Intel has teamed up with Facebook to harness the processing power, and compassion, necessary to pursuing research projects aimed at finding cures for cancer, HIV, Alzheimer's and other diseases.
On Aug. 3, Intel launched a beta Facebook application called Progress Thru Processors, which users can download to donate their computers' idle processing power.
Medical research relies on complex calculations requiring considerable processing power, a lack of which can slow progress. Intel, along with GridRepublic, a nonprofit that pairs people with spare processing power, said it believes that individuals can help make a difference.
"In the same spirit as Intel's Small Things Challenge, Progress Thru Processors underscores our belief that small contributions made by individuals can collectively have a far-reaching impact on our world," Deborah Conrad, the vice president and general manager of Intel's corporate marketing group, said in a statement.
"By simply running an application on your computer, which uses very little [in the way of] incremental resources, you can expand computing resources to researchers working to make the world a better place," Conrad said.
Intel stressed that the application doesn't require users to leave their computers powered up unnecessarily, and that the application won't affect computing performance for users, as it activates only when spare capabilities are available.
Users can choose to contribute to the Rosetta@home project, which uses the processing power for the medical research mentioned above, to Climateprediction.net, which works to understand global climate changes and test climate models, or Africa@home, which focuses on combating disease transmission and studying the impact of anti-malarial drugs and vaccines in Africa.
"The more people we sign up, the greater the good we can collectively do," GridRepublic Executive Director Matt Blumberg said in a statement. "We're optimistic that the combination of the Facebook platform and Intel's global research will help bring large numbers of new people into volunteer computing, enabling research and discovery which would otherwise be impossible."