About a fortnight ago Clansi drew my attention to a Sydney Morning Herald article about volunteer computing with BOINC. The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) allows research teams to set up projects where anyone can get their computer to help with number-crunching. One of the most famous projects is SETI@Home (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence).
The BOINC client gets computational jobs to do from the project server, and works on them when it notices that you are not using your computer. Participants all over the world create an giant distributed “super-computer”, and idle computers do something useful.
I decided to try it out, and installed the client on my laptop about a week ago. I’ve been very impressed with the way that it does its stuff in the background, and have not had it interfere with any of my computer usage. It’s even smart enough to know not to run when I’m operating on battery power!
I’m participating in the Spinhenge@home project, which is researching “nano-magnetic molecules”. This field is somewhat related to my own research.
Here is a snapshot of my statistics so far: