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Desktop Grids as middleware

Agnes Szeberenyi introduces a new way to extend available resources for user communities

There is a growing demand for computing power and disk storage amongst scientists. On the other hand, there are over a billion personal computers (PCs) in the world, most of them in private homes and universities and idle for most of the time.

BOINC is an open source middleware for volunteer and grid computing that enables researchers to access the huge processing power of PCs (desktop grids) around the world. About 1 million PCs are already active in supporting science and use their idle time to run scientific applications through volunteer computing grids.

The European Desktop Grid Initiative (EDGI) has developed a bridge between Desktop Grids and EGI grids that consolidates the results achieved in previous projects. It enables integration of Desktop Grids (DGs) in Service Grids like EGI, to support user communities that are heavy users of Distributed Computing Infrastructures (DCIs) and require an extremely large number of CPUs and cores.

The EDGI project provides a workflow-oriented science gateway to enable easier access to the e-infrastructure and has established the International Desktop Grid Federation (IDGF) to coordinate DG-related activities in Europe and to attract more volunteers to donate resources.

Thanks to Desktop Grid monitoring, EDGI already fulfills the availability and reliability requirements of EGI. The main activity of the joint workplan between EGI and EDGI (agreed in November 2011) is to integrate Desktop Grids into EGI’s monitoring and accounting activities to guarantee seamless operation.
As it was announced at the EGI Operations Management Board meeting during the Community Forum 2012, the EDGI production infrastructure is already offered as a service for EGI, opening the possibilities of desktop grid computing to a wider scientific user community. The EDGI production infrastructure adds 130,000 CPUs to the EGI resources.

The activities in EDGI will be carried on by the IDGF Support Project (funded by the European Commission) starting in September 2012 to broaden scientific user communities of Desktop Grids on a local (private grids), national (NGI) and European (EGI) level. The project will help universities' e-infrastructures to connect otherwise idle PCs from their classrooms and offices to the European Grid Infrastructure. In addition, IDGF-SP will collect and analyze data that will help deploying idle PCs in an effective and energy efficient way.

How can EDGI help your VO?

For VO managers

  • Why? To provide more computing power to your VO users by extending the available resources with EDGES@home volunteers. This will add an extra 18k CPU to your VO.

  • How? If you are interested please contact the EDGI VO administrators at

For scientists

  • Why? You can access an extra 18k CPU under your usual VO’s resources. Shorter queue, less waiting time for your job to be executed, faster results.

  • How? Ask your VO manager of your ARC, gLite or UNICORE virtual organization to contact the contact the EDGI VO administrators at .

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