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The £100 Super Computer

Alex Christie

20 May 2009

From the moment I assembled my first computer I have been fascinated by the idea of building my own computational cluster, however the sheer cost involved has always stopped me, until now.

In its simplest form a computer cluster is a group of computers that are linked together to work as one exceptionally fast machine.  They are often used by scientists to solve complex mathametical solutions.

Whilst upgrading some hardware in the office recently I hopped on to EBay to work out how much the old equipment was worth.  What surprised me was that two year old  servers from the likes of IBM and Dell could be had for as little as £30 each!.

d44c_1After a quick EBay shopping trip I had purchased two IBM servers for £30 each and a brand new KVM switch (that allows you to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, mouse and monitor) for only £3.99.

These items coupled with an old network switch, keyboard and mouse that I already had, gave me all the parts needed to build my very own (albeit small) cluster.

Next on the todo list is a case to hold the computers (estimated cost £30).  Whilst there are only two machines at the moment I plan on building the case to hold eight servers so I can add additional machines as they become available.

With two servers the project has cost me a little under £100.  At £30 a server the completed project (with eight servers) should set me back approximately £280, which is cheaper than most desktop computers.

I will post more pictures of my project as they become available.  Any suggestions for potential applications to run on the cluster when it is finished will be gladly accepted!



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