Intel Facebook App Taps Idle PCs For Research - InformationWeek

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Intel Facebook App Taps Idle PCs For Research

The Progress Through Processors app lets users donate idle PC hours to help work on cures for diseases, climate prediction, and malaria control.

Intel launched a Facebook-exclusive application that enables people to donate idle PC time to researchers tracking climate change and battling cancer and other diseases.

The Progress Thru Processors application lets Facebook users help three projects: [email protected], which is working on cures for AIDs, cancer, Alzheimer's and other diseases; ClimatePrediction.net, which is combating global warming; and [email protected], which is helping to control malaria in Africa.

The application pools the computing power of connected PCs to create a kind of supercomputer that researchers can use to perform complex calculations. The software sits idle while the PC is being used, so a person shouldn't experience any drops in performance, according to Intel.

The idea behind Progress Thru Processors is to avoid wasting the computing power of millions of computers that sit idle in homes and the office during certain times of the day.

"Progress Thru Processors underscores our belief that small contributions made by individuals can collectively have a far-reaching impact on our world," Deborah Conrad, VP and general manager of Intel's Corporate Marketing Group, said. "By simply running an application on your computer, which uses very little incremental resources, you can expand computing resources to researchers working to make the world a better place."

Intel is not the first to focus on people's idle PCs for science. [email protected] is the world's largest such project. Run by Stanford University, the medical research project has had particular success in tapping the computing power of people's PlayStation 3 video-game consoles through a partnership with manufacturer Sony.

Other similar large-scale projects include [email protected], which searches space for extraterrestrial radio signals.

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