|distributed.net Faq-O-Matic : How to participate : Will my old, slow computer really help?|
The key to completing our projects in a reasonable period of time is to get more computers, not necessarily more powerful computers. The computing power of the world's fleet of aging 386s and 486s far outweighs the (idle) computing power of any supercomputers we could conceivably recruit. An interesting point to consider: the DES contest message was deciphered by a Pentium 90 running FreeBSD with only 16 megabytes of RAM. Not big iron by a long shot. Both the 48-bit RC5 and the 56-bit DES challenges were cracked by machines not even in the top 20 in the stats. Everyone has a chance of finding the correct solution. Every computer contributing to the effort is an asset.
Note: Very old machines (pre-386 class) cannot be used at the present time. The RC5 algorithm, for instance, depends heavily on 32-bit data manipulations. The current set of clients all use 32-bit code that won't execute on these earlier machines.
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