In Memory of Kimsey M. Fowler, Sr.

"Mac" Fowler at Galapagos Islands, July 1999
Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases are all similar in that they are neurological disorders caused by misfolded proteins. My father died January 2012 of Parkinson's after a decade of struggle. Had he been well his retirement would have been spent contributing to community service activities and sharing his time with friends and family. Rather than being a productive member of society he became a burden to those who cared for him and the taxpayers who contribute to Medicare. Finding a treatment for these three diseases will free a huge burden from those afflicted and their caregivers and reduce the overall cost of healthcare. We can all help by donating our unused computer processing time to protein folding projects.
This computer was built with money from a small life insurance policy my dad's mother bought for him when he was just a boy some 70 years ago. It's one of several really fast computers I've built to support the protein research projects Rosetta@Home at the University of Washington and Folding@Home at Stanford Medical School.

You probably expected a fancy machine with all the bells and whistles, but this one doesn't even have a CD/DVD drive. I started with an "antique computer" purchased from the Goodwill store in Tukwila, WA for $10. The monitor came from the old Boeing Surplus store in Kent, WA that closed years ago, and the mouse and keyboard are from a PC recycle center. The computer needed upgrading to do folding. I started by replacing the motherboard and CPU, then installed a high-efficiency power supply to run 24/7, added a few extra fans, water-cooling, and a solid state hard drive. The floppy drive was preserved for nostalgic appeal in the original case manufactured in 1996 by the now-defunct Micron MPC Computer Corporation. The sticker on the case shows it was originally built for Windows 95, but the software has been upgraded a few notches to Win 7/64-bit.

Standard clock speed for the Intel i7-3930K processor is 3.2 GHz. This one is overclocked to 4.7 GHz causing it to generate a bunch of extra heat. Hence a liquid cooling system was used with the radiator mounted off the top of the case blowing forward. The front and rear fans have been turned to blow into the case to cool the VCORE above the CPU. A 3-inch hole was cut into the right side panel of the machine directly underneath the CPU. The fan mounted there cools the bottom of the motherboard as well as the bottom of the CPU that is exposed though a hole in the motherboard. It's positioned to blow outwards. With this cooling configuration the CPU is at 42°C/108°F running all 12 threads at 100%, and the VCORE is at 58°C/136°F when the ambient temperature is 20°C/68°F.

There wasn't room for the rear fan inside the case so it was moved to the outside. An inexpensive graphics card and old monitor were used since the monitor is left OFF most of the time.

A piece of stainless steel found in the shop was bolted to the top of case to support the radiator and its cooling fans. The fan mounted on the right side of the case cools the bottom of the motherboard and CPU.

It's not beautiful, but it's a practical design and incredibly fast! The entire project cost just under $1500.

Designed for Windows 95...