Spare some idle CPU cycles for charity this season

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Well, it’s that time of year again when families come together to stare moodily at each other over lunch and, in theory at least, we’re supposed to be thinking about others less fortunate than ourselves. To that end, stay you hand before you switch off the office PC and head off for some seasonal shopping. For those CPUs could be put to good work for charity, no less.

The Charity Engine is a non-profit volunteer computing grid. Based on Berkeley University’s BOINC software for grid computing – as used by dozens of famous ‘citizen science’ projects such as SETI@home. Charity Engine’s version of BOINC simply donates what it makes from research projects on its grid and donates the cash to charity, while incentivising users with randomly generated cash prizes. Profit from the commissions from science and industry is shared 50-50 between the charities and prize winners. You can use the invite code for the beta: CRUNCH.

Charity Engine says its software typically adds less than 10 cents per day to a PC’s energy costs and can generate $10-$20 for charity – and the prize draws – for each $1 of electricity consumed.

Some of the projects to use the Charity Engine grid so far include Africa@home which uses volunteer distributed computing to provide supercomputing resources to African universities and institutions. The first such project is MalariaControl.net, a project to determine optimal strategies for controlling the spread of malaria.

So why not download the software and put that idle PC to work. The software has been used without incident by 6 million people, and the research applications cannot access personal data in any way. So let’s join hands. We are the world!