Do you remember the heyday of ‘SETI @ Home’? The program was very popular just over a decade ago, and it made use of the millions of desktop computers that were not continuously hooked up to the internet via early broadband but sat idle much of the time waiting to chime ‘You’ve Got Mail!’. Now the folks at Berkeley are putting the same core computing principles at work with a project called BOINC.
BOINC stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, and is known for the software that allows unused CPU cycles to be tapped by as many as 50 projects around the world to run analyses or simulations that would otherwise be impossible due to the high cost and constrained supply of supercomputers.
The core BOINC software has been available continuously since 1999, with SETI@Home and Rosetta@Home two of the more famous projects. The big news is that the developers have ported the app to smartphones! Currently the app is for Android devices only, and will only run in the background when your device is plugged in and turned on, and when the battery is at least 95% charged. Versions for iPhone (and maybe even Windows Phone) are likely but not announced.
Here are a few details about the app:
“There are about a billion Android devices right now, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers,” said BOINC creator David Anderson, a research scientist at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “Mobile devices are the wave of the future in many ways, including the raw computing power they can provide to solve computationally difficult problems.”
Creation of the app was funded by the Max Planck Institute, which runs Einstein@Home; Google Inc.; and the National Science Foundation, which has supported BOINC since 2002. IBM assisted in the design of the user interface and organized beta testing of the app.
“Our main goals are to make it easy for scientists to use BOINC to create volunteer computing projects to further their research, and to make it easier for volunteers to participate,” Anderson said.
Source: R&D Magazine