Overclock puts your idle servers to work for other people

Putting unused CPUs to work is nothing new. In the modern era, it started in 1999 when the SETI Institute launched SETI@Home, a screensaver that also examined slices of radio signals gathered by a giant telescope for signs of intergalactic life. Nineteen years later, and ET still hasn’t phoned us.

But the concept grew to dozens of science and math-related projects. I took part in the World Community Grid run by IBM for years, letting my idle PC look for potential cures for AIDS and Ebola.

These are all client-side apps that people ran on their personal PC. Now a startup, misnamed Overclock (overclocking is a term for running your CPU faster than it is rated, something only system builders do), is doing something on the server side and for business.

Overclock recently launched what it calls the Akash Network, an open marketplace that connects companies with unused compute capacity to users who need it. The company claims up to 85 percent of the world’s compute resources are sitting unused, a rather radical claim, which it doesn’t back up.

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