In support of the updated Climate Data Initiative announced by the White House today, IBM (NYSE: IBM) will provide eligible scientists studying climate change-related issues with free access to dedicated virtual supercomputing and a platform to engage the public in their research.
Each approved project will have access to up to 100,000 years of computing time at a value of $60 million. The work will be performed on IBM’s philanthropic World Community Grid platform.
Created and managed by IBM, World Community Grid provides computing power to scientists by harnessing the unused cycle time of volunteers’ computers and mobile devices. Participants get involved by downloading software that runs when they take breaks or work on lightweight computer tasks, such as browsing the internet. The software receives, completes, and returns small computational assignments to scientists. The combined power contributed by hundreds of thousands of volunteers has created one of the fastest virtual supercomputers on the planet, advancing scientific work by hundreds of years.
IBM invites researchers to submit sustainability project proposals to receive this free resource, and invites members of the public to donate their unused computing power to these efforts at worldcommunitygrid.org.
Through the contributions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, World Community Grid has already provided sustainability researchers with many millions of dollars of computing power to date, enabling important advances in scientific inquiry and understanding.
For example, World Community Grid partnered with the University of Virginia on Computing for Sustainable Water, which studied the effects of human activity on the Chesapeake Bay watershed to understand what actions can lead to restoration, health and sustainability of this important resource.
Harvard University’s Clean Energy Project has identified more than 35,000 materials with the potential to double carbon-based solar cell efficiency, after screening and publicly cataloguing more than two-million compounds on World Community Grid. This is believed to be the world’s most extensive quantum chemical investigation to date. Until now, carbon-based solar cells were made from a handful of molecules that were painstakingly discovered one by one. With Harvard’s work, there’s thousands more to explore.
World Community Grid’s partnership with the University of Washington on Nutritious Rice for the World modeled rice proteins and predicted their function to help farmers breed new strains with higher yields and greater disease and pest resistance, potentially providing new options for regions facing changing climate conditions.
“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call by empowering the U.S. and global agricultural sectors with the tools and information needed to keep food systems strong and secure in a changing climate.”
World Community Grid is welcomed by researchers who don’t have the funds or dedicated access to powerful supercomputers that can accelerate their simulations and virtual experiments. It has been used to facilitate research into clean energy, clean water and healthy foodstuffs, as well as cures for cancer, AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
“Massive computer power is as essential to modern-day scientific research as test tubes and telescopes,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President, IBM International Foundation. “But due to scarce funding for research, pioneering scientists often don’t have access to supercomputers vast enough to meet their research objectives. At IBM, we hope that the equivalent of 100,000 years of computing time per scientist will speed the next major breakthrough to help the world meet the challenge of climate change.”
Nearly three-million computers and mobile devices used by over 670,000 people and 460 institutions from 80 countries have contributed power for projects on World Community Grid over the last nine years. Since the program’s inception, World Community Grid volunteers have powered over 20 research projects, donating nearly a million years of computing time to scientific research and enabled important scientific advances in health and sustainability.