Yoyo@home/Interview Raid 2013

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On the occasion of their Raid 2013 the team L'Alliance Francophone made an interview with yoyo@home.

LAF: Could you introduce the team that is in charge of the project ?

yoyo: Behind this project is the Rechenkraft.net e.V. non profit organization. Rechenkraft is German for â??computing powerâ?.

In 2001 the internet presentation and forum Rechenkraft.net was born. Information about nearly all distributed computing projects are collected and discussed in the forum. In 2004 we decided to create a non profit organization and did our first foundation meeting. Since 2005 Rechenkraft.net is an official registered non profit organization. Our main goal is to spread the idea of distributed computing towards people who spent there computing resources and to scientist which have not enough money to by a super computer or high performance cluster.

In 2005 we decided to change the internet presentation into a wiki. Since 2007 we are awarding the Seal Of Approval to distributed computing projects to show new people which projects are worth to donate to. Since 2007 we are also an official partner of the WorldCommunityGrid.

We take part in Boinc workshops, scientific conferences and are contact partner for Germany TV- and radio stations and newspapers. We run the yoyo@home and RNA World Boinc projects and supported the Constellation project (e.g. to buy the first server). And we meet each other also in real life.

Currently there are 71 member in the Rechenkraft.net e.V. non profit organization, from different Boinc teams (even some without any team) and from different countries.

LAF: Where is the project localized ?

yoyo: The project is a German project. I'm living in Berlin and the server is a rented server, so I doesn't really know in which town the server is located.

LAF: When and how was the idea of the project born ?

yoyo: Interesting question and no short answer to it. At the beginning there was no plan to run a Boinc project. It just happened. But from the beginning:

I contribute to distributed computing projects since 1996, a time before SETI@home and before Boinc. In 1996 it was the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search project where my computer contributed to an account of a colleague. In 1997 I joined the RC5-56 and DES challenges of distributed.net and in 1999 the RC5-64 challenge.

2007, more than 10 years after I contributed to my first project, I wanted to know how the server side of a distributed computing project works. How workunits are distributed and so on. I joined the Boinc mailing lists to see what happens behind the scenes and read the documentation. Than Christian popped up and provided a fully configured Boinc server virtual machine. So I downloaded this VM and in March 2007 a Boinc server VM was running on my 1.6GHz, 500MB Ram Windows XP Laptop and distributed UPPERcase workunits.

Since I didn't know how to name the project, I just used my nick name appended with @home.

In June 2007 David Anderson announced the Wrapper, to run legacy applications in Boinc. I decided to check the Wrapper approach with the distributed.net client, which is available for a lot of operating systems and has many configuration possibilities. So after a weekend this was also running and the project was born.

After my wife switched the laptop off we decided to put the project to the Rechenkraft.net server. Than big teams joined and had fun with a race, but not the server :(. I was sitting on the airport, waiting for a flight, and checked the Boinc server. But the server was gone. I entered our team chat and asked what happened. The workunits went very short and thousands of racing computer where requesting work every minute. So the server was overloaded and the Boinc part was stopped. Still sitting on the airport we decided to rent an own server for yoyo@home and collected the money for renting the server for a year. 2 days after this the server was up on the new box and running.

The rest is more or less known:

  • In November 2007 the evolution@home project was started in yoyo@home. We have a long lasting relation to its author.
  • In March 2008 the Muon project got wrapped in yoyo@home.
  • In 2008 the ECM project was the next one, which is a base for a lot of number theory factorization projects.
  • In 2010 the Euler project got wrapped and afterwards the Harmonious Trees project.

LAF: In a few words, how would you define it ?

yoyo: It is a project which wraps existing (or new) computing projects into the Boinc world. In this case the project profits from the large Boinc community. The project application can be available as binary or in source code to be wrapped into a Boinc application.

It is not specific to any scientific direction. Currently it is mathematics, evolutionary research and particle physics.

LAF: What is the percentage of progress of different projects, how many years expected ?


  • The OGR project (with different ruler length) is running since 2007. Currently we run the 27 rulers. Yoyo@home provides ~ 20% of the OGR computing power. The project will finish in ~ 1 year.
  • Evolution@home doesn't really have an end. It is a simulation of mutations. The goal is to get as much as possible simulations. I think yoyo@home provides more than 90% of this project.
  • Muon will finish probably in 2015. I assume yoyo@home contributes 30% of this project.
  • ECM, there will be forever the need of integer factorization. So this project might run forever. yoyo@home contributes up to 70% to the ecm effort of the various subprojects.
  • The Euler project was already finished. It was nearly 100% done on yoyo@home. We verified all already found solutions and found a lot more. The results were published for open access.
  • HarmoniousTree will finish in the next days. It was entirely done in yoyo@home. Afterwards we will not start the next node level, we will first consolidate the results in a scientific paper.

LAF: Do you have any other ideas of projects ?

yoyo: I have some ideas. But since the project is done in my spare time, I don't want to talk about it until it is finished.

LAF: Have you thought about creating an application to the GPU ?

yoyo: Yes, I have though about it. But I think there will be no GPU application in the near future. Keep also in mind, that not all algorithm run faster on GPU than on CPU.

LAF: Does the application have any issue ?

yoyo: In short: ECM might use up to 1.8 GB of RAM and evolution@home doesn't have checkpoints. Beside this the applications are running very smooth.

LAF: In some days, our team will make a run on your project : What do you think about it ?

yoyo: I'm very happy to have one of the team with the most power on yoyo@home. A team, which was one of the first in one of the first races which crashed the yoyo@home server, which than leads to an own yoyo@home server.

You should always keep in mind, that yoyo@home runs 100% based on donations and in my spare time after my fulltime employee job. There are not millions of Euro of funding and no full time people who work for this project. So pleace bare with me if the server is not power full enough and if I don't react minutes after a problem.

At the end I want to say, that help is always welcome. Help to compile the applications on different operating systems. Help to enhance the screen saver. Help to enhance the applications. Help to search for additional projects which are worth to bring them the Boinc power. Help to create new projects in yoyo@home. And of course donations to run the server and join Boinc workshops and scientific meetings.

If you have any idea or want to provide help or want to run your own project (or know somebody who has a project) in yoyo@home, contact me.

LAF: Thank you for this interview.