how does donating your processing power to science work?


Tons of questions stem from this… How are they using it from thousands of miles away? what are they doing with it? Why can’t companies like IBM use their own?

In: 2

A coworker did this with hos work computer and SETI. Basically, you allow (in this case) SETI access to your computer and they, in turn utilize it’s capacity while you are otherwise offline.


Company ended up firing him for it, but it was several months before they realized what was up.

Different types of supercomputer workloads can be represented in different ways, but also have different network connection needs. Some supercomputers require super-low-latency connections between each other and use fiber-optic cables in the same room. Others, like [email protected], require a computer to download a few megabytes of data, chew on it for a few hours, and submit the results as a few megabytes of data when it’s done.

The “Donating your computer” type is very much in the second category. It allows ordinary people with regular internet connections to participate since it doesn’t depend on that hot network connection.

These aren’t the kinds of things IBM does. They might make the equipment, but they don’t typically run the actual scientific research projects in-house. Regardless, supercomputers are *hungry* for electricity and cooling, and all that equipment isn’t cheap, and IBM isn’t in it for the charity.

Now… [email protected] was originally a Stanford University project and is mostly seen in that light. Still a reputable institution, but also does not have unlimited funds. In the case of [email protected], as the name implies, they are doing protein folding. A lot of cancer, COVID and other medical research has come out of it, and they ask ordinary people to run their app on their PC (CPU and/or graphics card) to act as part of their world-wide supercomputer.

But they are not for everybody. Like I said, supercomputers are hungry for electricity and your own PC is no different. Running [email protected] WILL increase your power bill and make the room it runs in get warmer. But if you want to do something charitable without writing a check/cheque, join in.