendly vicious contest with our compatriots and competitors at Tom’s Hardware in order to answer one of the most important questions of all time: which site is better, AnandTech or Tom’s Hardware?

Starting December 1st, a contest is going to be held between the AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware forums to determine whose forum and whose community was better. And better still, it will be done for charity. As part of the contest, our publisher, Purch, will be furnishing a $2,500 donation to the Child’s Play charity, which will be made on behalf of the winning team.

As for the contest itself, it seemed only appropriate given the two sites’ history that the challenge be computing related, so we decided to compete in the field of distributed computing. What we settled on is to hold a race of sorts using the popular Folding@Home client.

In a nutshell, Folding@Home is a long-standing distributed computing project organized by Stanford University that allows individuals to contribute computing time to Stanford’s research. This in turn helps the researchers in combating the illnesses that emerge as a result of proteins not folding correctly, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. Folding@Home has now been going on for over a decade and a half. And along with a long-standing AnandTech folding team, we’ve even used it in GPU benchmarks for a few years now.

Kicking off on December 1st, we will be holding a one-week Folding race to see which team is better. The more computer time donated to Folding@Home – the more protein folding work completed – the more points a team will score, with the highest scoring team being crowned the winner.

AnandTech of course is no slouch when it comes to distributed computing. Our team, the aptly named Team AnandTech, has been at it since late 1998, which is almost as long as AnandTech has operated. Among its notable accomplishments is beating the likes of the Macintosh evangelists, Slashdot,, and more across over a dozen distributed computing projects ranging from computer science to biology to hunting for alien signals.

Meanwhile for reasons beyond my understanding, my colleague over at Tom's Hardware, Fritz Nelson, decided to take us on despite the fact that this is practically a home field advantage for Team AnandTech. Suffice it to say, Tom’s Hardware doesn't have team members with the experience or the dedication of Team AnandTech; in other words, they don't stand a chance. And with your help, I want to prove that while adding Tom’s to the list of teams that Team AnandTech has defeated. If nothing else, think of it as doing a favor for Tom's Hardware: after we've burned them in this race, they'll finally be able to put their thermal imaging camera to good use.

Ultimately this race is for fun, but it’s also for a good cause. Donating computing time to Folding@Home helps researchers to better understand folding-related diseases, and the $2,500 that our publisher is putting up as part of this contest is going to a wonderful cause that is the appropriately geeky Child’s Play charity. As a result I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in December.

The full details on the contest, including how to download the Folding@Home client and join Team AnandTech, our distributed computing team, can be found here. And be sure to drop on by our distributed computing forum and say hello; the team captain is keeping track of how many people sign up, and it's the best place to go to connect with the other team members and to get answers to any questions.

Source: AnandTech Distributed Computing

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  • Pix2Go - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Perfect time of the year for this contest - all those GPUs running at 100% 24/7 will help keep your house warm!
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Totally what I was thinking as I was reading the article! Which, by the way, was amusingly written. :)
  • StevoLincolnite - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    ...You obviously don't live in Australia. :P #SummerIsComing
  • ddriver - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    I have a couple of questions to "folding enthusiasts":

    1 - how transparent is this process, is there any way to tell that you are indeed folding proteins to cure diseases, or say computing the advancement of a biological weapon?

    2 - has the initiative made any breakthrough, has it cured anything yet?
  • tabascosauz - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    F@H is run by a group at Stanford, if I'm not mistaken.

    1. When you embark on a new project, you can use the number of the project to look it up online. It corresponds to a specific researcher and his or her project. You can then read about it (some keep it short, some give a comprehensive run-down of what they do). No, there's no guarantee that it will be for a biological weapon. But I think it's pretty certain that these researchers aren't taking time and resources (and income) out of their research to advance such a nefarious cause.

    2. F@H has provided valuable data for understanding and solutions for certain diseases and conditions. It's like your computer; it isn't doing absolutely essential work 24/7. It spends a good chunk of its time idle. F@H gather as much data as it can, then researchers decide what to do with it. Perhaps a specific project will be fruitless. Perhaps data from it will be pioneer work in finding a cure for Alzheimers. That depends on what the men and women behind the projects do with it.

    I'm pretty sure the website has a list of things that F@H data has contributed to. Go have a look.
  • ddriver - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    "or say" was supposed to be "and not say" actually.

    "F@H gather as much data as it can, then researchers decide what to do with it"

    Possibly, biological weapons. Or maybe they will see the potential for such, and just ignore it, rather than sell it to the highest bidder?

    To my understanding of modern scientific research, the process is not really "we are gonna cure X" and work strictly in that direction, modern research is in reality a brute force arbitrary direction approach, combing the sand for something interesting, with further applications potentially years in the future. It is not an "opening the right door" approach, but an "let's pay enough people to open all the doors and see what we have there".

    I am also aware that practically all of the most dangerous weapons ever researched were done by scientists in research institutes. A substantial part of which by US research institutes. Have researchers at stanford taken an oath or something, that would in any way prevent them from using the results to develop a biological weapon? Maybe they are searching for a cure to alzheimers, which may well involve finding the cause mechanism of alzheimers, thus making it possible to make a biological weapon that causes alzheimers, which may then be used on a nation deemed a "threat to US national security". Are there any safeguards against that?
  • MajGenRelativity - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    I understand where you are coming from. But, following your line of reasoning, why have biologists at all? Their research may also lead to bio weapons by doing their job!
  • ddriver - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Well, that's the reality of the situation, but my concern is not if they develop biological weapons, but if they are developing biological weapons with my help.
  • Communism - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    The only reason medical advancements happen in European style (Which includes close European colonies, like the US) research systems are for the use in war.

    The crumbs that have actually been used for anything other than war-fighting were researched by taking "folk medicine" and then patenting the process of manufacturing and producing maintenance medication to have people in mandatory subscription services ideally for the rest of their lives.

    Only a fool would think that any research funded directly by state funds like the Stanford F@H project will be used for anything other than primarily war-fighting purposes and secondarily as corrupt kickbacks to the pharmaceutical patent industry as a sort of free research funds for furthering of their patented mandatory subscription services.
  • K_Space - Sunday, November 20, 2016 - link

    Medical research which directly involve patients/participants will -or rather should- have ethic committee approval. Following that any patient/participant who sign up to such research will have their informed consent taken (usually written and signed) following discussion with the researchers overseeing the project. It's on that basis that Facebook was deemed guilty when conducting their "emotional manipulation study", as users were in effect direct participants. Link:
    As we are volunteers who are indirectly helping with projects, our contribution does not -seem- to require the same degree of strict regulations as with direct participants. Should that be the case? “direct participants” often contribute physical samples, take drugs, but sometimes it is simply a clinical history or contribute with mouse clicks (for example visual tests, brain testing), sometimes it is even more subtle: a thought process during functional MRI?.... we as volunteers contribute CPU time/money, etc. Where should the line be drawn?

    However even if the researchers do redirect contributors to a web page where strict ground rules for the use of data are laid and we tick: yes please.... is that a sufficient guarantee that they won't use the data for nefarious reasons?

    People in this regard arguably fall into three categories: I) those who trust the researchers and a verbal, implied consensual agreement is as good as a written one II) those who do not trust the verbal, implied or written agreements from researchers III) those who trust a written consent but not a verbal, implied consensual agreement.

    The latter group is as valid the previous two, but perhaps it is small enough for online research to ignore, after all it is all voluntary.

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