Remember SETI@home, the scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)? It runs on BOINC.
According to Wikipedia:
The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) is a non-commercial middleware system for volunteer computing, originally developed to support the SETI@home project, but intended to be useful for other applications in areas as diverse as mathematics, medicine, molecular biology, climatology, and astrophysics. The intent of BOINC is to make it possible for researchers to tap into the enormous processing power of personal computers around the world.
Though I believe SETI@home (or indeed SETI) is a grossly misdirected scientific effort (it's a matter of personal opinion and I would wholeheartedly support its enthusiasts), its most pragmatic outcome must be BOINC.
I downloaded the BOINC software today to lend support to the LHC@home project. Unfortunately, there's currently no data to be worked upon (project is expected to gather steam once CERN goes live with LHC in the mid of this year). I then turned my attention to Einstein@home, which works full throttle. The reporting deadline from my computer was the 16th of June and Andromeda would need 86 CPU-hours of data crunching on the downloaded material. However, the total hours I would accrue by then would be nowhere near 86.
I guess BOINC is more tuned towards desktops and servers that remain on for extended periods or have enough idle time. I'll have to wait for my first desktop to join the BOINC fraternity.