BOINC Chronology and Projects
** BOINC! Chronology and Pioneers **
In January 1995, David Gedye conceives the SETI@home idea. At this time, Gedye and David P. Anderson discussed forming an organization to develop software in order to support SETI@home-type projects in a variety of scientific areas. Geyde and Anderson had planned to call the project "Big Science", and for a couple of years they held the domain name "Big Science.com". The idea eventually became BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing). In 1999 SETI@home is launched.
I remember crunching data files which contained raw signals from the Universe as received by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico (the largest radio telescope on earth). What a great project! Volunteer your computer time, get credit for it, and receive a participation certificate as well.
It soon became apparent that SETI@home required a separate software platform, and in January 2002, David Anderson began working on BOINC in his spare time. The first prototype (client, server, web, test application) ran entirely on a single laptop computer running Linux.
In April 2002, David Anderson visits the ClimatePrediction.net project at Oxford University to discuss their requirements concerning a software platform, and in August 2002, David is awarded a grant from the NSF (National Science Foundation) to continue working on BOINC. The NSF has been supporting BOINC ever since then.
In September 2003, a BOINC-based version of SETI@home is tested, and in January 2004 work commences on the Predictor@home project. In June 2004, Predictor@home is launched as it becomes the first public BOINC-based project. As of August 2004, BOINC-based versions of SETI@home and ClimatePrediction.net are launched. By December 2005, the pre-BOINC version of SETI@home is turned off. At this point there are about 25 projects using BOINC, with roughly 400,000 users worldwide volunteering their PC power to BOINC projects.
** BOINC! Cooks **
Rom Walton started volunteering his time to BOINC in 2003 while working at Microsoft. Within a few months, he left Microsoft and became the first and only full-time employee (thus far) of BOINC. Charlie Fenton, a Microsoft guru who worked extensively on the original SETI@home, has worked part-time for BOINC for the last couple of years. He has developed the Mac OS-X version for BOINC. Bruce Allen, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and leader of the Einstein@home project, has done huge amounts of work for BOINC as a volunteer. He has increased BOINC's reliability by an order of magnitude.
There are roughly 100 other programmers who have worked on BOINC, and many other people who have volunteered their time as software testers, translators, message-board moderators, and so on... This is True Global Democracy... Excellent stuff everyone!
** What is the DC Grid? **
Grid computing is a form of distributed computing that involves coordinating and sharing computing, application, data, storage, or network resources across dynamic and geographically dispersed organizations. Grid technologies promise to change the way organizations tackle complex computational problems.
However, the vision of large scale resource sharing is not yet a reality in many areas - Grid computing is an evolving area of computing, where standards and technology are still being developed to enable this new paradigm.
Organizations that depend on access to computational power to advance their objectives often sacrifice or scale back new projects, design ideas, or innovations due to sheer lack of computational bandwidth. Project demands simply outstrip computational power, even if an organization has significant investments in dedicated computing resources.
Even given the potential financial rewards from additional computational access, many organizations struggle to balance the need for additional computing resources with the need to control costs. Upgrading and purchasing new hardware is a costly proposition, and with the rate of technology obsolescence, it is eventually a losing one. By better utilizing and distributing existing compute resources, Grid computing will help alleviate these problems.
The most common technology asset, the PC, is also the most underutilized, often only using around 10% of it's total compute power even when actively engaged in it's primary functions. By harnessing these plentiful underused computing assets and leveraging them for driving projects, the Grid Distributed Computing platform provides immediate value for organizations who want to move forward with their grid strategies without limiting any future grid developments.
** In Terms of Raw Power **
The world's #1 (IBM's Blue Gene/L) supercomputer, a joint development of IBM and DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. BlueGene/L also occupied the No. 1 position on the last three TOP500 lists. It has reached a Linpack benchmark performance of 280.6 TFlops (“teraflops” or trillions of calculations per second) and still remains the only system ever to exceed the level of 100 TFlops. This system is expected to remain the No. 1 Supercomputer in the world for some time.
On the other hand, volunteers from all over the world already contribute an average floating point of 250+ TeraFlops (250,000+ GigaFLOPS ) per second to Berkeley's SETI@Home project. The entire BOINC averages around 700+ TeraFLOPS and growing. Now that's Computing Power!
** The Proof That It Works **
The seminal Internet distributed computing project, SETI@home, originated at the University of California at Berkeley. SETI stands for the "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence," and the project's focus is to search for radio signal fluctuations that may indicate a sign of intelligent life within the known Universe. SETI@home is the largest, most successful Internet Distributed Computing project to date.
Launched in May 1999 to search through signals collected by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico (the world's largest radio telescope), the project originally received far more terabytes of data every day than its assigned computers could process. So the project directors turned to volunteers, inviting individuals to download the SETI@home software to donate the idle processing time on their computers to the project.
After dispatching a backlog of data, SETI@home volunteers began processing current segments of radio signals captured by the telescope. Currently, about 40 gigabytes of data is pulled down daily by the telescope and sent to computers all over the world to be analyzed. The results are then sent back through the Internet, and the program continues to collect a new segment of radio signals for the PC to work on.
The largest number of volunteers for any internet distributed computing project to date is SETI@HOME. Over 2 million individuals from all over the globe have installed the SETI@home software. This global network of computers has garnered over 3,000,000+ years of processing time in the past 9 years alone. It would normally cost millions of dollars to achieve that type of power on one or even two supercomputers.
** Welcome aboard! **
If you would like to take the BOINC software for a test run, and choose projects to participate in which would give you a jump start on what the future holds, you may download the BOINC Client software by clicking on the first link from the list below entitled: "BOINC open-source software for volunteer computing and desktop grid computing".
* (This is FREE software available to the public and to research organizations, and licensed under the terms of the GNU Free License which is published by the Free Software Foundation.) *
Once you have downloaded the BOINC Client into a newly created folder and extracted the files, double-click the BOINC Installation wizard icon, for example:
"boinc_6.2.19_windows_intelx86" for the Windows platforms.
Once the installation is complete, you may add research projects to the BOINC Manager application by clicking on the BOINC Manager icon (B icon) and then the TOOLS tab and selecting ATTACH TO PROJECT once the BOINC Manager has been opened.
You will then be asked to ENTER THE URL of the project you would like to attach to such as:
or, you can click on a project from the BOINC PROJECTS LIST PROVIDED BELOW, and COPY/PASTE the site URL from your browser's address bar into the BOINC Manager Program once you have downloaded it from the BOINC Homepage (the first link below).
The BOINC Manager will then ask you for your valid E-MAIL address, and a PASSWORD of your choosing once you enter a URL of a project you wish to attach to. Most of these projects house Graphic Displays that are very impressive, and they allow you to change your personal preferences and view STATS on your Work Units, Credits, etc.
If you are running on a Linux or Mac platform, well don't worry. Computers available to a public-resource computing project such as BOINC have a wide range of operating systems and hardware architectures.
For example, they may run many versions of Windows (95, 98, ME, 2000, XP) on many processors variants (486, Pentium, AMD, etc.). Hosts may have multiple processors and/or graphics coprocessors.
** BOINC supported platforms **
- windows_intelx86: Microsoft Windows (95 or later) running on an Intel x86-compatible processor.
- i686-pc-linux-gnu: Linux running on an Intel x86-compatible processor.
- powerpc-apple-darwin: Mac OS 10.3 or later running on Motorola PowerPC.
- i686-apple-darwin: Mac OS 10.4 or later running on Intel.
- sparc-sun-solaris2.7: Solaris 2.7 or later running on a SPARC-compatible processor.
If you are interested in conducting Real-Time research, you may wish to register with the STARDUST@home Project. After you register, you will be given a test in which you will be required to search for cometary dust particles (tracks) captured in Aerogel by the Stardust mission probe using an on-line virtual microscope. The passing grade is 80%, and should you acheive this grade, you will then be searching for dust particles which once were attached to comet Wild 2.
I don't think you have much to worry about where the test is concerned. If I can put together 90%, I'm sure you'll rank right up there with the rest of us. By the way, you do receive a STARDUST@home certificate for passing your training test....
If you wish to register and take the STARDUST@home Test Drive, you can do so by accessing the Berkeley Space Science Laboratory's STARDUST@home Site and clicking on "Step 3 Test & Register".
(The Stardust Mission Homepage is provided as the last link from the list below}.
Another very interesting project with 3D Graphics is FOLDING at Home. It is not part of the BOINC program (as of the present), but it can be downloaded in a separate folder by clicking on the second to last link on the list provided below entitled:
"Folding@home Protein Research (Non - BOINC Project) Homepage".
My sincere thanks to:
- David P. Anderson (BOINC Project Director) at the Space Sciences Laboratory of Berkeley University for supplying the BOINC Chronology of events, and to Rom Walton, Carl Christensen, Bernd Machenshalk, Eric Korpela, Bruce Allen, Charlie Fenton, and to all the other volunteers who participated and contributed ideas, discussion and code to the objectives of SETI@home and BOINC, making them a reality.
- The National Science Foundation, The Planetary Society, and the people, institutes and universities world-wide, who have supported the SETI@home and BOINC projects since their conception and continue to do so.
- Special thanks as well to NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Arecibo Radio Telescope Facility, and of course, Berkeley University.
- The Global Volunteers, who without their time and effort, BOINC would have never of been possible... This article I dedicate to you !
Astereion- Orion Project,
Laval, Qc., CANADA.
BOINC Projects, Free Software, Resources, and other DC Projects.
BOINC open-source software for volunteer computing and desktop grid computing.
SETI@Home - Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Homepage.
EINSTEIN@Home Project - The search for spinning neutron stars ( pulsars) Homepage.
ROSETTA@Home - Assist in research to design new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, and Cancer,
SPINHENGE@Home Project - Actively support the research of nano-magnetic molecules.
WORLD COMMUNITY GRID - Donate the time your computer is turned on, but is idle, to projects that benefit humanity.
COSMOLOGY@Home - Search for the model that best describes our Universe by using available astronomical particle physics data.
NANOHIVE@Home - Perform large-scale nanosystems simulation and analysis in the field of nanotechnology.
LHC@Home - Contribute to the investigation on particle properties, using the worlds largest particle accelerator.
CLIMATE PREDICTION Project - Contribute to the research that will allow us to explore how global climate may change in the next century.
SIMAP - Participate in biology research which calculates similarities between proteins.
LEIDEN Classical Project - A Chemistry Project which conducts surface science calculations using classical dynamics.
PRIMEGRID - Participate in generating a public sequential prime number database.
** Coming Soon** PLANETQUEST Project - Search for and discover new planets, classify stars and get credit for your discoveries.
FOLDING@Home Protein Research (Non - BOINC Project) Homepage.
STARDUST@Home Project - Search for cometary dust particles (tracks) captured in Aerogel by the Stardust mission probe.