Gateway makes store PCs work overtime

Rather than continue to let the thousands of PCs in its stores sit largely unused, Gateway plans to announce Tuesday a project that will let companies tap into those PCs for large computing projects. The PC maker is teaming with distributed-computing start-up United Devices to sell the combined computing power of its PCs to companies on a per-hour basis. Gateway plans to charge 15 cents per PC per hour to companies that want to marshal the computational resources of the latest Gateway desktops.

The move is designed, in part, to address critics who have charged that the company is not getting enough return on the high cost of running more than 270 stores nationwide. Gateway is not forecasting how much revenue it might see from the new project.

"It's anybody's guess," said Premal Kazi, a senior product manager at Gateway. "We will have an education phase because it is a new market."

Such distributed-computing efforts, by their nature, are limited to projects that have many tasks that can be performed in parallel without depending on the results of other calculations. However, Gateway said there are a number of projects in the life sciences, financial services and other industries that can tap such PC clusters for their computing needs. Although rivals have announced larger-scale projects that aim to popularize a computer-as-utility business model, analysts say Gateway's is one of the first to actually be available, said Ahmar Abbas, managing director at Grid Technology Partners, a San Jose, Calif.-based consulting and market research firm.

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News source: c|net

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