Will running the World Community Grid Software cost me more in electricity?

The amount of electrical energy consumed by your computer or other computing device is in many ways related to how much processing that it is doing at any given time. If it is sitting completely idle, then it uses relatively little power (usually about 50% of the maximum value). Actively using the device and simultaneously using more programs causes the device to consume more power. The World Community Grid software runs during times at which your device would otherwise be idle. This will cause it to use slightly more electricity (power) and therefore you may see a slight increase in your electricity costs. Exactly how much this increase will impact you depends on conditions where you live and how you have set your preferences. In most cases, the impact will be the equivalent of an additional low wattage light bulb. If these costs are a concern, you may limit the operational time for the software through preference settings on your Settings page or on your computer.

The default values of the BOINC agent are set so that the impact on average computers is minimal. Setting this to a higher value increases energy consumption and lowering it reduces energy consumption. We have chosen 60% because for most computers this figure seems to keep the energy consumption from increasing significantly and keeps laptop computers from getting too hot. In a multiple processor computer, reducing the number of processors permitted to run World Community Grid software may also control energy consumption. However, different machines vary in energy consumption patterns, so the maximum percent of the processor time and number of processors to be used by World Community Grid may be changed to custom values as follows:

  • To change your preferences for all computers under your member name, sign on to our website and go to your Settings page. Select “Device Manager”, then “Device Profiles from the left hand Navigation. Click the Profile Name that you want to alter and follow the instructions to change the preferences for your computer(s) and save. The new settings will take effect when the agent software next communicates with the servers.
  • To change the preferences for a particular computer under your member name. Double left click on the World Community Grid, or BOINC, icon in the system tray of the appropriate computer. Select Advanced View (if on Simple View) and from the menu at the top of the BOINC Manager select “Advanced”, then “Preferences” and designate your preferences and select “OK”. The setting changes made here take effect immediately and override those in the device profile above.
Changing the above settings will correspondingly increase or decrease the amount of contribution your computer is making to the research projects.

What about connection costs?

The only costs associated with the connection depend on your service with your ISP. Uploads and downloads do not typically require lengthy connections, however busy periods or maintenance outages may impact your connection.

Additional information on connections may be found here.

What energy benefits are realized by performing these computations on World Community Grid?

By utilizing idle capacity on existing computing devices, you arguably avoid the energy associated with manufacturing the additional servers which would be deployed to perform the computations. This realizes energy and resource savings for the materials and processes required to manufacture the servers and components.

By utilizing the power of World Community Grid, simulations can be run which mitigate the need to use materials, equipment, and living systems to perform research activities. While laboratory research will still be required to derive environmental or health benefits in the society at large, the research activities can be more finely focused, minimizing the laboratory research required and thus the materials and energy required to do the work.

The net societal benefit of the use of World Community Grid far outweighs the minimal additional energy which may be drawn from the otherwise idle devices. The power of the grid enables researchers to complete computations in months instead of years and bring new, exciting innovations and solutions to health and environmental issues which affect our communities, our global neighbors and the environment.

How can I help reduce the energy usage associated with my computer?

The World Community Grid software and the workstation power management software may work in a complementary fashion. A World Community Grid participating computer may be set so that when it is in active use, the World Community Grid software harvests the unused CPU time. When a computer is not in active use for more than ten minutes, then power management software may be activated in accordance with the user's setting to enable energy saving. This may be enabled by going to your Device Profiles and selecting your 'Default' (or appropriate) profile and then selecting the 'Power Saving' option. There's plenty of computing power in the majority of our member's computers – enough to do their job, be productive, contribute to humanitarian research and still conserve energy at the end of the day.

By utilizing the Power–Saving Capability, we can all actively work towards reducing our energy use. And if you also participate in World Community Grid, you will be contributing to valuable humanitarian research.