Measuring Folding@Home's performance impact


Can folding proteins slow you down?
— 12:00 AM on November 11, 2002

THERE ARE A FEW legitimate reasons not to run Stanford's Folding@Home client. You could be without an always-on Internet connection, or barely able to scrape together enough change to make your next utility bill payment. Heck, you may even think that searching for aliens is a better way to spend your spare CPU cycles, and that's your choice. However, some have raised questions about whether or not the Folding@Home client has an impact on overall system performance, something that could prevent individuals and especially businesses from running the client on their machines.

Of course, running the Folding@Home command line client isn't supposed to take away system resources from more important processes. The client itself is tagged with a low process priority when running in Windows, so just about any other system process should have first dibs on system resources. Folding@Home should only use CPU cycles your system would otherwise leave fallow, which means there should be no perceptible impact on performance when running the Folding client.

Despite that fact, some businesses may fear a loss of computational productivity, and gamers may want to avoid a potentially deadly drop in frame rates, just to be safe. Rather than simply trusting that Folding@Home doesn't impact system performance or assuming that running the client will slow things down, we've run the client through a gauntlet of tests to set the record straight, one way or another. Read on to find out just how much of an impact, if any, running Folding@Home will have on system performance.

   
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