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Forecasting a Warming World Via Thousands of PCs

  Computerworld (04/02/12) Patrick Thibodeau

 Oxford University researchers recently conducted a climate change study using 50,000 PCs to run simulations that were originally written for a high-performance computing system.  The researchers conducted the study on ClimatePrediction.net, which uses the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) framework for distributed computing.  ClimatePrediction, which is the only distributed network for climate change research, has more than 500,000 registered hosts, according to Oxford researcher Daniel Rowlands.  He says the research, which is focused on continent-wide changes around the world, would have cost more than $1 million to do on a commercial cloud service.  “We are completely indebted to our volunteers,” Rowlands says.  He notes the study took about 5,000 years of central-processing unit computer time.  The BOINC framework also is used for the Rosetta@home project, which is investigating protein folding, PrimeGrid@home, which conducts mathematical research, and MilkyWay@home, which creates three-dimensional models of the galaxy.

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