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Q: supercomputers made from pc's ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: supercomputers made from pc's
Category: Computers
Asked by: mishic-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 06 Jan 2006 18:24 PST
Expires: 05 Feb 2006 18:24 PST
Question ID: 430191
how can I build a supercomputer from cheap pc's. I can afford about $400.
Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
Answered By: siliconsamurai-ga on 07 Jan 2006 06:45 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi, thank you for bringing your question to Google Answers.

You can?t physically build any sort of supercomputer for less than
about $25,000 in components, but that doesn?t mean you can?t have one.

Although at first this seems like a silly question, there is, in fact,
a way to do it - you use one inexpensive PC and connect to the
Internet where you network with other computers using idle computing

Hackers do this all the time to crack cryptographic problems, and even
spammers are essentially building supercomputer networks by taking
over unprotected home systems.

A more formal system, CETI at Home (now BOINC) does the same thing.

What these all have in common is the linking of a large number of PCs
over the Internet, each of which takes part of the problem and works
on it ? that is what supercomputers do also.

To do the same thing you need to find a group of users who share your
interest, then use grid computing software to link them together.


Google Search Term:
How does seti at home work

Google Search Term:
Grid computing software

I think that is a good answer for the price. There is absolutely no
physical way of building such a computer on your own for your budget
but this solution gives you the same results and, if you think about
it, you actually are building a supercomputer for $400, it is just a
distributed computer.

If you wish to know more about obtaining or making your own grid or
distributed computing software you should ask another question. There
are also organizations online devoted to sharing computing resources.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 07 Jan 2006 06:46 PST
I would just point out that you didn't say anything about "owning" all
those cheap PCs.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Jan 2006 12:13 PST
Hi, thank you the tip. Although my suggestion may seem a bit wild, it
really can be done.
mishic-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00

Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
From: sublime1-ga on 06 Jan 2006 19:35 PST
Given your budget, this would be like trying to make
a bungee jumping cord from 4 bags of rubber bands.
Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
From: cajoel-ga on 06 Jan 2006 19:49 PST
What OS and hardware choices you make depend on what you want to do
with your "supercomputer". What sort of applications do you want to

Assuming you mean clustered distributed memory computer, try looking
in to OS Linux OS distributions like Rocks Cluster Distribution.

There was once a magazine called "Clusterworld" which became part of
"Linux Magazine".   They have lots of articles to help get you

I especially suggest reading the article on the "Rocks Cluster
Distribution" and the article on "Building a (Very) Low Cost Cluster"
which very much meets the spirit of your question.

Oreilly also has a fine book titled: 
High Performance Linux Clusters with OSCAR, Rocks, OpenMosix, and MPI
I find it to be an excellent reference on everything from hardware to
application design.

Another good resource is Cluster Monkey which many of the writers from
the Clusterworld Magazine now write for.
Their "Building your first cluster" article is nice.

You can build a cluster out of 2 year old PCs that could likely
outperform a Cray from 10 years ago.

Good luck.
Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
From: mikomoro-ga on 07 Jan 2006 01:25 PST
I remember seeing a Cray about 20 years ago. It was water-cooled and
the water cascaded down the outside of the machine. I guess that you
could easily emulate this by building a garden rockery thing around
both your PC and a water pump. Go for it!

Good luck!
Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
From: sushilkr-ga on 10 Jan 2006 09:45 PST
I remember we built a beowulf cluster in our college days:)

you still need to have multiple nodes, and a mechanism to connect them
together. I guess you cost would be something (N*cost of cheap
computer+C)) N=no of nodes, C is networking cost etc) and typically
you would add 8-16 machines in your supercomputer cluster.
Subject: Re: supercomputers made from pc's
From: james_s-ga on 11 Jan 2006 11:37 PST
Why build one? Let some one else do the work for you. 400$ buys you
400 hours on sun's Grid (probably a little less after fee's and
taxes). You could building any thing that scale, but you can rent it
for a dollar an hour. =)

If you want to "own" a piece of the pie,  stop by 

and see what their policy is on joining, and submitting problems to be solved.

Eventually some one will strike upon the idea of an opt-in distributed
system for general use. Probably the biggest application will be
redundant storage. With things like Kazaa, Napsters and Bitorrent
paving the way to a "world sized disk".

It would be nice (*** wink wink, aplication idea ***) to have some
distributed client that stores my pictures of my vacation on some
number of other benevolent souls' hard disk (of course at the cost of
some of mine, to opt-in). In case I toast mine, recovering my data
will not be too hard. With the approiate usage to file slicing (like
what the torrents do, but sgined by me), encryption, check sums, and
signatures, it could even be realtively secure. Obviously you'd put
sensitive material in places only you control. But if some one else
wants to hack ther client and look at my vacation slides, and are
willing to waste hours of time breaking my encryption key just to see
me in palm tree shorts, more power to them. It's a neet application to
postulate at least.

So a $400 super computer that you actaully "own" might not be so
ridiculous after all. Considering the pice of the average low end
desktop has dropped to 250$ (


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