Most of the time, most people’s computers are not being used. What if someone figured out how to create a peer-to-peer network of people’s processing power, of which people could lend out their processing power to others, in exchange for getting extra processing power back when you need it?
Following the successful implementation of SETI@home and what is sure to be a successful crack at the protein folding problem with Folding@home, perhaps some clever programmers will develop a P2P client that would allow anyone on the network to reap the power of extra CPU cycles of anyone else on the network. Of course you’ll need an API so that new programs as well as existing cycle-demanding applications can take advantage of it. With my current obsession with Mojoworld I could use all the extra power I can get. As it is, I have to wait several days for each minute of animation to render – especially when higher resolution and antialiasing settings are used.
I don’t think this is a matter of if, but when such an application will be created. Perhaps someone reading this site will be inspired enough to code it.
I can imagine as more of these applications are written, there will emerge a variety of CPU markets – some free, and some priced according to the amount you need. I’m sure there is already talk among some entrpreneurial spirits of creating a pay-per CPU giga-cycle in which the majority of those cycles are run on company owned massively parallel cycle-farms.