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Startup targets PC gamers to build decentralised supercomputer

US-based Salad Technologies has been tapping up PC gamers to donate their surplus capacity for cryptocurrency mining for several years now, but it is now turning its attention to diversifying its workloads

Gamers are being urged to donate their idle PC compute power to a US-based startup that has set its sights on creating a distributed computing network that it hopes will go on to become the world’s largest supercomputer.

Utah-based Salad Technologies said its setup will provide digital rewards to PC gamers that  donate the processing power of their idle rigs to end-user organisations that want to draw on these spare resources to carry out advanced computing tasks.  

The company claims a quarter of a million PC gamers have joined forces with the company since Salad Technologies was founded in 2018, with the company initially focusing on using their idle compute power to validate blockchain transactions via an open source desktop app.

“To-date, Salad’s network has logged tens of millions of compute hours, boasting nearly 10,000 unique daily active users,” the company said, in a statement.

Now, however, the company is expanding the use cases for this idle compute power beyond mining cryptocurrencies to include medical research, engineering and artificial intelligence tasks. “With average network performance steady at more than 30 petaFLOPS, Salad’s computational [environment] is already besting the world’s ninth-fastest supercomputer, and peak performance periods have seen double that number,” the company said.

The company is set to debut a partner marketplace in due course that will enable its community of PC gamers to pick from a menu of high-performance computing tasks it would like to donate their processing power too, which they will earn rewards on.

“While away from the keyboard, Salad users share compute resources to earn rewards value for games, gift cards, and subscriptions from a library of more than 15,000 digital rewards,” the company said. “In the last three months alone, these [users] have collectively generated $500,000 in rewards value and redeemed over 40,000 unique rewards in the process.”

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Salad Technologies secured a $3.5m investment round in December 2020 which it has put towards building a decentralised computing infrastructure that it claims, in time, would enable users to collectively offer businesses access to a more affordable alternative to the traditional public cloud giants, including Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“The consumer hardware market is massive,” said Salad CEO Bob Miles. “When we started Salad, there were around 400 million gaming rigs in the world, and most of them gathered dust for 22 hours a day.

“If you want to activate that kind of supply, you’ve got to show everyone how to make the most of their PC. This past year has really shown us what our Chefs [users] can do, and we’re stoked to see them get a crack at these diversified workloads and even bigger earnings down the road.”

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