Home News Forum Articles
  Welcome back Join CF
You are here You are here: Home | Forum | Distributed Computing

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most of the discussions, articles and other free features. By joining our Virgin Media community you will have full access to all discussions, be able to view and post threads, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload your own images/photos, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please join our community today.


Welcome to Cable Forum
Go Back   Cable Forum > Cable Forum Website > Articles & Information > Miscellaneous Information > General Information

Distributed Computing
Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 22-10-2006, 12:19   #1
MovedGoalPosts
Moving the Goal Posts
 
MovedGoalPosts's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: 127.0.0.1
Age: 53
Posts: 16,408
MovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny stars
MovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny stars
Distributed Computing

Overview: What is Distributed Computing

Most desktop and laptop computers are underused when they are switched on. Many of us now have powerful processors and lots of memory. Emailing, word processing, or just checking on Cable Forum barely makes the modern CPU break a sweat. When you go off to answer the phone, have a brew, or stop playing games, your computer just sits there using electricity, for nothing. If you don't believe this (assuming you have windows), do the three fingered salute, click the processes tab and you'll see the majority of processor power is devoted to "System Idle Process".

Distributed Computing projects take advantage of this underused computer power. All are scientific research projects, some medical, some trying to find cures for illnesses or new drugs, some looking for signs of Extra Terrestrial life. The combined power of the spare capacity available from the millions of computers vastly exceeds the most powerful supercomputers. Without Distributed computing, most of the projects being run would take years to achieve results.

How does it Work?

Each Distributed Computing user creates an account with the project(s) of their choice. The project will provide free client software, that enables your PC to receive the work, do it's thing on it, and send the completed results back.

Each project breaks their massive task into small segments or Work Units (WUs). These WUs are processed (crunched) by your computer with the results being returned via the Internet for analysis and checking (validation). Most projects send the same WU to three or perhaps more computers, and comparing the returned results for validity. There is often a time limit for the crunching of WUs and returning the results, to ensure there are not lots of incomplete WUs kicking around.

What’s the Catch?

You don't earn any reward, for the donation of your computer's resources, and burning your electricity! You are a volunteer.

The only acknowledgement you will get, is a warm feeling inside (perhaps caused by the heat output from your computer). There may be a down-loadable certificate when you have done certain amounts of a project. Most projects create credits per WU completed. These are displayed in league tables amongst fellow crunchers on that project. Be warned, these leagues can become addictive. Many enthusiasts will run more than one computer on one account so as to boost their standings in teams. We know of some people who will run many computers (often referred to as a farm) for nothing else than climbing that league table. However, you should only run DC on computers that you own. Offices often take a dim view of borging (assimilation - get it) of computers on to your account, when they aren't your property.

Distributed Computing Projects are at low priority on your computer. Simply put most applications run at normal priority, thus DC stuff will only operate on anything unused and the CPU is released whenever it's needs for other stuff. DC restarts again automatically when you stop needing the CPU. It's a hidden process. There will be some memory use, so you perhaps want some spare capacity there, although most modern PCs are well specified in that department. Very few users would notice DC is running. However gamers, or those making very intensive use of their computer’s power, may wish to suspend DC projects whilst in the middle of their session.

There is no evidence to say your computer will be harmed. Your CPU computer will be working hard, but it’s designed for this. The biggest issues are of temperature. As the computer is running intensively, the processor memory and other components might get quite warm. Keeping your computer well ventilated is important. You may well notice some increased noise from coolant fans spinning faster.

Inevitably you will wish to trust the project you are running that it’s software is safe, i.e. free from viruses and the like. But these days we all have firewalls and anti virus software?

The most obvious catch is your electricity bill, and the time you spend checking on your latest addiction. If the computer would be on anyway for your normal use, you might not be adding significantly to your power consumption, but there can be nig differences between idle and fully loaded status. It's only when you start leaving your PC on all the time, when your wouldn't have done so before, that your bill's increase. However there are many who argue that switching a PC on and off degrades it (not that this is proved) as the temperature changes might affect the electronics, so leaving it running all the time is a good thing, right?

What Do I Need?

The faster your computer the greater will be your potential contribution. A reasonable memory capacity is a must. Most projects will use some hard disk space, some projects potentially a lot. Most modern PC's will be capable, but beware of laptops which might not cope well with the heat. For best performance many projects can use the full capabilities of multicored CPUs to process more complex tasks. Some projects can take advantage of modern graphics cards. Many of the DC project software will benchmark your PC and then only download WUs that the machine is capable of crunching.

Most projects, were developed for Windows software, simply because of the user base. Linux and Mac computers are also well supported by some but not all projects.

You need Internet access. Broadband is recommended simply because it's there when the PC needs to upload results and download a new WU, and some files might be large, or reasonably frequent. Dial up will work.

A quick word about overclocking, the process of making your PC run faster than the manufacturer's rating. This can be fine, and if it works means your WU will complete quicker, but watch those temperatures! However do be sure your system is perfectly stable. Poorly clocked machines can return bad results which benefits nobody.

Most projects use screen-saver (GUI) based client software by default. These screen-savers may be graphically interesting but, the graphics require CPU power. Addicts will scorn the GUI in favour of a command line client (CLI) that avoids the graphics altogether. Some of CLIs can be installed as a service enabling totally automated processing that you forget about, rather like your anti virus software.

You will setup a user account with each project. You may need to register with a valid email address. Download the client software from the project, install it to the computer, and enter your user account details, the WU processing should then be automated.

As a rule, while there are any DC projects to choose from, you should only run one project at a time. Dual core CPUS can do two separate projects, but that may take some setting up. However, the BOINC platform does allow CPU time to be shared, between many of the DC projects that use it

The projects and the Cable Forum Teams

Cable Forum Members do participate in DC projects!

You can just donate your spare computing capacity to a project. There is no obligation to be part of a team, but motivation counts. Teams provide a friendly competitive spirit amongst participants, a common cause to beat other teams, but most importantly a sense of real belonging. This encourages participants to crunch more. It can all become quite addictive - not to mention expensive. Active teams also provide a base where experiences and problems can be shared. Projects have recognised the ability of teams to enhance the crunching spirit.
MovedGoalPosts is offline   Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Old 22-10-2006, 16:02   #2
MovedGoalPosts
Moving the Goal Posts
 
MovedGoalPosts's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: 127.0.0.1
Age: 53
Posts: 16,408
MovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny stars
MovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny starsMovedGoalPosts has a pair of shiny stars
Re: Distributed Computing

Some DC Projects

The following are just some of the DC projects out there. New ones are often being added, especially on the BOIC platform, whilst others fall by the wayside.

Cable Forum does not specifically endorse any of these projects, most are run on a totally voluntary basis, or at least offer the results of the research to the scientific community for free. Some may however be more commercial and sell the results of their research. Make your own mind up as to which is right for you.

BOINC PROJECTS
BOINC is not actually a project in itself, but it provides the common software platform on which an number of DC projects run their clients.

Seti@Home
The Cable Forum Seti Team
Probably the Grandaddy of all the DC projects, SETI, the search for extraterrestrial life, established the DC principle. The project analyises snippets of noise recorded from observatory dishes in the hope of discerning a recognisable pattern that might indicate some form or radio transmission from far away.
The original project (closed in 2005) had a very active CF team for a while, but a lot of impetus weas lost as they moved to the Boinc platform.

Predictor@Home
The Cable Forum Predictor Team
Predictor is one of a number of projects working on folding of proteins. As at October 2006 it was offline

Climate Prediction (CPDN)
The Cable Forum Climate Prediction Team
Another well established project that moved over to the BOINC platform "The aim of climateprediction.net is to investigate the approximations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models. By running the model thousands of times we hope to find out how the model responds to slight tweaks to these approximations - slight enough to not make the approximations any less realistic. This will allow us to improve our understanding of how sensitive our models are to small changes and also to things like changes in carbon dioxide and the sulphur cycle. This will allow us to explore how climate may change in the next century under a wide range of different scenarios."

NON BOINC Projects

Folding
The Cable Forum Folding Team (number 38823)
A long established university run research project. "Proteins are biology's workhorses -- its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery. Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.Assessing"
The Stanford boys are really starting to push the limits of technology. New clients software is being developed to utilise the specific power of high end computer graphics cards, muliple cored CPUs, and even the Playstation 3!


Grid (United Devices)
The Cable Forum Grid Team
Another long established project. "Grid.org is a single destination site for large-scale, non-profit research projects of global significance. With the participation of over 3 million devices worldwide, grid.org projects like Cancer Research, Anthrax Research, Smallpox Research and the new Human Proteome Folding Project (running in conjunction with IBM's new World Community Grid) have achieved record levels of processing speed and success.
Grid.org projects are powered by United Devices' Grid MP technology, the leading solution for commercial enterprise grid deployments."
MovedGoalPosts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22-10-2006, 17:45   #3
Skatoony
Inactive
 
Skatoony's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Tamworth
Age: 29
Services: Sky Digital & Sky BB
Posts: 476
Skatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation eraSkatoony has entered a golden reputation era
Send a message via ICQ to Skatoony Send a message via MSN to Skatoony
Re: Distributed Computing

I'd like to add on the following non-beta/alpha BOINC projects.

Rosetta@Home
Rosetta@Home is becoming one of the most popular medical distributed computing projects available for the BOINC platform. It has a highly active community and project team who are constantly giving updates on the project's progress. Rosetta@Home helps to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer's. This is a non-profitable project.

Einstein@Home
Einstein@Home is a very popular project that helps to search for spinning pulsars in space using data from the LIGO and GEO gravitational wave detectors. Unknown if this is or isn't a profitable project.

World Community Grid
World Community Grid's mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Currently their most active project is the FightAIDS@Home project, which helps to find a better vaccine/cure for the HIV/AIDS virus. This is a non-profitable project.
Skatoony is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 17:37.


Server: radium.zmnt.net
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions Inc.