|Phone||(+44) 161 660 3201|
|Description||World's cheapest, greenest supercomputer|
|Angel, 7/11 ||£200k|
Based on the proven idea of volunteer computing, Charity Engine harnesses the vast, wasted, surplus computing capacity of the world’s home PCs - a technically simple feat, but one which requires the permission of the world’s PC owners first.
Charity Engine gains that permission by converting the donated computing into real money for top international charities - and also, every so often, a substantial cash prize for one lucky volunteer. These are far more popular reasons to join a computing grid than any science project.
Our Facebook page is proving the point dramatically, with 500,000+ followers in over 130 countries making Charity Engine the most popular UK tech brand on Facebook already.
As Charity Engine has the public support of our international charity partners (and others pending), it should easily become the world’s most popular volunteer grid - in effect, the first worldwide computer - capable of utterly transforming scientific research and industrial productivity. (Just 0.5% of the Internet would be more powerful than every supercomputer on Earth combined. It is truly in a class of its own.)
Making It Happen
The software is already written. To begin with, Charity Engine is based on BOINC, the de facto industry standard for volunteer computing. BOINC is mature, reliable software which supports dozens of scientific applications and has been used by millions of home PCs for nearly ten years. It is also open-source.
The director of BOINC, Prof David Anderson, is now our full-time technical consultant for six months. Matt Blumberg and his expert team (GridRepublic, Progress Thru Processors) have designed and coded the site, which launched as a private beta on 31 July 2011, as announced on stage at TNW 2011. Now live.
Making It Valuable
Obviously, the business must have a revenue stream to generate the charity donations and prize fund. This comes from science and industry renting processing time on the ‘global grid’ for an incredibly cheap rate; just 1 cent per average CPU core/hour or even less.
As it normally costs more than 1c/hr just to power a CPU core, Charity Engine can effectively provide cloud computing for ‘below cost’ yet still make money. It is the world’s cheapest computing platform by an order of magnitude.
Other significant revenue sources will include massively distributed storage (currently being coded), web-indexing, web diagnostics, the Charity Engine-branded distributed CDN and sponsorship.
By monetizing the model, Charity Engine completely solves the one problem that prevents most researchers from using volunteer computing: the risk of not finding enough volunteers. Not every project can capture the public’s imagination, and scientists have better things to do than create advertising campaigns. For the first time ever, the vast resources of the Internet can be available to purchase like any other commodity. It is the ultimate supercomputer for hire.
The Unexpected Bonus
Not only is Charity Engine the cheapest and potentially most powerful computing platform in the world, it is also the most environmentally friendly.
For a start, it requires no new hardware. That’s half the energy costs of any new system.
Nor does it require vast new billion-dollar facilities to house it, staffed and air-conditioned. In fact, it needs virtually no net cooling at all.
Unlike datacentres and supercomputers, we don’t stress the components (our volunteer’s PCs). A typical laptop CPU can cruise at 60% activity for just another 4-10Watts compared to idling, so that is our default setting.
No excessive heat, no noisy fans, no surprise bills - and the grid effectively gains ~60% of a full-power CPU for less energy than charging a smartphone. This is the key to Charity Engine’s incredible efficiency: using machines which already exist and are already switched on.
We can then reduce carbon costs even further by using a technique we’re calling the ‘Winternet’ - something that only a global grid can do.
Supercomputers and data-centres have one problem they cannot escape: megawatts of heat. Fortunately for us, it’s always cold somewhere - and everywhere is cooler at night. Charity Engine will therefore keep shifting data to the globe’s coldest PCs, where the extra heat is actually a welcome bonus and not just wasted on air conditioning. It really can be the greenest supercomputer on the planet.
Leave No Science Behind
There will always be worthy projects with huge computing needs but no money (just like most existing BOINC networks), so 5%-10% of the Charity Engine grid will be permanently reserved for “pure, poor science” and overseen by an independent advisory board. The first three members of the board are Prof David Anderson, Prof Stephen Wolfram and Dr Ethan Siegel, noted experts in computing, mathematics and astrophysics respectively. Fundamental physics, molecular biology, materials science, genetics and other key areas will also be well-represented.
Finally, Charity Engine has given all our charity partners the power of veto regarding who we do business with. No unethical research will ever be allowed to use the worldwide computer.
Mark McAndrew, CEO