To start off FAHcon2012, I gave a talk which included a review of how far Folding@home has come in the last decade. I showed a slide from the very first talk I gave about Folding@home results. That talk was given at Columbia University in August of 2000, and I talked about results from our paper in Science entitled "Screen savers of the world, unite!". That work described the folding of a very small protein (16 amino acids) on a very short timescale (10ns = 10 x 10^-9 seconds!), but still was a major accomplishment for the time.
It's exciting to see how far we've come. One way to think about it is in terms of how long of a time scale and length scale we can simulate for protein folding and protein misfolding diseases (such as Aß aggregation in Alzheimer's Disease):
Time scales: advancing roughly 1000x every 5 years
2000: 1 to 10ns (Fs peptide)
2005: 1 to 10µs (villin, Aß aggregation of 4 chains)
2010: 1 to 10ms (NTL9, Lambda repressor)
2015: 1 to 10s?
Just breaking past a microsecond was a big deal. The fact that we can simulate 10's of milliseconds is very exciting, but I'm really excited about where this appears to be leading, allowing us to tackle really challenging and important problems. It would also mean that through a combination of new methods, algorithms, and hardware advances, we've already increased our capabilities by a million fold in just 10 years (2000 to 2010). We're looking forward to hopefully making it a billion fold in 2015!
Length scales: advancing roughly 2x every 5 years
2000: 16 amino acids (Fs)
2005: 35 amino acids (villin)
2010: 80 amino acids (lambda, ACBP)
2015: 160 amino acids?
It's also important to note that these are sizes for protein folding. For other problems, such as protein conformational change, we've already tackled much bigger systems.
I'm really excited to see what the next 5 years will bring!