Facebook app lets Intel PCs donate processor power

Chipmaker launches a Facebook application Monday that allows the spare power in a PC to be used for good causes such as fighting diseases and studying climate change.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Can't donate your personal time to a good cause? Intel is providing what may be the next best option.

Intel teamed up with GridRepublic on Monday to launch a Facebook application that allows the spare processing power in a PC to be used to fight diseases and study climate change.

The massive amount of data crunching necessary for high level research is often extremely expensive or not readily available--or both. Intel's solution is Progress Thru Processors, a computing application built on the Facebook platform that allows people to donate their PC's available data processing capacity to research projects such as Rosetta@home, which uses computers to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases.

GridRepublic application allows computers to work on public-interest research projects when the machines are not otherwise in use.
GridRepublic application allows computers to work on public-interest research projects when the machines are not otherwise in use. Intel

In addition to Rosetta@home, Progress Thru Processors participants can choose to contribute processor power to the research efforts of Climateprediction.net and Africa@home. Climateprediction.net is dedicated to increased understanding of global climate change by predicting the Earth's climate and testing the accuracy of climate models. Africa@home is currently focused on finding optimal strategies to combat malaria by studying simulation models of disease transmission and the potential impact of new anti-malarial drugs and vaccines.

"By simply running an application on your computer, which uses very little incremental resources, you can expand computing resources to researchers," Deborah Conrad, Intel vice president and general manager of corporate marketing, said in a statement.

The application was launched Monday as a public beta and available to all Facebook users and is available for download here.

The application will activate only when a PC's performance is not being fully utilized. When the participant's computer usage demands more processor performance, the application defers and sits idle until spare processing capabilities become available again, Intel said. The application runs automatically as a background process on a PC and will not affect performance or any other tasks, according to Intel.

Progress Thru Processors does not require participants to leave their computers powered up unnecessarily. By keeping their PCs on only as they normally would, participants will still be contributing, Intel said.