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TACC Partners with IBM's World Community Grid to Address Large-Scale, Global Problems

Published on November 8, 2007 by Faith Singer-Villalobos



The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin has announced its partnership with IBM Corporation's World Community Grid. TACC will assist the philanthropic project by running the software on its staff PCs and installing the client on TACC's new Stampede cluster.

"TACC deploys world-class high performance computing systems and other advanced computing resources, but does not provide a massive distributed serial computing grid. Therefore, we are pleased to partner with the World Community Grid, one of the leading such projects in the world," Jay Boisseau, director of TACC, said. "We look forward to working with IBM to explore how researchers can most effectively utilize both TACC advanced systems and the World Community Grid to address problems with deep impact to society as well as science."

The World Community Grid, a massive virtual computer composed of 780,000 PCs and counting, represents one of the largest philanthropic research projects ever attempted. IBM funds the project as a charitable program and has donated the hardware, software, technical services and expertise to build and maintain the infrastructure.

"The idea is to tap into this vast computing power and put it together with scientists' big research ideas to help society and the world by dramatically speeding up their research," said IBM Master Inventor and Chief Scientist Viktors Berstis.

Volunteer computing, a type of "distributed" or "grid" computing, emerged in the 1990s as a way to solve complex computational problems by connecting large numbers of volunteer PCs over the Internet. Large-scale problems are broken up into millions of small data packets and sent to individual participating computers. Home and business PCs, working while they sit idle, process these data packets and send the results back to a central system. There, the information is double-checked for accuracy and combined to form a complex solution.

Since its inception in 2004, the World Community Grid has helped researchers complete several studies, including a comparison of genomes and the development of tools for early cancer diagnostics. The Grid has projects through partnerships with non-profit, governmental and academic institutions, including a search for drugs to cure AIDS and a study of African climate change. The discoveries aided by the World Community Grid are made available to the public to help the global research community.

With the number of PCs in the world approaching the one billion mark, the World Community Grid has untold potential, leading many researchers to believe the next big breakthrough might be achieved with the help of home and work computers.

"It's doing something philanthropic without paying any money. How often can you do that?" Berstis said. "Here's something you can do to contribute to humanity and its effortless."

To join the World Community Grid, visit: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org to become a member.


Contact

Faith Singer-Villalobos

Communications Manager
faith@tacc.utexas.edu | 512-232-5771

Aaron Dubrow

Science And Technology Writer
aarondubrow@tacc.utexas.edu

Jorge Salazar

Technical Writer/Editor
jorge@tacc.utexas.edu | 512-475-9411