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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grid Computing and Charity

I bought my quad-core computer about a year ago, since I planned to use it for massive programming and/or editing (video/image) work.
However, I started to work in a 2 hours distance from home (at least with public transportation), so for a long time the computer was simply shut-down, collecting dust.
Until I decided that if I spent so much money to buy such a strong computer, at least let it do something useful. I didn't have anything useful for it, so I decided to find something online.
I remembered SETI@Home was a good way to share my computer free cycles to do something useful, but Searching for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence really didn't sound like something worth investing in.
So I looked for similar programs that I can relate to, and found World Community Grid, which is a project dealing with finding cures for cancer and AIDS, helping solve hunger problems by finding more nutritious foods, finding cleaner energy sources, etc.

Another thing I have found was, that the entire grid computing for science and personal usage subject was reformed, and the main computation management client software used is BOINC.
With BOINC you can connect to your favorite grid computing project and share your computer resources. BOINC will download work parts to run on your computer, then upload the results when they are ready. The project server than add them to one large computational task until a result is achieved. Some servers grant points for time spent on computing and results that are returned, making things a bit more competitive.

Anyone can use BOINC to perform very long computations. Scientists can apply to volunteer computing, while companies can set up a BOINC server to run grid computing within the organization.

I, anyway, is using my BOINC client at home and at work, giving all those unused cycles to help solve those important issues. The next time I'll read in the newspaper that scientists has found a new cure, and used grid computing technology, I'll know I gave my share :-)

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