This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Of BOINCing, or what women want

OK, I'll admit, this has nothing to do with horizontal negotiation or with women or what they want. But you might find it interesting nonetheless, at least some of you might.

A couple days ago, I downloaded a program called BOINC. It's a cooperative computing effort that allows certain projects that require massive amounts of computing time to utilize the free CPU cycles available on millions of idling computers. There're a number of projects you can lend your machine to and the program BOINC manages it all for you. It downloads certain work units from the project servers and processes them; when it's done, it uploads the results, updates your statistics and requests more work. And on and on it goes like that. These units take many hours to process, so it won't be hogging your Internet connection. The computation itself happens at low priority, which means that if you need your computer, BOINC automatically gives up control of the CPU to your other programs.

I joined two projects, Einstein and Rosetta. Here are the times required to process their work units on my home computers:

ComputerEinsteinRosetta
P4 2.53Ghz Windows XP4.5 hours4 hours
Dual Athlon 1.2Ghz Linux12 hours8 hours
P3 667MHz Linux
Overclocked to 720
25 hours


BOINC also detects and automatically uses multiple CPUs, if more than one is present. Each work unit process run on its own CPU, and since there's no constant switching between them, it doesn't seem to have any bad impact on performance.

I wouldn't recommend running BOINC on a laptop, due to their inability to properly dump heat, but if you want to see how your machines compare to others, this is a pretty good way.

Do you want to know more?

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