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Volunteering Your Computer Processor Power to Research Projects

Updated on September 29, 2015

Introduction

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

BOINC official website
BOINC official website

How I discovered BOINC

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 the website directed me to a download page. I felt that it is interesting to help scientific research by donating your computer processing time. I downloaded the BOINC programme and was given various projects to choose.

Download BOINC software
Download BOINC software

About BOINC Manager

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 serves to acknowledge your contribution. However, I also feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction after I watched the growing credits every time. Once you downloaded a work unit, you almost 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.

malaricontrol.net official website
malaricontrol.net official website

malariacontrol.net

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 think 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.

Such dateline are quite rushing for me because I only turn on my computer 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 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.

An exploration of mobile devices as grid resources: Using an Intel X86 virtual machine to run BOINC on an iPhone.
An exploration of mobile devices as grid resources: Using an Intel X86 virtual machine to run BOINC on an iPhone.

This book explores the possibility of harnessing processor powers of mobiles into a computer grid for large scale projects. Technical background on this subject is needed to understand the field of study.

 
World Community Grid official website
World Community Grid official website

World Community Grid

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 choose a suitable work unit project for downloading. 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 reason 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.

Will it damage your computer processor?

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 fan cooler for this. However, I believed that if you can keep your computer from being overheated (by using a fan cooler), it will not damage your processor. I would recommend Cooler Master for this purpose because its excellent reputation of keeping computers cool.

Conclusion

I think that contributing to these projects will be another form of charity. By joining BOINC, you can help to give to the scientific community from the comfort of your home. You can help 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 5.4 peta flops, far greater than the now world's fastest supercomputer Tianhe-I, which is 2.5 peta flops.

As of 2015, World Community Grid has completed several projects such as muscular dystrophy, Phase 2 of Dengue drugs discovery, and influenza antiviral drugs research. They have published the results of such discoveries in the public domain and would proceed to further stages of clinical trials such as lab tests or human volunteer drug tests. The altruism of world volunteers in donating their computer processing times would definitely benefit the mankind by providing cheaper pharmaceutical drugs and freedom of sharing scientific information for all without a paywall upfront.

You can follow the links below if you are interested to join this volunteer computing:

-To download the BOINC programme

-To participate in malariacontrol.net project

-To participate in World Community Grid project

What do you think about BOINC and the research projects offered?

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