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This is a question that's been plaguing me since I saw the following YouTube video:

This man installed 20 video cards across 5 different rigs, all running on the same task (mining bitcoins). My question is how he got five separate computers to all work on the same task. Is this something trivial that I've just never learned, or did it require some custom software or hardware?

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It isn't really five computers working on the same task. It is 5 computers working on lots of smaller sub-tasks that are broken into small tasks by specialized software. – Zoredache Apr 29 '13 at 19:35
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Custom software, the technique is called Distributed Computing.

Some of the first notable distributed computing projects you may have even herd of already like Seti@Home and Folding@Home.

The bitcoin software is doing the same thing, except instead of searching for extra terrestrial life, or finding a cure for cancer, it is generating bitcoins.

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Another type of example would be glusterfs (, a distributed file system across multiple computers. – MaQleod Apr 29 '13 at 18:36

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