A computer's processor and RAM are often not fully used, especially, for example, at nights when files are being downloaded or when it is locked by a user. Instead of allowing it to go to waste, one can donate their spare computer resources to numerous projects which use BOINC. It needs to be noted that donating processing power will result in a higher electricity bill as the computer is using more power when it is running on full speed.
BOINC allows people to give a certain percentage of their computer's resources to different causes, which you can selected actively. This saves these projects from having to buy a supercomputer, as small parts of what has to be processed are sent to thousands of computers which process them instead. It is a grid of connected home computers so to speak that is donating processing power to scientific research projects. This software is available for Windows, Linux and OS X.
About 25 projects utilise BOINC, ranging from projects which find prime numbers, the future of our planet's climate, aliens (the famous SETI@Home project) and even proteins which could fight diseases like HIV.
After BOINC is installed, you must associate yourself with the projects you are interested in and create an account. Each project with which a user registers records all of that user's activities and places them in a league table for the amount they've processed. Users can associate multiple computers to an account and join groups, which then compete against other groups just like individual users compete against each other.
BOINC allows users to choose the proportion of resources dedicated to certain projects and ensures more powerful computers get more credit than less powerful, slower ones.
Certain projects have attractive visualisations too, which depict the information being processed. SETI's can be used as a screensaver, which shows which parts of the radio telescope's data is being analysed.
Some problems with BOINC are its power consumption, which can deteriorate a laptop's battery, and that it makes computers hotter and consequently noisier. The GUI is also quite confusing!Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.