HTC phone users to power up scientific research

February 25, 2014 by Nancy Owano report

HTC announced at Mobile World Congress on Monday its new Power To Give project, which aims to donate processor power to scientific research. Planning on bringing together the power of millions of smartphones, the Android for altruism initiative is in the spirit of volunteer distributed computing, set to harness the collective processing power of Android smartphones. The distributed computing project involves a new Power To Give app, expected to land on Google Play shortly. How will this help? HTC's promotional video, against a background music of gentle piano ripples, notes that research scientists all over the world are searching for answers to some of our biggest questions, such as designing new proteins to treat cancer or breaking down toxic compounds in the environment. With the HTC Power To Give initiative, the video tells viewers "you can help."

HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang said in the Monday announcement, "We want to make it possible for anyone to dedicate their unused smartphone processing power to contribute to projects that have the potential to change the world."

The app in the Google Play store will initially be compatible with HTC One and HTC Butterfly phones. HTC also said it plans, as the beta trial progresses, to make the app more widely available to other Android smartphone owners.

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After downloading the app, smartphone owners can select the research program of their choice, to divert a proportion of their phone's processing power. HTC Power To Give will then run while the phone is charging and connected to a WiFi network. The app will not run the battery down as the process takes place while the phone is connected and plugged in. Tapping into the processing capabilities of a global network of smartphones is suitable for a number of projects where finding answers to complex questions may otherwise be handled by high-powered computers at higher cost. HTC said that, with enough participation, the processing power of the phone method could be quite significant. HTC said 1 million HTC One smartphones, working towards the Power To Give, could provide processing power similar to that of "one of the world's 30 supercomputers (one PetaFLOP)."

Wang called attention to analyst estimates that over 780 million Android phones had been shipped in 2013 alone. "Imagine the difference we could make to our children's future," she said, "if just a fraction of these Android users were able to divert some of their unused to help find answers to the questions that concern us all."

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The Power To Give program has been developed in partnership with Dr. David Anderson of the University of California, Berkeley. He is credited as the inventor of the Shared Computing Initiative BOINC, which stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. The BOINC website explains BOINC as a software platform for volunteer computing and desktop Grid computing. As the site details, HTC's initiative will not be the first volunteer computing project. That distinction belongs to GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search), which started in 1995. Other projects include SETI@home. The BOINC site defines volunteer computing as an arrangement in which people (volunteers) provide computing resources to projects, which use the resources to do distributed computing and/or storage.

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not rated yet Feb 26, 2014
Two questions:

How efficient is this in terms of power consumed versus computations performed? Compared to more traditional clusters?

How well do phones handle extended periods when all their processors are running at top speed, generating the most heat? Recognizing that not all phones handle heat dissipation equally well.
not rated yet Feb 26, 2014
when I worked with distributed computing schemes, I found that it was difficult or atleast impractical to push the individual nodes to the max CPU.. the way I understand it is this is a background charging process which means for most android systems that it's limited to ~10% cpu. I'd ensure that they never work over mobile networks as the bandwidth can get up there pretty quickly.

I've been advocating this type of system since the late 90's when I was first introduced to distributed protien calculations. I have my totally evidence-less suspicions that the govt has used background processes in Windoz for distributed computing. full OS systems were much more practical even then. 32bit i386 architecture is much more conducive to larger controlling programs. ARM programs are more limited- more likely to process recursive modules than full modals

with current paralell processors, increases in efficiency and battery I wouldn't mind pledging 3% of my total 16 cores 24/7
not rated yet Feb 27, 2014
How efficient is this in terms of power consumed versus computations performed? Compared to more traditional clusters?

I suspect efficiency is difficult to evaluate in this case, since participants presumably offer electric power to the cluster. So even if in the end the computation requires much more energy than would have been consumed by a dedicated supercomputer, it does not matter that much since whoever ran the batch will not pay the bill.
not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
As long as the program has points that you can earn, it will work

**Reputation and points systems**

Reputation and points systems can affect motivation, and may be the only source of motivation for some people to do something charitable

**Combine competition with cooperation**

People by nature can be mostly status-conscious, self-interested, and competitive. Either we have a system that allows people to satisfy their ego by spending money on the purchasing of charity points, or we continue to let people flaunt their wealth through expensive cloths, cars, jewelry, etc

tl;dr: People will brag either way, so we might as well shift it to something more beneficial to everyone

**Google OAuth and Google Play games**

Using World Community Grid as an example, I wish they would use OAuth so that I can just sign up instantly with my Google account

Here's a good review that I found that also suggests the use of a Google credential:

"Right now, it is cumbersome since you have to register

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