Mar 2011 13

Grid Computing and BOINC

Hobbies, Software development Boinc

My BOINC Stats

I really like the idea of community computing, or grid computing..  I've always thought it was a damn good idea and I always try to leave one running. I mean think about all the wasted computer cycles that your machine could be using to do good things with when you're not around.

Especially if you set it up to be completely invisible like I do..  I never know its running because I have it setup to run only when my machine is idle, and I disable the screen saver portion of it in favor of just showing a blank screen.  Doing it this way I have generated over a hundred thousand points and turned in a lot of good results for them to chew on and I never even noticed.  Yay doing my part, by doing nothing.  Seriously it costs me nothing; why not?

The down side of my method is that it's so invisible that I didn't notice it hadn't been running for the last couple months.  I forgot to reinstall it when I formatted and reinstalled windows.  Woops.

So today I got BOINC reinstalled and set back up the way I like it and it's now chewing away at the bigger problems of life, the universe and everything.

And since some will be curious, I typically do some World Community Grid projects (Help Conquer Cancer, Human Proteome Folding, FightAIDS@Home, Genome Comparison..etc), SETI@home Einstein@home, Docking@home and the MilkyWay@home stuff.  (See the graphic above)

I have used the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) since 2004.  And I used a very scientific method for picking it; It was the first one I heard of and it was the one doing SETI@Home.  Okay not so scientific but it's served me well (or rather I have served it well) for a while and I hope it's doing some good.

Now-a-days, one of my main requirements is that they use the CPU and GPU to calculate results.   It seems right now the GPU calculation stuff is a tad underdeveloped or at least you have poor control over it.  I have two GPU's in my machine, but it only uses one.  Or says it only uses one, who knows how many it actually uses.  But one is better than none.  The Nvidia CUDA core calculations are way faster than CPU only.. like 10x faster..  If you don't use the GPU you're wasting your time.

This got me to thinking, are there better grid systems out there?   Do some deserve our computer cycles more than another?   Why?   What do you use?    Do you have a grid machine setup?  Why not?  I honestly can't think of a down side... Can you?

Okay that's not true, I guess the major down side is your computer is always hyperactive.  It's never "at rest".  But is that a problem?  Computers aren't like people in that they don't rest.  A CPU using 10% of its processing power is effectively the same as a CPU using 100% of its processing power in all ways except one;  Heat.

So a computer that's chewing away at @Home stuff is going to be hotter than an idle machine.  And there will be a slight spike in bandwidth when transferring the files back and forth, but its hardly worth mentioning as these files are tiny.   So that's the two "major" downsides I can think of.


Edit: I swear to god I had more points than this at one time.. Either I used a different login at some point in the past, or something got erased..  Oh well.. It's not about the points..