PRC (Public Resource Computing) is used in computer science to describe systems
where the public donates or sells computing resources to a given project. The
SETI@home and distributed.net projects are, perhaps the best examples of this
The SETI@home project, launched in 1999, is a widely-known example of a very simple grid computing project. Although it was not the first to use such techniques, and doesn't use all of the facilities of current grid capabilities, it has been followed by many others, covering tasks such as protein folding, research into drugs for cancer, mathematical problems and climate models. Most of these projects work by running as a screensaver on users' personal computers, which process small pieces of the overall data while the computer is either completely idle or lightly used. The first general purpose commercial grid (U.S. patent 6,463,457) was launched by Parabon Computation in 1999. A "general purpose" grid is a grid that is not "hardwired" to perform a specific task. For example, SETI@home's screensaver contains both code to processes radio telescope data and code to handle retrieving work and returning results. The two bodies of code are intertwined into a single program. In a general purpose grid, only the code required for retrieving work and returning results persists on the nodes. Code required to perform the distributed work is sent to the nodes separately. In this way, the nodes of a general purpose grid can be easily reprogrammed.
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