Have Idle Processor will compute…


Ok so it seems like a strange name for a topic, but it’s true. Unless you’re opening a program, burning a CD, or doing something extremely graphically intense (yes, I’m sure there are other times as well), you’re only using about 7% to 12% of your total Processor power. So, the rest of the CPU (Processor) power is sitting there idle. They say “Idle hands are the devil’s work.”

I’ve discovered a couple of programs that make good use of the procesor power that is sitting idle. One is called folding@home and the other is called seti@home. Folding is using your processor to ‘fold proteins’ in order to discover how they work on a genetic level. Sounds like scientific mumbo-jumbo to you? Well, the theory is that if they figure out how the proteins work on the genetic level, they can use that to counter diseases such as cancer and HIV.

Seti@home uses your processor to analyze radio signals that they have received. What exactly they’re looking for, I cannot say for certain. However, the belief is that they will hear some signal that proves life outside of our planet. (For some reason, the song “Children of the Sun” comes to mind).

I currently have both folding and seti running on the computer that I’m using to write this post. And, since it’s my main computer, I use it for everything. But, regardless of what I put to this, both of these programs run like champs, and they don’t tax my processor very much.

So, why am I blogging about this? Because both programs are very worthwhile causes. You never know… That one signal your computer processes, could contain the magic words that SETI is looking for or, it could be the right ‘fold’ to show how HIV attaches itself to your cells. On a more realistic scale, your processor is helping to create a super computer which is how the programs do their work. It’s like you are hooked to thousands or millions of other computers, and you’re all working as one.

I’m also blogging this, because I’m looking for a good team to join up with. I realize that my computer is just a tiny ripple in a giant pond, but my ripple can help to move a ship. So, if you have a team, and are looking for more people, I’d be interested in contributing what I can to help you out.

For anyone else that happens to read this, I’ll give you the links to folding and seti, so you can check them out. I should tell you that folding will run on an ancient computer with only 64MB of RAM (although I’ve seen snails run faster). SETI, however, is a little more demanding.

Here are the links for you. Folding@home is located at http://folding.stanford.edu and Seti@home is located at http://boinc.berkeley.edu/. I hope that people will join in the causes, and help make a difference.

Patrick.

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