Most BOINC projects use volunteer compute resources coordinated by a centralized server where work tasks are also returned when complete. A controlling server for a particular project hands out blocks of work on request, records the results returned and tracks the effort of each participant.
The volunteered resources can come from a variety of types of systems ranging from GPGPU (general-purpose GPU), to multiple powerful CPUs, to the ubiquitous smartphone.
BOINC has been used as the underlying foundation for a number of distributed computing projects. Some BOINC projects include:
- SETI@home, which searches space for signals from intelligent life. BOINC was originally created for the SETI project.
- Rosetta@home, which simulates protein formation for disease research.
- Asteroids@home, which performs complex computational analysis of astronomical imagery to find the direction, speed, distance, rotation and other information about asteroids.
- Einstein@home which searches for evidence of continuous gravitational-wave sources, which could identify objects such as spinning non-axisymmetric neutron stars.
- The Clean Energy Project, which studies potential materials for the production of renewable energy, used BOINC to find about 36000 compounds that show up to two times better performance than conventional materials.