NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Washington and IBM said Thursday they will work together to harness the computing power of nearly 1 million idling computers in order to run calculations that could help develop more durable rice strains.
The Nutritious Rice for the World project will use IBM’s World Community Grid to run a three-dimensional modeling program developed at UW to study rice proteins and combine the resulting information with traditional cross-breeding techniques.
The project was funded in part by $2 million from the National Science Foundation.
The World Community Grid has over 380,000 members in more than 200 countries who donate the computational power of nearly one million computers. That extra computational power rates alongside a supercomputer, and will allow the rice project to complete its calculations, which would take over 200 years using the conventional computer systems, in under two years, UW said.
The goal is to enable rice-producing countries to become more immune to future climate changes because they will be able to cross-breed rice that is more resistant to changing weather.
"The issue is that there are between 30,000 and 60,000 different protein structures to study," explained Ram Samudrala, an associate professor in UW’s Department of Microbiology.
The computational revolution allows scientists around the world to tackle almost unimaginably complex problems as a community, and in real-time," said Robert Zieglier, who directs the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute.
The World Community Grid works by requesting donors’ idle computers to perform certain computations and then send the results back to the WCG server, which will then prompt the computer for more work.