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1 Teraflop: £4000


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Someone was asking on Slashdot about cheap clustering and I wondered how much 1 Teraflop would cost in consumer hardware; the answer: just £4000 (yes I know I could have done it with just a couple of GPUs but most software still only runs on CPU).

Here is what I came up with:

Each node has an intel i7 2600k (approximately 100 gflops) + 8GB RAM and can be built for £380 (quick amazon search)

If you have 10 Nodes you have 1 Teraflop costing £3800 leaving £200 for network hardware and hard drives for the master node (nodes are network booted)

I might do this one day or maybe just a 5 node cluster.

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From an efficiency point of view, GPUs would be the way to go. It all depends on what type of software you want to use them for. You would be saving a lot on electricity bills and room space, plus you would also need a well air-conditioned room, to compensate for the heat generated from the graphics card.

On my rig, I'm currently running a high end Nvidia graphics card and man, if I run it flat out for a few hours my room instantly becomes an oven. I am thinking on upgrading it to one of those hydro graphic cards, that has support for water cooling.

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I currently have sitting at home the hardware to produce a 4 node cluster ;)

I went for the i5 2500k as the performance/price is much higher than i7 2600k.

(Both provide around 80 gigaflops, as actually tested using LinPack on ubuntu)

I have 4 Mini-ITX boards sporting 8Gbs RAM and i5 2500k

3 are powered by PicoPSU (120W)

and 1 directly connected to a 650W PSU (the pico-psu's are supplied by the 650 too)

5 port Gigabit Switch and cables.

Total cost runs to about £1300 and provides around 320 gigaflops (so just shy of 1 Teraflop at £3900)

all this lot requires is something to netboot them and its good to go.

If anyone is interested I can list the whole hardware list and a photo of the setup ;)

The idea is to encase the entire lot in a 7" x 7" x 12" Aluminum Case with only a RJ45 and kettle plug for connectors ;) (ok ok maybe some power switches unless Wake On Lan works flawlessly)

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