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 Frequenty Asked Questions

What are these "clients" that you talk about here?
Distributed computing involves transferring data blocks from the distributed computing project to each personal computer participating in the project. The transferring computer on the project end is referred to as the "server" and the application on your personal computer is referred to as the "client". Each distributed computing project has a different client.

How much do they pay us to run a distributed computing client?
At the moment, nothing. Two distributed computing companies intended to pay users to run their clients on various projects. However, distributed computing seems to be too new for the business model to have caught on yet. No one hired either company for any projects, and both companies have folded.

Other groups are talking about putting up paid distributed computing projects, but none have emerged yet.

How much energy is wasted by running all these distributed computing clients?
Assuming each CPU is left on for 24 hours a day (the worst case calculation), and that the average CPU consumes 50 watts of power (just the CPU - no monitors or peripherals), the monthly power usage will be 36.5 KW hours. If the average home electric bill is in the 700 KWh range, then one CPU would contribute only 5% to the electric bill in question. If electricity is charged at 10 cents per KWh, then the monthly cost would be US$3.65.

On a larger scale, calculations suggest that a distributed computing project running on 100,000 clients will produce only 0.0001% of the world's carbon dioxide production per year.

These calculations were done for the "average" CPU - that means a PC. Macs on average use less power, so should have a smaller impact. Also, the computer was presumably going to be on during some of this time anyway. In the case of a server, the computer was going to be running 24/7, so the extra power to run a distributed client would be minimal.

- data source: faq

What the heck are "work units"?
Distributed computing splits a project into small units that a desktop computer can solve within a reasonable time. When these units are completed, the results are returned to the originating project and the user is credited for completing that "work unit". The credit for finishing that work unit is also tallied to the team (if any) that the user belongs to.

How long does it take to complete a work unit?
The time varies by both the project and the speed of the a computer on which the client is run. See the FAQ for each project for more specific answers.

My computer is really slow. Would it make a difference?
Yes! Every computer matters. Cumulatively, the small producers represent most of our production. The majority of other teams are the same way.

Work units are transferred over the internet, is this a security problem?
Since data rather than program code is transferred on most projects, only the integrity of that work unit's data could be at risk. Other potential security problems are not changed by the presence or absence of a distributed computing client. Folding@home does download crunching cores as needed from the Stanford servers, this might or might not be a security risk. To date, none of the projects that Team MacNN endorses have been found to contain security holes.

Do I have to join a team?
No, you can crunch solo. Teams are for having general fun, and to sign up more people with the promise of exciting competition.

I am already on another team. Will my existing units be lost if I join Team MacNN?
SETI@home, Ubero, and Distributed Folding allow your existing units to transfer with you to a new team. RC5 and Folding@home do not allow your previous credits to follow you to another team. However, your personal stats will still show all units crunched. We will update this answer as more Mac distributed computing clients are released.

What if I want to switch from Team MacNN to another team?
Not everyone can stay in the limelight of the best team. If you feel the need to leave, there are many other teams to choose from. Some might even have a future.

Can units be transferred from one distributed computing project to another?
No, completed units cannot transfer between separate projects.

I'm not a member of Team MacNN, but your proxy & stats service sounds cool. Can I use them?
Sure, just join Team MacNN. Or stay on your present team, but contact us at for permission. We may want a small monthly fee to help defray our server and bandwidth costs.

I administrate 5000 computers that I plan to install SETI@home on. Can your server handle the stats load?
Possibly. Please email for clearance before putting a large number of computers on our proxy service. But do join Team MacNN in the meantime and check back about the proxy service. We hope to increase the capacity of the proxy/stats server over time.

These stats and proxy services must cost a lot to maintain. Anything I can do to help?
We accept paypal donations. We also have a list of affiliate accounts setup that pay a little bit when you buy from them. It doesn't hurt to click through these links when you are going to shop from these stores. Every little bit helps.

Computer memory:
Macintosh products:

What do the proxy servers look like?
Two boxes are used for the proxy servers. You can see them here.

How did Team MacNN get started?
Team MacNN began in this thread. We started in SETI@home, and jumped into RC5 over a year later. It would be another year before we added Ubero, the other projects followed more quickly.

Um, this whole distributed computing thing sounds pretty weird. Does anyone actually do this?
Only a few million people. Welcome to the future.

This site stinks. Who do I blame?
Site content was primarily written by reader50. Web site design by Misha Sakellaropoulo, reader50, and Initial RC5 instructions and assorted other details provided by Scott Jaffa. Site designed originally by Mark Hershenson and Lon Hutchison. Site redesign and backend reorganization using GeekLog was done by Kyle Rove.

Last Updated Sunday, March 07 2004 @ 01:03 PM