Distributed computing in the service of COVID research

Cycles for Science

© Lead Image © Sean_Gladwell, Fotolia.com

© Lead Image © Sean_Gladwell, Fotolia.com

Article from Issue 253/2021
Author(s):

Linux and the BOINC distributed computing platform help researchers fight the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on countries around the world. Researchers are continuing their work to develop vaccines and explore other ways of containing the virus. Many research projects require enormous computing capacities, but expensive supercomputers are not always available. Thanks to the concept of distributed computing, you can support research efforts by providing the computing power of your home PC.

The concept of using home computers to assist with research projects has been around for several years. The SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has offered home users a chance to process radio telescope data since 1999. IBM launched the World Community Grid [1], a central platform for managing volunteer distributed computing projects, in 2004. Since 2005, the World Community Grid has used BOINC [2], a software tool developed by the University of Berkeley for supporting distributed computing.

BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) separates the computational framework from the scientific content, which makes it quite easy to adapt to a specific research project.

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