The fight against COVID-19 is being fought in hospitals and laboratories around the world, but a further important contribution can be made by donating computing power.
On the fifth floor of LaLiga’s headquarters in Madrid, a ‘supercomputer’ that is usually used to fight audiovisual piracy is now being used to help global research teams defeat the virus. Offering more than 4,000 times the power of a regular computer, it is accelerating a worldwide effort to identify the characteristics of COVID-19 and stop its spread.
Specifically, LaLiga has partnered with Folding@Home, a worldwide computing project that brings together citizen scientists who run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers.
With experience studying diseases from Ebola to cancer to Alzheimer’s, their expertise is naturally being used help with the current pandemic and their software has been installed on LaLiga’s supercomputer for researchers to use.
“To help tackle coronavirus, we want to understand how viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them,” Folding@Home explain. “Helping us run simulations is the primary way to contribute. Each simulation you run is like buying a lottery ticket. The more tickets we buy, the better our chances of hitting the jackpot.”
With LaLiga’s ‘supercomputer’, the effect is equivalent to 4,000 new volunteers signing up at once. The league’s Technological Protection of Content Department monitors countless global feeds to identify audiovisual piracy, thanks to the high level of computing power it possesses. This same power has now been offered to help Folding@Home achieve its objectives.
“Since this pandemic began we have looked for different ways to help overcome the virus; partnering with Folding@Home was a clear way for us to contribute,” explained Emilio Fernández, the head of LaLiga’s Technological Protection of Content Department.
By making use of LaLiga’s resources, the Folding@Home team can dramatically increase the processing speed to run its simulations and increase the chances of generating new findings.
The Technological Protection of Content Department is a collection of technical experts that has always looked to share its resources. In its efforts to remove piracy from football, its various tools have been shared with governments or sporting competitions, while its computing power has also been used to support cancer research. With global competitions currently postponed due to the pandemic, all this energy is currently being focused on tackling COVID-19.
“Folding@Home is a clear example of how technology tools can be used to improve global collaboration and create change,” Fernández added. “We will continue to offer our support to help power this initiative.”