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12/8/2006
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New Service Lets PC Users Sell Spare CPU Cycles

An Italian programmer is trying to create a system that will pay PC users to rent out their systems to supercomputer-like distributed computing projects.

An Italian programmer has launched a service that may eventually pay PC users who rent out their systems to supercomputer-like distributed computing projects.

CPUShare is the brainchild of Andrea Arcangeli, a Linux developer. "CPUShare allows home users to profit from the significant power of their hardware that otherwise would be wasted every day," Arcangeli said on his Web site.

Distributed computing efforts that use consumer and business PCs is nothing new, and have included projects that corral thousands of computers to search for extraterrestrial radio signals (SETI@home) and ones that use a much smaller number of PCs to crack 60-year-old German Enigma ciphers. But the idea of assembling a network of machines, then charging clients to use it, is new.

In the CPUShare system, sellers will post asking bids on how much they want for their spare processor cycles, while buyers will put out bids on what they'll pay. Currently, Arcangeli is testing the system with virtual money called "CPUCoins," although several real money sellers' bids have been listed at 2 Euro cents per hour. No buyers have logged bids, however.

The CPUShare client software is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and can be downloaded from Arcangeli's Web site.

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