A US based company has developed what it claims is the world's most powerful supercomputer by linking ten million individual PCs over the Internet to analyse data.
Cerentis said the idea behind Terra One was to put the idle time that PCs spent running fancy screensavers and wasting electricity to good use by enabling registered users to download its own small screensaver program from its Web site.
This retrieves a chunk of data or a socalled unit from the Terra Server over the Internet, analyses that data and reports the results back to the server. When customers need to use their computers again, the screensaver instantly deactivates itself and will only continue with its analysis when the user finishes work.
Internet access is only required when the PC needs to swap data units - a matter of a few minutes a week, and the average processing time for a unit on a standard PC is seven to ten days, depending on how much time the PC is in screensaver mode.
Although data is distributed to many personal computers, Cerentis said that high levels of encryption made it virtually impossible for any individual to "read" the information contained in a given unit and, as a result, it was targeting the offering at governments, scientists and corporations.
The company charges its customers for processing and analysing their data, and has partnered with such large online retailers as Amazon.com, Dell and etoys to offer a rewards program to registered users.
Each processed data unit builds up credits that can eventually be used to make purchases at these and other online stores, and a Cerentis spokesperson said that such Terrapoints would be added to users' accounts.
He explained: "The idea behind Terrapoints is for your computer to earn its keep, so while users shouldn't expect to make millions, depending on how many units the user processes, they could end up with a dozen paperbacks or a few CD's each year."
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