|distributed.net Faq-O-Matic : the Client software : I'm confused about keys, stats units, nodes, stubs, packets, blocks, work units,...|
Terms used by the distributed.net client
Obsolete, historical terms:
The first and second generation of clients ran only crypto-projects: RC5 and DES. These two projects were sponsored by RSA and had a winner (and the prospect of monetary award), and as such were called contests.
Since a computer is capable of processing many hundreds of thousands of RC5 and DES keys per second, counting in single keys quickly becomes onerous, and the very first generation of clients introduced the unit of 228 keys, as a handier unit of measure. These first generation clients worked solely with this number, both as the number of keys it sent/received/processed as well as the number of keys used to represent "effort", or the "unit of of work" done, and what was displayed on the stats server. Consequently, this number of keys came to be known as a work-unit.
The second generation of clients introduced the ability to send/receive/process many more than 228 keys at once. For the purpose of (backwards-compatibility and) statistics, the 228 key "unit of of work" retained its meaning, but the term used to represent the number of keys being sent/received/processed at once had to be changed. Since the number of keys being sent/received/processed continued to be a multiple of 228, the unit being sent/received/processed was called a "block of work-units", or in short, a block.
With the introduction of non-crypto projects such as OGR, the terms contest, work-unit and block had to be reconsidered. OGR neither had a winner, nor did it use keys, nor did it have a fixed number of iterations ('keys' in crypto-parlance) per "unit-of-work", nor could multiple "units-of-work" be combined into "blocks of work-units" for sending/receiving/processing. Indeed, for OGR, there was a tendency to revert to the older meanings, since a stub is a work-unit in the oldest sense of the term, both as a literal "unit of work" and as the unit that is sent/received/processed.
To overcome this confusion, more generic terms project, stats-unit and packet came to replace the older contest, work-unit and block respectively.
However, old habits die hard, and the old and new terms are often used interchangeably. While not technically correct in the generic sense, the old terms are still perfectly valid for the crypto-contests, errr... crypto-projects. :)
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