How can we improve Azure Virtual Machines?

Allow easy donation of unused CPU cycles to cancer research, Folding@home, etc.

I would like to easily 'donate' my unused CPU cycles towards a good cause, such as cancer research within the Folding@home project.

Ideally this setting would be incorporated into the config of my worker roles, or within the Windows Azure portal.

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    ChrisLamont shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    23 comments

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      • isadora commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This will likely change with the advent of large scale quantum computers, which will be able to sort through data in a fraction of the time it takes their classical counterparts. However since we're at least a decade away from being able to harness that power for data analytics, for now scientists depend on other means for getting the most out of their data, one of the most successful methods being volunteer computing.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        On some of the "better value" azure virtual machine types, such as the B series, CPU cycles which your VM doesn't consume is simply available for other VMs on the same host. Be reminded that the VM to host density at class B is already very high with vCPU to logical processor rates likely running over 30:1. When large enough numbers of machines are idle, whole hosts can be turned off to save even more power. Ever noticed how sluggish some of the azure hosted VMs are at class B?

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      • Ondřej Sojka commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Do not. Let the users decide to run BOINC on their own VMs (I do it on my MSDN subscription at the end of the month)

      • Mark commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        No, please don't do that. This will slow everyone else down.

      • Mike Durkee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I DO NOT AGREE TO DONATION OF UNUSED CPU CYCLES.
        I CLICK TO CLOSE A BUBBLE WINDOWS THAT "ALWAYS" ASK
        IF I WANT TO DONATE TIME. IT POP UP AGAIN SAYING, "THANK-YOU FOR DONATING TIME. I'M UPSET. PLEASE ENSURE THAT MY COMPUTER IS NOT DONATING TIME TO ANYONE!
        I WILL BE WAITING FOR YOUR QUICK REPLY TO MY EMAIL.
        -MDURKEE

      • Chris Pietschmann commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I completely agree with Carl. While this idea sounds good on the surface, it would really end up increasing Microsoft costs of running the service resulting in higher prices. People are already complaining about Azure prices being too high. If you want to donate "unused CPU cycles", then install that stuff on your own computers and leave them running 24 hours a day.

      • Carl Hörberg commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I think it's a bad idea, you loose all the benefits of VPS, less clients can share a computer, more heat will be generated, more electricity will be consumed etc. all ending up with higher prices.

      • ChrisLamont commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks for the information Joannes! I didn't know that there were plans to create smaller VM's... which would actually pose a challenge to what I came up with.

        Well I was pleasantly suprised to see that Microsoft and the NSF are offering US-based Scientists 3 years of free access to Windows Azure. This announcement carries the intent of what I was hoping for, but without the complication of distributed computing.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/science/05cloud.html

        Lets hope that this becomes a positive synergy, and carries onto year 4 and beyond.

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