Distributed computing needs people sharing spare time of their CPU to do calculations. Therefor the contributor has to download a program receiving new data from the server and returning results to it.
Have you heard of the distributed computing project SETI@Home? Most people probably have. Do you know Folding@Home Distributed Computing? Some should know. To me it was not known that there are dozens of distributed computing projects available waiting for your contribution.
In most cases, you won’t get any money or nice prices as you are used to with SDN. So, why to constribute to a distributed computing project? It’s pure idealism. You help other people, often academical institutions, to achieve results that would never be possible without help of many volunteers.
Take Google Compute as an example for a project trying to get behind the scenes of very complex biological processes. If the researchers could find a description to an observed behaviour, the chances are good that this is advantageous for a whole society. Perhaps, a cure for a disease could be developed, who knows.
Another aspect is the high score tables. Productive contributors will rank higher than others. If you are honest, there is some attraction to rank high in a list. Or is it only because of the prices taht so many people are contributing to SDN since some few weeks? 😉
Where to start
The most popular project is SETI@Home. Google Compute/Folding@Home ranks just after it, from my point of view. Distributed.NET is a popular runner-up.
If you want to run your own distributed computing project, go to Übero. They provide a platform for free to use for just this purpose.
To quick start, find some useful resources below: