Intel has launched Progress Thru Processors, a new Facebook application that provides users with an interface to donate their unused computer processing time to worthy causes. Progress Thru Processors runs as a background process on the user's computer and automatically directs idle processing power to the researchers' computational efforts. When a computer user needs more processing power the application automatically switches to idle mode.
Intel is working with GridRepublic, a nonprofit organization that provides spare processing power donated by volunteers to projects in need of computing resources. The desktop client and application used in Progress Thru Processors are based on software developed by the BOINC project at the University of California, Berkeley, which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Intel's John Cooney says the application is unique in that it makes volunteer computing more attainable and user friendly.
GridRepublic executive director Matt Blumberg says adding a viral element could help build awareness for volunteer computing. "By providing a widget that makes it easy for people to participate and that let's them update their friends, I would like to think that all or most of Facebook's users will at least become aware of it," Blumberg says.
Initially, Progress Thru Processors will focus on only three research efforts, but Cooney says more may be added if the program proves popular. "We wanted a good cross section of project areas, but for our launch we needed to start out with a finite number," Blumberg says.
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