VAIO Downtime to Aid Researchers Worldwide

by Team Sony 10/21/2010, in Contact the Blog

As a tech nerd, one of the things I love most about my job is the constant exposure to new technology.

In my position, I’m surrounded by all the ideas our engineers are working on and often I get to experiment with what’s being developed long before it ever hits a retail shelf.

And after all these years – it never fails – I continue to be stunned by what new technology enables us to do.

Here’s just one example.

Researchers looking to make advancements in medicine, science and other fields require major computing power to run experiments, simulations, etc.  But often these non-profit research programs don’t have the resources to purchase the costly super computers they require.

As a result, a group of dedicated software programmers and engineers have developed a fascinating solution.  Your VAIO PC and IBM’s World Community Grid can make all the difference without lifting a finger – literally.

How it works:

Through advanced networking  technology that combines little pieces of spare processing power from millions of PCs around the globe, scientist are granted access to what is the equivalent of one of the world’s fastest super computers.  This technology speeds up research by crunching numbers and performing simulations that would have otherwise took hundreds of years to perform on typical computers.

When you activate the World Community Grid on your VAIO, it creates a “free and open source lab for researchers around the globe” by tapping your PCs surplus processing power.  It detects idle time in your computer activity – when you’re away from the PC, for example – and takes advantage of those lulls by initiating calculations.

Simply put, the World Community Grid goes to work when you’re not.

Once you start typing or browsing again, the World Community Grid app stops immediately – so it never interferes with what you’re doing.

The app even lets you track your activity with a screensaver indicating what project your computer is working on and the progress you’re helping to make towards that research.

A Smallpox Miracle:

IBM and others sponsored a research project aimed at accelerating the discovery of a cure for smallpox.

By leveraging the power of distributed computing, scientist were able to screen 35 million potential drug molecules against several smallpox proteins to identify good candidates for developing into smallpox treatments.

In the first 72 hours, 100,000 results were returned and by the end of the project, 44 strong treatment candidates had been identified.

Out of the success of this early project, World Community Grid was born and opened to the public.

Why it’s important:

Now, with the aid of the World Community Grid, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute are making advances in HIV/AIDS drug research.  Meanwhile, French scientists are tackling the proteins involved in muscular dystrophy. Scientists at the University of Washington are also hard at work, developing hardier and healthier strains of rice – a staple important to many people around the world.

As more people participate, the computing power of World Community Grid grows exponentially and more research projects can leverage its power to uncover solutions that benefit us all.

As more people participate, the computing power of the World Community Grid grows exponentially and more research projects can leverage its power to uncover solutions that benefit us all.

How Sony is involved:

Sony has partnered with the World Community Grid to further assist with the development of this life-changing technology.  Starting now, all Sony VAIO PCs – excluding Atom based laptops – will come equipped with World Community Grid software that users can opt to run.  Sony fans already equipped with a VAIO can download the app here.

So join the VAIO team now!  Click the live VAIO team ticker below for real time stats on the contributions our team is already making.  In fact, as of the date of this article, VAIO owners have already contributed over 22,900 hours of processing time!

So as more and more Sony fans join the cause, the computing power of the World Community Grid grows exponentially and more research projects can leverage its power to uncover solutions that benefit us all.  And as our team grows, I’ll provide  regular updates on the contributions Sony fans are making plus bring you behind-the-scenes interviews with the people behind the technology and stories from research projects that benefit from your processing time.

Read more about World Community Grid here.

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