HTC has announced the “HTC Power To Give” project to turn smartphones into a supercomputer for research. The company has partnered with the University of California, Berkeley and users can volunteer to transfer some spare processing power to aid Alzheimer’s research and other projects.
The HTC Power To Give project was announced on Feb. 24 at the Mobile World Congress on Monday. Android smartphones can be enabled to help projects in the fields of medicine, science and the project will work with David Anderson, head of the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Networking Computing (BOINC).
According to the company, if one million smartphones participated in the volunteer computing project it would be equal to one PetaFLOP, described as the processing power equivalent to “a thousand trillion floating point operations per second.” The fastest supercomputer is located in China and is capable of 54.9 PetaFLOPs.
The extra computing power would be a boon to researchers analyzing data and could potentially reduce research cycles by weeks and even decades, HTC says. The company cites the success of IBM’s World Community Grid with volunteers contributing 900,000 years of processing time since its launch in 2004.
“With HTC Power To Give, we want to make it possible for anyone to dedicate their unused smartphone processing power to contribute to projects that have the potential to change the world,” said Cher Wang, HTC chairwoman, in a statement. Wang said over 780 million Android smartphones were shipped in 2013 and when the project becomes available to all Android devices, even a one percent op-in would dramatically increase the processing power for research programs.
The HTC Power To Give project will be available as an app that can be downloaded from the Google Play store. Users can select which programs they want to give their processing power to and the app will run when the phone is being charged and connected to WiFi. HTC Power To Give is currently in beta and available for HTC One, HTC Butterfly and HTC Butterfly s but the company said it plans to open the project to all Android smartphones within six months.
For those looking to donate processing power ahead of the HTC Power To Give project, BOINC lets individuals donate their computers for projects in various fields. Users can enroll to help in the search for pulsars; malaria research; climate change models; the search for extraterrestrials with SETI@Home; and improve the Large Hadron Collider.