Give a hoot, use your computer!
December 31, 2004 6:59 AM   Subscribe

The World Community Grid is a project to use spare CPU cycles to help the world. The Grid is Windows only, but Folding@Home is a cross-platform way to spend your extra CPU cycles, in an effortless (for you) quest to cure disease. And of course there's the original donated cycle project, SETI@home.
posted by mosch (12 comments total)
That's not the original donated cycle project! is! It peeves me how much attention SETI@home got on the mainstream Internets, and how little gets.

And you can actually win money by running it!
posted by Plutor at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2004

I thought Windows already had a built-in system for donating your spare CPU cycles to spammers.
posted by dreish at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2004

Old news.

This is just a project renamed for PR purposes.

IBM have been using United Devices through for years ( and SETI are partners). I've been running their grid screen savers for at least a couple of years. None of the technology is IBM's. IBM just pays for it.

I've been running the Human Proteome Folding Project screen saver for months. Before that is was the Smallpox Research Grid Project. Before that, anthrax. Before that, a cancer drug folding project. My original point of entry to the project was through the Department of Chemistry at Oxford. It was their project and IBM was a sponsor. UD was the grid vendor.

The UD screen savers are prettier than SETI's.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:43 AM on December 31, 2004

And which of these work on a profit model? I'd rather donate my cycles to a university than a corporation.
posted by rushmc at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2004 isn't the first donated cycle project either. The factoring of RSA-129 is the first big one, see the paper The Magic Words are Squeamish Ossifrage, but even then there were smaller projects going back to the 70s that did this. It's not a new idea.

What excites me about Folding@Home and this Proteomic folding project is that they're doing something actually useful. SETI@Home is the world's biggest computer dedicated to returning the result "no".'s RC5-72 project is basically showing that even with 10,000 computers, RC5-72 is really hard to break. Nice proofs of concept, but the bioinformatics work is actually going to create new science.

I used to run a startup that did this, so maybe I'm biased. I have a lot of respect for the folks who are out there still plugging away at this idea. I'm just glad to see the problems shift to things that actually matter.
posted by Nelson at 8:13 AM on December 31, 2004

Sorry Plutor, I always forget about, mostly because it was only interesting until they proved that distributed computing worked. Once they did that, the project became horridly boring.
posted by mosch at 8:14 AM on December 31, 2004

Didn't the GIMPS (great internet mersenne prime search) project predate
posted by devbrain at 8:31 AM on December 31, 2004

devbrain: Yeah, I was just going to indignantly comment about that. They started in january '96, whereas didn't start until february '97.
posted by fvw at 8:44 AM on December 31, 2004

Okay, okay, so wasn't first. I still "harumph" every time I see it and GIMPS (thanks devbrain) ignored. And why? Why does SETI@home deserve more attention? Is it the cycle-wasting pretty screensaver?
posted by Plutor at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2004

I've been running DDOL -- -- for a while now, but only at night cause I have perceived a performance hit running it during the day. Spinning tinkertoy molecules and zap-guns.

Also curious about rushmc's comment re DDOL - they *look* like a nonprofit, but I've not researched that. I too would rather donate cycles to a nonprofit or a university.
posted by omnidrew at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2004 is doing better work then folding@home, seti@home, or even =)
posted by geeknik at 12:08 PM on December 31, 2004

And which of these work on a profit model? I'd rather donate my cycles to a university than a corporation.

The corporations involved are doing publics grids as research. They are paying for it, not making a profit at it. The universities doing it are using corporations to solve their problems.

I'm stating this as fact, not out of love for corporations.

Also, find-a-drug started as the United Devices/Oxford project, funded by NFCR and Intel. There's a mix of corporate, non-profit, and university interests in all these non-SETI public grids.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:06 PM on December 31, 2004

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