I'm more of an investor/miner than a computer scientist, so I'm asking the enlightened on here.....Would it be possible to rent out rigs that are pulling say 10+ghash of power to businesses, science research, poor governments or possibly any other service that would require large amounts of computing power? There might be a business model in this if we had pool websites setup to do mass services for 3rd party businesses. I've heard that typically GPU's are bad at scientific research because of small cache size. Is there a way around this if developed from ground up?
Is there a reason why we can't rent our large bitcoin rigs' power to something other then bitcoin?
Wherever you heard "GPUs are bad at scientific research" is wholly incorrect. They're absolutely fantastic
for tons of different kinds of scientific and computational activities, but there's a lot of applications where it doesn't fit. I should know, because I work as a physicist, and we have dozens of projects within the organization that are adopting GP-GPU (general-purpose GPU) programming, and outfitting all of their systems with GPUs. Myself, I do a bit of GPGPU development for "scientific research."
On the other hand, I will say from personal experience that CUDA -- an NVIDIA-specific GPGPU language -- is much more pleasant to develop with than OpenCL, even though CUDA won't work on ATI cards. That's why all the computers in all the computer labs where I work have GTX 480/580/680s. ATI cards will generally perform better with equivalently-optimized algorithms for the target architecture, but the development ease
is the issue, not the speed. If code currently takes 10 minutes to run on CPU, then perhaps we can get it down to 15 seconds on NVIDIA cards or 9 seconds using openCL. In that case, we're picking whichever arch is the easiest to develop for because the difference between 15s and 9s is like comparing paying $0.15 for a sandwich instead of $0.09... we'll pay the extra $0.06 for the more pleasant experience.
(P.S. -- Do not compare raw power of the ATI vs NVIDIA based on mining speeds: ATI has some big advantages over NVIDIA that are very specific only to Bitcoin mining; the gap is not nearly as huge for most types of computations, especially double-precision operations which are common to scientific programming and NVIDIA has spent a lot of time optimizing them).
That's not to say that OpenCL isn't used. Because of the speed of ATI cards, there are a lot of organizations that develop in OpenCL, and prefer ATI cards because they tend to perform better overall. I think there is plenty of market for GPU-cluster resources, the big question is how are you going to arrange/setup for remote users to access the cluster and charge them for their use of it?.