Sunday, September 2nd 2007

Calvin College Team Creates Ultra-Portable Supercomputer for $2470USD

These days, it seems as though computers come in two flavors: small and quiet, or big and powerful. However, a team from Calvin College recently broke all stereotypes by building a $2500 supercomputer inside what looks like a normal PC case. Containing four motherboards (and four dual core processors) connected by an eight-port switch, the supercomputer "Microwulf" can process an impressive 26.25 gigaflops every second. Microwulf is small enough to carry on board an airplane as carry-on luggage.

Source: EnGadget
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25 Comments on Calvin College Team Creates Ultra-Portable Supercomputer for $2470USD

#1
Ben Clarke
I must buy one. That's ~£1250 here... I'm just under half way there :)
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#2
Darknova
WOW, I love the exchange rate ^_^
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#3
FR@NK
by: zekrahminator
Microwulf is small enough to carry on board an airplane as carry-on luggage.
lol If thats it in the picture...then I really dont see airport security letting that thing anywhere near an airplane :P
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#4
Fox34
yea have fun convincing security to let that thing on a plane
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#5
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
OMG!!!!! That is just crazy.
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#7

by: kakazza
Isn't this more a cluster than a supercomputer? It's 4 PCs connected over Ethernet in one case running cluster software after all.

Here's a list of the hardware btw. using AMD CPUs :)
http://www.calvin.edu/~adams/research/microwulf/budget/
What do you think a supercomputer is?


(As it is, a set of four q6600 can offer 160+ GFlops at double precision - this price is out of date - $20 per GFlop is now possible).
#8
DrunkenMafia
why is it that computer nerds ALWAYS look like computer nerds... lol
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#9
niko084
by: DrunkenMafia
why is it that computer nerds ALWAYS look like computer nerds... lol
Heh.... I don't..... When I tell people to move because I'll fix their computer problem I get the most interesting looks.... Like uhh you know computers?!?! Umm ya buddy been building them for 10 years...
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#10

by: niko084
Heh.... I don't..... When I tell people to move because I'll fix their computer problem I get the most interesting looks.... Like uhh you know computers?!?! Umm ya buddy been building them for 10 years...
I don't look like one either...
#11
jocksteeluk
by: DrunkenMafia
why is it that computer nerds ALWAYS look like computer nerds... lol
because everyone looks the same over the internet.
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#12
Ser-J
by: niko084
Heh.... I don't..... When I tell people to move because I'll fix their computer problem I get the most interesting looks.... Like uhh you know computers?!?! Umm ya buddy been building them for 10 years...
Same here man!
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#13
XooM
how is that better than 1 dual-socket clovertown system...? I've seen those in normal-sized cases before...
Thats really just a lousy way to get octal cores.
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#14
yogurt_21
how much does dual 4core clovertowns cost? the whole point was cheapness with effectiveness, this is a college, not a university so i bet funding was pretty tight.
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#15
kwchang007
by: v-zero
What do you think a supercomputer is?


(As it is, a set of four q6600 can offer 160+ GFlops at double precision - this price is out of date - $20 per GFlop is now possible).
Man then build a q6600 system and it'll come out to be $2000. (one socket) Not to mention that'd be alot better in real time performance (aka gaming) and that'd have a great gfx card. If you don't need gfx....ditch the good card get a dual socket server and pop two quad cores in.
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#16
niko084
by: kwchang007
Man then build a q6600 system and it'll come out to be $2000. (one socket) Not to mention that'd be alot better in real time performance (aka gaming) and that'd have a great gfx card. If you don't need gfx....ditch the good card get a dual socket server and pop two quad cores in.
You want to pay for 2 quad core Xeon 5k chips?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117112

That a real base line model 1.6ghz....
Then the dual 771 socket board expect $450 for a decent one.

Not to mention the required ECC/Registered ram which cost a few hundred bucks per gig.
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#17
kwchang007
by: niko084
You want to pay for 2 quad core Xeon 5k chips?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117112

That a real base line model 1.6ghz....
Then the dual 771 socket board expect $450 for a decent one.

Not to mention the required ECC/Registered ram which cost a few hundred bucks per gig.
Well honestly, you could get better performance out of a single 775 socket q6600 if v-zero's right.
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#18
niko084
by: kwchang007
Well honestly, you could get better performance out of a single 775 socket q6600 if v-zero's right.
Well its semi correct..... A super computer is generally a rack system which holds multiple levels of boards with processors on them...

Most chips do not allow multiple chips to be used in conjunction with each other...

Xeon 5k and up series do allow this. Motorola is a huge company for super computer processors.

****
In reality no a single e6600 will not keep up with that machine in certain applications...

Although for gaming of course something like that would be perfectly useless.
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#19

by: kwchang007
Man then build a q6600 system and it'll come out to be $2000. (one socket) Not to mention that'd be alot better in real time performance (aka gaming) and that'd have a great gfx card. If you don't need gfx....ditch the good card get a dual socket server and pop two quad cores in.
No, you can do four q6600 systems (un-overclocked) for about $2000. Serious performance.


I mean, check out the Cray supercomputers. Their base series are all built on Opteron clusters, and they are fantastic machines - supercomputing is no longer the sole preserve of the super-rich.

Though imho, the coolest thing to do with a 4 PC cluster is to run synergy on them all, use one KB and Mouse and do some serious multitasking :). I'm in the middle of building my 4 PC setup.
#20
WhiteLotus
that thing look hideous - wonder what kind of case you could build for that. with suitable cooling...

m/
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#21
tater
i wonder what its super pi score is :D
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#22
kwchang007
by: v-zero
No, you can do four q6600 systems (un-overclocked) for about $2000. Serious performance.


I mean, check out the Cray supercomputers. Their base series are all built on Opteron clusters, and they are fantastic machines - supercomputing is no longer the sole preserve of the super-rich.

Though imho, the coolest thing to do with a 4 PC cluster is to run synergy on them all, use one KB and Mouse and do some serious multitasking :). I'm in the middle of building my 4 PC setup.
YEAHHH do some folding for TPU :D
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#24
niko084
This is nothing really special...
Sure cool he built his little super computer....

Too bad 20 minutes on newegg and I have a parts list for a faster one thats cheaper with better parts.....

The system although cool has no use, and you can't compare it to a 500,000$$ Sun Solaris system..... Big difference between a cheap sata drive and $20 psu's and something that comes in a sun.... Let alone those AMD x2's..... System holds no use, therefore I think its kinda a joke, not reliable in enterprise use therefore useless.
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#25
Darkrealms
by: niko084
This is nothing really special...
Sure cool he built his little super computer....

Too bad 20 minutes on newegg and I have a parts list for a faster one thats cheaper with better parts.....

The system although cool has no use, and you can't compare it to a 500,000$$ Sun Solaris system..... Big difference between a cheap sata drive and $20 psu's and something that comes in a sun.... Let alone those AMD x2's..... System holds no use, therefore I think its kinda a joke, not reliable in enterprise use therefore useless.
For the sake of saying they could do it. When they bought everything to make it that probably was the price. 3 years down the road they may actually be making something.
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