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I've somehow got it into my head that it's possible to share CPU cycles, though I've no idea where from.
So basically that's what I'm asking - is it actually possible to tell one system to 'donate' it's unused CPU time, cycles, whatever they are, for another's use?
Strictly speaking no.
Very specific workloads are amenable to grid or cloud - and they require a "distributor" to apportion the work and accept the results. I have thought about a local/private cloud at home, but the hassle is not worth it. Maybe have a look at xcat - note the increment is usually a box, not a few spare cycles.