Slideshow

How to build your own supercomputer

Supercomputer do-it-yourselfer Bruce Allen says anyone can build one with some simple equipment

  • Network topology for the cluster was simple: two 24-port switches connected to 48 nodes.

  • Trays each containing 50 single inline memory modules to boost the system RAM to 7G Byte.

  • The back of a rack. That's rain gutter holding the red Cat 5 cabling.

  • The DEC machines deployed on shelving bought at Home Depot and set up in a machine room. The cage at the rear houses the wiring closet for the physics department.

  • Supercomputer do-it-yourselfer Bruce Allen says anyone familiar with networking can build a supercomputing cluster today with modest funding and instructions pulled off the Internet. He built a 32.8T flop cluster most recently in Germany. This is a brief look at the unglamorous hardware that went into his first effort -- a 28.8G flop cluster built in 1998 at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. br> Photo credit: Albert Einstein Institute (AEI)/Norbert Michalke

  • Nodes shown from the front. Note all the keyboards on the top shelf. Each node required its own keyboard to boot.

  • 3Com Superstack II Fast Ethernet switches used to tie the nodes together. The temperature monitoring device on top is a Radio Shack indoor-outdoor thermometer.

  • The guts of the cluster: a DEC 300XL workstation with 2M Byte cache CPU bought at a close-out sale for US$825 each.

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