Think of all the BitCoins they could create with a setup like that (I get an average of 50 coins every 26 minutes with http://www.alloscomp.com/bitcoin/calculator.php).
At a current market value of about USD$0.22 per coin, this equates to about USD$25/hour.
Of course, BitCoin uses SHA256, but how much different from MD5 can that be?
(MD5: 128 bit | SHA256: 256 bit) ::
(2^256/2^128 = 2^128) => 3.40282367*10^38 of a larger keyspace.
I know nothing about the specifical implementation details of either hashing method (and I eagerly await tptacek to offer a far more comprehensive response) but I'm sure the difference in keyspace alone is enough to make this practically impossible.
a) One does not pay for resources consumed.
b) Speculates about future value of BTC.
Regardless, very impressive. I would love to hear more!
Maybe this is the final incentive for me to look into EC2...
(This is the machine I built to develop whitepixel).
If someone finds a way to generate,say, 5x more bitcoins that what the average expected amount is - they have a temporary advantage, but once those coins hit the market, the market is diluted and will quickly catch up.
Bitcoins has replaced mining gold with generating bitcoins - so it will be harnessing server infrastructure and good code / math -vs- digging big holes in the ground.