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Dec 11 2008   3:48PM GMT

Overheard – IBM backing the World Community Grid distributed supercomputer

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

stanley-litow.jpg “Forget about aliens, let’s cure AIDS.”

Stanley Litow,  quoting a commenter after the launch of the World Community Grid

I’m proud to help spread the news that IBM is backing a distributed grid supercomputer called the World Community Grid.  As I write this, over 413,000 members volunteering 1.2 million computers are harnessing their idle computing power to help scientists working on humanitarian causes.  The really interesting part is that this initiative will create kind of a hybrid supercomputer and once again change the definition of “the cloud.” (IBM piloted the program on their internal cloud and then extended out the grid to individual computer users.)

To become of member of World Community Grid and donate  your idle processing power so scientists can find a cure for AIDS, develop more efficient solar panels or help humanity in some other useful way,  all you have to do is sign up www.worldcommunitygrid.org. You’ll be asked to install a  small software which will allow your computer to request work from the World Community Grid’s server. After the work has been completed, your computer will send the results back to the WCG server and ask it for a new piece of work. A screen saver will tell you when your computer is busy being a supercomputer.

…The World Community Grid is running at an average of 179 Teraflops, roughly equivalent to the 11th most powerful supercomputer on earth. (The current heavyweight, IBM’s Roadrunner, runs at more than 1 Petaflop or 1,000 trillion calculations per second.)

The quote above comes from the article IBM and Harvard Tap World Community Grid
by David Gelles. Litow, IBM VP for corporate citizenship and affairs, was referring to another grid computing initiative called SETI@home. SETI is an abbreviation for “search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.”

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