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Vodafone becomes UK’s top contributor of computer processing power in war against COVID-19

11 Sep 2020Technology

Plans in place to become a top 10 global contributor

Vodafone is now the UK’s number one daily contributor to the World Community Grid – the leading global volunteer-led organisation of nearly 790,000 individuals and organisations donating computing processing power to advance scientific research into human health, poverty and sustainability.

Within a few months, we aim to become a top ten daily contributor worldwide and look at ways to contribute more spare processing power as we accelerate the migration of our core networks and IT to the cloud. This frees up redundant hardware and extra spare capacity from new virtual machines (which emulate industrial computers) to donate to the grid, while still being able to drive our 5G services and Internet of Things (IoT) activities.

As a large contributor to the grid, we enable scientists signed up to the service to run more complex computer simulations than any other member in the UK. What started nine years ago with Sami Gabriel, a Distinguished Engineer at Vodafone Group’s Research & Development centre, donating the processing power of a single computer system, has grown exponentially. The team has continually added hardware over the decade and is now contributing the equivalent of around two and half years of spare processing power every day.

Vodafone Group Chief Technology Officer Johan Wibergh said: “With this project and others we are helping academics and scientists complete their research within months as opposed to years, and at the same time, tackle the growing global concern about technology trash from discarded PCs, electronics and phones.

“As we move the remaining 50% of our European network to the cloud using faster and more energy efficient virtual machines, we will either reuse, recycle or resell redundant hardware.” 

20-years ago when supercomputers were the size of a small building and cost a fortune, academics and researchers could only dream of using them for their own work. Then with good connectivity came the concept of grid computing where the combined efforts of a geographically distributed network of many smaller computers can deliver the processing power of a super-computer.  

Having helped on projects from mapping rainfall in Africa to combating childhood cancer and AIDS, the Vodafone R&D team more recently focussed their attention on the fight against COVID-19. They have contributed more than 75 years of computing resources in just a few months to assists scientists at Scripps Research, which is conducting molecular modelling simulations to look for possible candidates for the development of treatments for COVID-19. Only this week, we connected another computer, internally called ‘Work Horse 01’, which singly is donating 80 days of processing power every 24 hours.

Vodafone is helping humanitarian science on two fronts. In addition to being an active member of the World Community Grid, we also developed DreamLab with the Vodafone Foundation, a specialist app that allows our mobile customers in 16 countries to offer the processing power of their smartphones while they sleep to speed up cancer and coronavirus research.


Vodafone Green Network

Today’s announcement follows Vodafone’s recent pledge to power our European network with 100% renewable electricity no later than July 2021. This will create a Green Gigabit Net for customers across 11 markets that will grow sustainably using only power from wind, solar or hydro sources.

About The World Community Grid

The World Community Grid enables anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet to donate their unused computing power to advance cutting-edge scientific research. The World Community Grid has supported 31 research projects to date, including searches for more effective treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases. Other projects are looking for low-cost water filtration systems and new materials for capturing solar energy efficiently.


For further information

Vodafone Group

Media Relations
[email protected]

Investor Relations
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About Vodafone

Vodafone is a leading technology communications company keeping society connected and building a digital future for everyone.

Vodafone is focused on two scaled and differentiated regional platforms in Europe and Africa.  We operate mobile and fixed networks in 22 countries and partner with mobile networks in 48 more.  As at 31 March 2020 we had over 300m mobile customers, more than 27m fixed broadband customers and over 22m TV customers. 

We connect for a better future.  We are optimistic about how technology and connectivity can enhance the future and improve people's lives. Through our business, we aim to build a digital society that enhances socio-economic progress, embraces everyone and does not come at the cost of our planet. That is why we have committed to improve one billion lives and halve our environmental impact by 2025. 

For more information, please visit: www.vodafone.com.

About Vodafone Foundation

Vodafone Foundation is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Vodafone Foundation is an independent UK registered charity, registered charity number 1089625.

For more information, please visit www.vodafonefoundation.org.