The process of running a single computational task on more than one distinct computer. This differs from cluster computing in that computers in a distributed computing environment are typically not dedicated to distributed computing, whereas clusters are almost always comprised of dedicated hardware. This makes distributed computing very attractive because it can utilize computational resources that would otherwise be unused, or it can make it possible to have resources for special computational purposes shared among users.
These type of collaborative Distributed Computing Projects have achieved recent success solving mathematical and security challenges. Once a project is implemented, across the internet for example, these projects only require two things, both spare computer cycles and the ability to get users to install and run the project’s program.
Most applications such as word processors, email, and Web browsing use only a tiny fraction of a processor‘s capabliity. Distributed computing runs at an extremely low priority, using spare cycles effectively and not interfering with the a given system. Users enjoy seeing statistics on the activity their computer produces and the karma benefits of contributing to scientific research.
Distributed Computing can help solve problems but should be used with caution.
- Having a processor constantly active prevents operating systems’ idlers from putting the processor into a low-power mode. While this can take up more electricity, it still uses far less than a television or microwave. On a laptop, turn off any Distributed Computing program while using battery power.
- Similar to overclocking, setting the processor usage at a constant 100% may cause it to be very hot, putting the silicone chip in danger of melting. With proper, reliable cooling this is not an issue. Some newer systems will also automatically detect the processor temperature and react accordingly.
- News: Supercomputer + Flashmob – New York Times
- Distributed Computing Economics – Paper discussing the changing economic of network traffic.
- Arstechnica Distributed Teams
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