Intel helps build P2P computer to fight cancer

Intel has been a big proponent of P2P which, in one of its many forms, makes use of computing resources sitting idle in thousands of networked computers to solve complex problems. Intel predicted that the project announced Tuesday will attract millions of volunteers and create a "virtual supercomputer" that can perform at teraflop speeds, or trillions of operations per second.

Intel chairman Craig Barrett announced the project, part of Intel's new Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer Program, at a press conference here Tuesday morning at Intel's headquarters. The program is a joint effort with The American Cancer Society, the National Foundation for Cancer Research and other research groups, Barrett said.

"This brings something that hasn't been available to the research community: unlimited computing power," Barrett said.

To take part, users download a free software application from United Devices that includes a small part of a larger problem that medical researchers need to solve. The application runs in the background on a user's PC whenever resources are available, and typically takes a day or two to complete. At the end, the results are uploaded automatically to a datacenter at United Devices and the application downloads another part of the problem.

The information collected by United Devices is passed to researchers at Oxford University in the UK. Oxford University will own the intellectual property that results from the project, said Graham Richards, chairman of chemistry at Oxford, who joined Barrett at the press conference.

Ideally, the project eventually will lead to a time when users can pick and choose between different medical problems they want to help solve, Barrett said. "People can donate computing capability; they don't have to donate funds, just unused computing power," he added.

Information about how to participate, along with details about Intel's Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer program, are on Intel's Web site at http://www.intel.com/cure/.

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