As a way of giving back, we install BOINC (the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) onto the machines of our clients who request it. BOINC is a distributed computer system which uses the spare (idle) processing power of volunteer’s computers to analyze data for scientific and medical research.
Many scientific and medical research projects require processing large amounts of data. This processing power has traditionally come from large server farms which cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars depending on the size. This makes a huge hurdle for certain types of research. Instead of buying and maintaining a server farm, researchers can now harness the power of volunteer computers to do the work for them. This processing power has the potential to unlock physics secrets and find cures for diseases that kill millions of people like Malaria and HIV.
Below are a few of the projects we participate in:
ATLAS@Home – Analyzing data from the Large Hadron Collider as a project of CERN, a physics research project which is used to gain a better understanding of atomic structure and behavior
Cosmology@Home – Analyzing models of universe size + shape + phenomenon. Currently working on models for explaining how Dark Energy is changing the rate at which the universe accelerates.
Einstein@Home – Analyzing telescope data for pulsar stars and other astronomical objects
FiND@Home – Performs simulations on Malaria proteins to find cures and new drug delivery sites
iGEM@home – Research on the behavior of micro-organisms, potentially leading to new methods of drug delivery and cellular repair
LHC@Home Classic – Analyzing data from the SixTrack project at the Large Hadron Collider
Malaria Control – Analyzing data from malaria outbreaks and containment strategies to improve models for beating it
MilkyWay@home – Analyzing astronomical data of our own galaxy to produce detailed 3D Maps of it
MindModeling@Home – Analyzing data from brain scans to gain a better understanding of how our own brains work
POEM@HOME – Studying protein folding to find new drug delivery methods and cures for diseases
RNA World – Analyzing data from experiments on RNA, the building blocks of all life on Earth so we can better understand diseases and our own bodies.
Rosetta@Home – Analyzing protein folding which can lead to disease cures and new drug delivery methods
theSkyNet POGS – Analyzing data from telescopes to map and better understand the universe and stellar bodies
Does BOINC really work? Have we actually discovered anything useful?
Yes! BOINC has been responsible for running millions of dollars in scientific calculations and has already lead to a better understanding of the universe, ourselves, and the diseases that threaten our very existence. Feel free to check out a list of publications made possible by BOINC research and the list of scientific results. These results have included a greater understanding of the mechanisms used by cancer, new drugs which show promise to treat malaria, and new binding sites for drugs that can fight HIV.
Does BOINC give anybody remote access to my computer or introduce additional security risks?
BOINC does not give anybody remote access or control of your computer. It does allow them to run scientific research programs on your processor, but the programs are “sandboxed”. This means they cannot access your files or do any type of mischief. The programs are written by research scientists at prestigious universities, national laboratories, etc. All programs on your computer introduce an element of risk, but BOINC does not introduce any additional risks beyond that. All programs run by BOINC are digitally signed to prevent any attacks. BOINC has never been hacked or successfully attacked in its decade-plus history due to the excellent security protocols it has in place. Even if it were, the program sandboxing insures no problems would arise as a result. For more information, check out the official BOINC security documentation.
Will BOINC slow down my computer?
When we install BOINC, we configure it to only work when the computer is idle (when you are not using it) so you will not notice any performance decrease.
Can running BOINC harm my computer by generating excess heat?
It will not, but it can exacerbate problems caused by cooling malfunctions in your machine (broken fans, lack of adequate cooling, etc). When we install BOINC, we set it to use a very small amount of resources so that even in the event of a cooling malfunction it should not cause any damage.