The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) is a program that provides a grid network to all kinds of scientific computing projects. Projects recompile the BOINC software for their own purposes, which allows them to tap into the BOINC grid network. A grid network is a network that allows a single node to interact with a multitude of computer networks. BOINC allows the computer worker to directly connect to a chosen single node. BOINC is available on numerous operating systems including Android, Windows, macOS, and various flavours of Linux.
BOINC software consists of four parts. The BOINC client, which handles communication - the BOINC manager, which is the GUI - the application the current project is running - and the screensaver.
If a user decides to contribute to a project, they download the specific application software of the project and then starts downloading the work units from the project server. After evaluating and computing, the files are uploaded again. Depending on the project and user settings it may take up to several days for the researching computer to report the completed tasks. Upon reporting, the server evaluates how much work has been done up to that point and rewards the account the computer is linked to with credits. However, the credit can not be claimed until the work unit is verified by another BOINC user. The results must agree for credit to be rewarded.
BOINC has the great advantage that any standard computing resource can be measured and rewarded. Projects like RADIOACTIVE@HOME and Quake Catcher Network are good examples of how inexpensive equipment and mobile phones can be used to create a distributed network of scientific equipment. BOINC is supported by the National Science Foundation.
BOINC credits are granted as Cobblestones - a certain amount of BOINC work. Cobblestones are being measured as a 1/200 day of CPU time on a reference computer that does 1,000 MFLOPS based on the Whetstone benchmark.
The aim of the Gridcoin project is to shift the computational power from meaningless hashing (which arose in other crypto-currencies) to BOINC projects.