IT giant Sun Microsystems has promised to fund the next generation of the [email protected] experiment, which uses internet-connected computers in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
The long-running hunt for aliens, which is managed by a group of researchers at the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, will be revamped with the introduction of a software platform, Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), designed to improve the way participating computers are linked to the project.
BOINC, a free software system, consists of several components. Its server system manages work queuing and scheduling, account management, platforms and versioning. It provides project management and maintenance tools, and web-based participant features such as profiles and teams.
The client side consists of a 'core client' application, available for all key platforms that manage computation, storage and communication.
Since BOINC keeps track of individual computers, it has twice the database throughput requirements of the original [email protected] systems, necessitating the introduction of more powerful hardware.
A Sun Enterprise 3500 server, three Sun Enterprise 450 servers, four Sun Fire 480R servers and two Netra servers running Solaris have all been deployed to support the experiment.
"Public computing has been very effective for applications that appeal to people and need lots of computing power," said Dr David Anderson, director of [email protected] and BOINC.
"These applications exist in many areas of science. It's a great way to get people involved in science, not just as bystanders but as participants."
BOINC is available here for free public beta testing under a public licence.
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