Volunteering Your Computer Processor Power to Research Projects

Introduction

What can you do with your computer idle time? Can you utilise the electrical energy for something else more useful? Yes, you can! I have been involved in volunteer computing for more than one year to various research projects and I feel that it is worth doing it.

How I discovered BOINC

BOINC official website I discovered BOINC website through freeexampapers.com on 15 September 2009. I remembered I clicked through a small link at the bottom of that page and was immediately directed to a download page. I was astonished by the idea of helping scientific research by donating your computer processing time. I downloaded the BOINC programme and was given various projects to choose.

About BOINC Manager

Download BOINC software The BOINC Manager software is user-friendly. It has a simple and an advanced view. I normally choose the advanced view so that I can view the detailed statistics of my processed work units and the credits earned. Such credits only give an acknowledgement of your contribution but I also feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction after I watched the growing credits every time. Once you downloaded a work unit, you virtually do not need to connect to the internet during processing until your completed work is ready for upload back to the server. You can also choose your preferences so that the processing will not interfere with your work on the computer.

malariacontrol.net

malaricontrol.net official website I spotted the malariacontrol.net as my first BOINC project. This project aim is to a model of epidemiological distribution of Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that cause malaria in Africa. I was so enthusiastic about the project and I wish I could process more work units. Since I have only a limited processing power for my computer (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.66 GHz), I can only process one project at a time, so I had to choose the project that I feel more important than anything else. I have chosen this project instead of other projects such as climate change, alternative energy, or even the study of the origin of the universe because I have a perception that the general health of humanity is more important than anything else. Usually, one work unit from these projects takes up to 1 to 7 hours of time and its dateline is 3 days starting from the instant your computer downloaded the work unit.

This dateline can be quite rush for me because I normally turn on my computer only when I am busy with my assignments or to search for materials for my presentation. Sometimes, when I am free I tend to watch movies and to play computer games. With this BOINC programme run in the background, my movies or games will be lagging. I have to suspend the ongoing BOINC tasks in order to guarantee a smooth run for movies and games. Normally, I will leave my computer on over the night to finish the BOINC tasks.

Now, I seldom involve in this project anymore because of its short dateline and I am getting busier every day after I started to attend my university. So far I have donated about 15 days of runtime to this project.

World Community Grid

World Community Grid official website Two days after I open my very first malariacontrol.net account, I found a better project called World Community Grid. It is a computer grid sponsored by IBM where it hosts far more projects than malariacontrol.net. Some of these projects included dengue drugs discovery, clean energy project, muscular dystrophy, cancers, AIDS and lots more. All these projects have a 7 day dateline, far longer than the malaricontrol.net. I chose all of them. I let the BOINC programme to decide which project to be downloaded every time. I donated 109 days of processing time to this project. These projects also have a system of badges awarded to you once you reached a specified runtime.

Among the projects already completed by this computer grid are Influenza Antiviral drug searches, Human proteome folding stage I, dengue drugs discovery stage I, muscular dystrophy stage I and others. News update of from this site is also a factor for keeping my number crunching (work units processing) going. You can find the World Community Grid in the news here. The screen saver graphics from World Community Grid depicts the current status of your computer processing on that particular work unit. I am always interested in the drugs discovery screen saver especially for AIDS.
Complications

However, devoting your computer to the projects will make your computer processor occupied most of the time. Your computer can become very hot and you may need a cooler for this. One of my friends said that utilizing the processor most of the time may damage the processor. However, I’m unsure about this because my computer still in good condition after 1 year involving in this project.

Conclusion

I think that contributing to these projects will be another form of charity. By joining BOINC, you can help to contribute to the scientific community from the comfort of your home. You can make a difference to the scientific community by reducing their time and money needed to process these data for every minute you contributed. The combined processing power of all the computers under BOINC is now 5.4 peta flops, far greater than the now world’s fastest supercomputer Tianhe-I, which is 2.5 peta flops.

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