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spam for a good cause: COVID-19 research on your FPGA workstation


Posted (edited)


most people working with FPGAs will have a reasonably capable PC under their desk. You can make that CPU power available for COVID-19 research when it sits idle through [email protected].

The project has apparently been around for many years doing protein research. A summary is here.

I found that on Windows, installation is pretty straightforward:

  • Install BOINC
  • create an account
  • Start BOINC and select [email protected]
  • It can be configured in many ways e.g. set it to use CPU power only if the machine has been idle for a minute. I leave it running at 100 % in the background and don't notice any obvious slowdown.

From the few hours I've spent on the topic I got the impression that my old (but water-cooled and diligently overclocked) desktop still outclasses the other hardware I've tried: The newer laptop has good burst performance but goes into thermal throttling after a few seconds. ARM-based Android devices were far off, they probably have better power efficiency but lack  the memory bandwidth (e.g. I see ~10 GB for 12 threads plus 2GB storage).

So take this as a motivational speech that your FPGA design rig could be a valuable contributor. About one day of uptime got me on position 392.924 of the [email protected] worldwide ranking and I hope this post will motivate many of you to beat this 🙂



Edited by xc6lx45
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