BOINC, not boink!
BOINC is an acronym for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Simply stated, anybody can hook any computer to the network and process work. In effect, it becomes a giant, distributed supercomputer. There are currently 7.5 million computers around the world hooked to BOINC. It’s also known as Grid Computing
So why would you do this? What is this giant supercomputer trying to accomplish?
BOINC projects are non-profit scientific research projects covering a variety of areas. You may be familiar with Seti@Home or the search for extraterrestrial life using the Arecibo telescope array. Some may know of the term protein folding which is the running of simulations looking for protein reactions that may lead the way to curing disease. There are climate prediction, stellar searching, earthquake monitoring, chemistry, quantum theory, pure mathematics, encryption algorithm, and a host of other simulations and high computer processing projects.
I am donating computer time and an energy bill to scientific research. I currently run two desktop systems, one being my main computer, and they run only when I’m not using my system. I’m typing at the moment so these six cores are sitting idle, but three minutes after I leave for a coffee, they’ll all kick in at 100% and start crunching World Community Grid, Seti, QMC, and Mind Modelling projects. My video card will also crunch some Moo! Wrapper math jobs:
Basically we are trying to determine the minimum key size needed to keep secrets encrypted with the RC5 algorithm safe even in the future. Secret messages used came from a challenge set by RSA Labs in 1997. One of the projects that participate in the search is the RC5 project of distributed.net, which is using the brute force method.
I don’t know exactly what it’s doing, but it may very well help us all be safe on this crazy internet sometime down the road.
All of these projects cannot be done with purchased computers. They use too many resources to have any hope of being able to fund such acquisitions. The World Commuity Grid (which piggy backs on BOINC) this week passed the 1 billion mark for jobs returned. My 6 core box has five WCG jobs downloaded that run between 37 minutes and 4.5 hours each. Volunteers — people like you and me — have donated almost 622,000 years of computing time. That’s like having a room full of 622,000 computers for one year at your disposal.
Has any good come from it? I suppose so, but participants don’t do this for major breakthroughs. We are all geeks, and we know that if you put enough geek’s computers together, eventually good stuff will happen. We are expanding our knowledge of proteins, outer space, climate modelling, and more every day.
I am not a scientist, but I like science, I follow science, and I want to help any way I can. I can donate my computer time, and I believe it helps.
What are you doing to help your planet today?
*I prefer using a manager such as BOINCStats. They have all the information you need to get started.
*Join a team. It’s fun to work together. I’m a member of Team Canada. I am currently ranked 2173rd on the planet and am in the top 99.9 percentile.