Distributed computing.

Distributed computing is very much just what it soulds like. There are a number of reasons to utilize such strategies but the most popular is to achieve a greater amount of data processing in a given amount of time. Back in December of 2008 I wrote about how I had participated in the SETI@home project and then subsequently switched to the Folding@home project. Both of the projects are excellent examples of distributed computing. What I find most interesting about these projects is that they are using the power of distributed computing to analyze data that has already been obtained, rather than producing new data. In the case of SETI, they are able to use various radio telescopes the gather data from distant space in huge quantities. That data is then divided into very small pieces for each distributed client to analyze. Similarly, Folding@home uses the power of distribution to run protein folding simulations for far longer that was previously practical. The Folding@home Wikipedia page has some facts about the amazing amount of processing power of the Folding volunteer network. It runs in the multiples faster than the most powerful single computer in the world.

Below is a video of a protein folding simulation.

This precisely the type of work that your computer can contribute to the Folding project if you download and run the client. Many of us have computers that sit powered on all day and most of that time they are idle or using only a fraction of their processing power. Why not put that power to good use for a good cause?

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