Idle uni PCs to be used as supercomputers

Forum votes to install software used to harness idle PC power

A university forum has voted to install software intended to turn idle university computers into a distributed supercomputer.

At the Better University Forum on Thursday evening, a student jury voted 88% in favour of installing charity research software BOINC.

Developed by the University of Berkeley, BOINC will allow Leeds University’s unused computers to run data calculations for researchers around the world, essentially forming a distributed supercomputer used to help research into diseases.

When added to the system, BOINC will only run calculations when a computer is not being used, and will promptly switch off with any sign of activity. By choosing to push forward with the research software next year, Leeds University joins a growing number of humanitarian institutions around the country, including the Universities of Westminster and Bath.

The idea was proposed by Ryan Hubball, a third year chemist annoyed at the wasted potential of the computers when left on during the day.

He added that “It would be great if vacant computers could do some good.” citing other instances of the project’s success such as earthquake detection and even help animate Toy Story 3.”

Other policies implemented by the forum have included the wearing of mortarboards in graduation ceremonies and the banning of bottled water from union shops.