Monday, April 22, 2024

The Power Of Grid Computing

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Putting yourself on the grid computing map

Today, there are a number of such active grid computing projects. However, several of these projects are not on a continuous basis, that is, once the respective objectives are achieved, the projects disintegrate. In some instances, a new, related project can take over the task of a completed one.

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Folding@home project involves studying proteins (Image courtesy: http://sinfoplife.ru/en/projects)

Each of these projects has its own special features but the process of participation is almost the same. A person interested in becoming a user downloads an application from the project website. After installation, the application contacts the respective project’s control node, which then transmits a piece of data to the user’s computer for analysis. The software analyses the data, driven by unutilised CPU resources.

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By October 2014, WCG project had more than 60,000 active registered applicants (Image courtesy: http://scistarter.com)

It is very likely that the PC that you are using is not utilising the total computing power at a given time. Even when you are engaged in a game, creating graphics or surfing the Web, you may only be employing a fraction of your machine’s available computing power.

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The project’s software generally has a very low resource priority; if the user needs to activate a program that needs a large amount of processing power, the project software switches off temporarily. Once CPU usage returns to normal, the software begins analysing data again. Ultimately, the user’s computer finishes the data analysis asked for.

At that time, the project software sends data back to the control node, which relays it to the relevant database. Then, the control node sends a new set of data to the user’s computer, and the cycle replicates itself. If the project garners sufficient applicants, it can meet ambitious goals in a relatively short span of time.

Privacy and security aspects. Most grid computing firms provide an assurance that the applicant’s privacy will not be overrun in any way. The software is allowed to only update project-specific data in its own files. Of course, members always have the option of opting out of a project, at any point of time. Applicants can generally decide what level of their system resources they would like the grid computing company to use. They can also give their preferences in terms of whether the program runs as a screensaver or an application, when computation and communication can be done, whether connections should be made automatically and which proxies and firewall settings to use and so on.

To safeguard member privacy, members are made to create a member name when they install an agent. This name is stored in the member profile directory and used to identify each member on the company website and on any scoreboards.

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