Gateway is planning to network all its computers on display in its US retail stores into a single supercomputer.
According to The Washington Post, the company plans to sell the combined processing power to corporate customers in need of extra computing punch.
The PCs will continue to run demos for customers, while in the background they will be working on tasks such as drug design or geoscience research.
Gateway is the latest company to use grid computing, where processing power is bought and sold just like utilities such as electricity.
Analysts are undecided whether Gateway or its partner United Devices, which makes grid computing software, will attract many customers.
But the feeling is that since Gateway already has thousands of computers sitting largely idle on display shelves, the grid computing idea has nothing to lose.
With 7,800 PCs, each with an average processing power of 2GHz, Gateway says it has about 14 teraflops of computing power.
It is offering its supercomputer function for an introductory price of 15 cents per computer hour, plus set-up fees.
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