Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing

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BOINC logo
Developer(s) University of California, Berkeley
Stable release

7.6.22 Windows 17 December 2015; 53 days ago (2015-12-17)

7.6.22 Mac OS X 17 December 2015; 53 days ago (2015-12-17)

7.2.42 Linux 28 February 2014; 22 months ago (2014-02-28)

7.4.41 Android

22 January 2015; 12 months ago (2015-01-22)
Preview release

7.4.22 Linux

17 September 2014; 16 months ago (2014-09-17)
Operating system Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, Android, FreeBSD
Type Grid computing and Volunteer computing
License LGPL[1]
Project licensing varies

The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC, pronounced /bɔɪŋk/ - rhymes with "oink"[2]), is an open-source middleware system that supports volunteer and grid computing. Originally developed to support the SETI@home project, it became generalized as a platform for other distributed applications in areas as diverse as mathematics, medicine, molecular biology, climatology, environmental science, and astrophysics. BOINC aims to enable researchers to tap into the enormous processing power of multiple personal computers around the world.

BOINC development originated with a team based at the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley and led by David Anderson, who also leads SETI@home. As a high-performance distributed computing platform, BOINC has about 242,810 active participants and 383,337 active computers (hosts) worldwide processing on average 10.915 petaFLOPS as of 1 January 2016.[3] The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds BOINC through awards SCI/0221529,[4] SCI/0438443[5] and SCI/0721124.[6]It is acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the largest computing grid in the world.[7]

BOINC code runs on various operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android,[8] Linux and FreeBSD.[9] BOINC is free software released under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).


BOINC was originally developed to manage the SETI@home project.

The original SETI client was a non-BOINC software exclusively for SETI@home. As one of the first volunteer grid computing projects, it was not designed with a high level of security. Some participants in the project attempted to cheat the project to gain "credits", while some others submitted entirely falsified work. BOINC was designed, in part, to combat these security breaches.[10]

The BOINC project started in February 2002 and the first version was released on April 10, 2002. The first BOINC-based project was Predictor@home launched on June 9, 2004. In 2009, AQUA@home deployed multi-threaded CPU applications for the first time,[11] followed by the first OpenCL application in 2010.

As of January 2016, 58 BOINC projects are active.[12]

Design and structure[edit]

BOINC Manager icon

In essence, BOINC is software that can use the unused CPU and GPU cycles on a computer to do scientific computing—what one individual does not use of his/her computer, BOINC uses. In late 2008, BOINC's official website announced that NVIDIA (a leading GPU manufacturer) had developed a system called CUDA that uses GPUs for scientific computing. With NVIDIA's assistance, some BOINC-based projects (e.g., SETI@home, MilkyWay@home) now have applications that run on NVIDIA GPUs using CUDA. Beginning in October 2009, BOINC added support for the ATI/AMD family of GPUs also. These applications run from 2× to 10× faster than the former CPU-only versions. In 7.x preview versions, GPU support (via OpenCL) was added for computers using Mac OS X with AMD Radeon graphic cards.

BOINC consists of a server system and client software that communicate with each other to distribute, process, and return workunits.

User interfaces[edit]

BOINC can be controlled remotely by remote procedure calls (RPC), from the command line, and from the BOINC Account Manager.

BOINC Manager currently has two "views": the Advanced View and the Simplified GUI. The Grid View was removed in the 6.6.x clients as it was redundant.

The appearance (skin) of the Simplified GUI is user-customizable, in that users can create their own designs.

Account managers[edit]

A BOINC Account Manager is an application that manages multiple BOINC project accounts across multiple computers (CPUs) and operating systems. Account managers were designed for people who are new to BOINC or have several computers participating in several projects. The account manager concept was conceived and developed jointly by GridRepublic and BOINC. Current account managers include:

  • BAM! (BOINC Account Manager) (The first publicly available Account Manager, released for public use on May 30, 2006)
  • GridRepublic (Follows the idea of keep it simple and keep it neat when it comes to account management)
  • Charity Engine (Non-profit account manager for hire, uses prize draws and continuous charity fundraising to motivate people to join the grid)
  • Dazzler (Opensource Account Manager, to ease management institutional resources)

Credit system[edit]

Main article: BOINC Credit System

The BOINC Credit System is designed to avoid cheating by validating results before granting credit.

  • A credit management system helps to ensure that users are returning results which are both scientifically and statistically accurate.
  • Online distributed computing is almost entirely a volunteer endeavor. For this reason, projects are dependent on a complicated and variable mix of new users, long-term users, and retiring users.

BOINC projects[edit]

There are about 60 projects currently listed,[13] of which about half yield published reports.[14] The licensing of the projects varies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BOINC is now distributed under the Lesser GPL, BOINC, University of California, Berkeley, 2005-01-15, retrieved 2012-08-19 
  2. ^ Gonzalez, Laura Lynn, ed. (7 January 2007). "Rosetta@home". YouTube. Rosetta@home. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "BOINC". Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  4. ^ Research and Infrastructure Development for Public-Resource Scientific Computing, The National Science Foundation
  5. ^ SCI: NMI Development for Public-Resource Computing and Storage, The National Science Foundation
  6. ^ SDCI NMI Improvement: Middleware for Volunteer Computing, The National Science Foundation
  7. ^ "Largest computing grid". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Put your Android device to work on World Community Grid!". July 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Manual sites of FreeBSD system". January 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ Anderson, David P. "Public Computing: Reconnecting People to Science". Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  11. ^ Kamran Karimi, Neil Dickson, and Firas Hamze (2010). "High-Performance Physics Simulations Using Multi-Core CPUs and GPGPUs in a Volunteer Computing Context" (PDF). International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications. doi:10.1177/1094342010372928. 
  12. ^ Willy de Zutter. "BOINCstats/BAM! | Project stats info". Retrieved 2015-12-31. 
  13. ^ BOINCstats, Willy de Zutter, retrieved 2012-08-19 
  14. ^ Publications by BOINC projects, BOINC wiki, University of California, Berkeley, retrieved 2012-08-19 

External links[edit]