Starting on January 12, there will also be an effort to find DES keys.
The key will need to be found in no more than 67.5 days in order to
win prize money. Faster finding means more money.
Personally, I think that's not a good measurement in this case. It
would make good sense with a larger sample size, like in a race to
find 20 keys, but the time needed to discover a single key is largely
dependent on chance (whether the key happened to be one of the ones
tested early or late). One lucky team could raise the bar
unreasonably high for the next round using unreproducible results.
Of course, RSA's goal is to illustrate how fast a key can be found
under extreme conditions, and depend on ignorant journalists,
lobbyists, and legislators to misunderstand it to reflect how fast a
key could normally be found.