A supercomputer for the home PC? It will happen, says GridIron Software, an Ottawa-based developer of grid computing software.

GridIron has entered into an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to develop a grid computing product called X-Factor that would run on the Windows XP operating system.

GridIron provides a commercial product for distributed grid computing that is embedded directly into software applications. The company says its product can raise the efficiency of computing resources in an enterprise network by as much as 80 or 90 per cent.

In an average corporate system, GridIron says, the typical desktop runs at 10 per cent of its capacity and a server at 30 per cent of capacity.

Connecting several small computers into a grid, sometimes called a distributed computer system, breaks up a job into discrete tasks and distributes each task to different machines on the grid. All the machines, working in concert, can collectively match or exceed the capability of a large, powerful and highly expensive supercomputer.

It’s not new technology (It’s been used extensively with industrial-strength computers, Linux systems and there’s a version for Apple), but it will be new to Windows home users.

Grid computing results in significant productivity and cost benefits when used for applications requiring substantial computing requirements, such as digital content creation.

Typically, however, the resources and expertise required to deploy commercial grid software has limited its use to high-performance computing and large enterprise markets.

GridIron, however, is an application-embedded approach that the company says requires no special skills for end users to deploy and yields benefits with as few as two computers, allowing the benefits of grid computing to be realized for the first time in non-traditional markets, such as digital content creation.

More here.