Use your computer to help humanity…

Use your computer to help humanity…

Your desktop computer or laptop probably spends a good portion of its time not doing anything.  Some of you may even leave your computers permanently turned on (nothing wrong with that) so that when you’re ready to use it, it’s there waiting for your every command.

This ‘waste’ of processing time has caught the attention of some researchers.  You see, most of the time research involves using powerful super-computers to spend their time crunching away at data.  The issue is that these big computers can be very expensive – for example, to rent a 320 core computer for just one month for your research projects, would cost you around 30,000€ – and many research projects run for years.  SETI@home (the Berkeley research project to search astronomical data in search of extra-terrestrial life) for example has been running since 1999!  The 320 core super-computer mentioned above, incidentally is nowhere near the world’s fastest computer which has 3,120,000 cores!

In order to harness this “waste” of processing time, an enterprising organisation has created a program called ‘Boink’ that runs as a screen saver, and allows you to instruct your home computer (which will have 1, 2 or 4 cores depending on how powerful it is) to work on packets of work for research projects that you’re either interested in or interested in helping when it’s not being used by you to play Facebook games 😃 So, why not help some of these poor, hard up researchers by lending them your computer´s processor when you’re not using it?

There are some very worthy causes that could do with your spare processor time – the World Community Grid group for example would use your help to progress research into solving medical problems related to HIV/AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, and many more.  You can see a full list of projects at

So, how do you get involved?  All you need to do is visit and choose the project/s that you want to help, then download Boink from the same place and create your account by using your email address.  Once set up it looks after itself and will place a small icon on your task bar that will help you manage how Boink works – for example you can tell it to work harder on one project if you like.  Boink will download a small piece of work (it usually takes less than a minute) and work on it when you don’t need your computer and once its finished that piece of work, it will deliver it back to the project so that it can be put together with all the other work jobs.  It will then download another job to work on.

By utilising millions of home computers’ “quiet” time, this creates virtual super-computers that are at least as powerful in terms of processing ability than many of the world’s super- computers.  On average, at the moment the Bionk project has an active processing power of 6.914 petaflops – the world’s fastest super computer, Tinge-2, in China runs at a maximum of 33.86 petaflops.