CERN Accelerating science

What is volunteer computing?

“Volunteer computing” is a type of distributed computing in which computer owners can donate their spare computing resources (processing power, storage and Internet connection) to one or more research projects. 

Volunteer desktops, laptops, and mobile phones can be connected to form the equivalent of a single, huge and super-powerful virtual supercomputer. Computers often only use between 10% and 15% of their total processing capacity so there’s a lot of potential power available. A modern PC can perform billions of operations a second; so even when you're typing 60 words a minute, the computer is largely idle. Computations that would take tens of thousands of years to run on an ordinary machine can be processed in just a few months by agregating all these idle resources.

Nearly a million dedicated volunteers and their hardware are making a big difference to science, enabling projects that would be impossible without massive computing power. In volunteer computing, a problem is divided into many tasks, each of which is solved by one or more computers at once.

Historically, significant increases in available computing power have always enabled new insights and discoveries in all areas of human endeavor. With your help, the physical origins of the universe can be modeled and probed, to an extent never before possible. We hope you'll join us, and help to make these leaps beyond the frontiers of human knowledge....