There’s a slight irony that Dell (they of the exploding, burning laptop batteries) sponsored the computer recycling binge over the weekend. Great, I guess, that recycling happens at all, but slightly wasteful nevertheless. I have
three five (maybe six) pcs hiding in the basement, with a vision of getting some space and time to build a beowulf.
Yahoodawhatta? A beowulf. As they say in Wired 8:12 December 2000:
Have you always fancied yourself an übergeeky processing-speed freak with a supercomputer in the den? For as little as $3,000 – even less if you have some old PCs lying around – you can live your dream and build a Beowulf cluster of PCs running the Linux OS, with speed rivaling the $20 million Crays of yore.
If you’re even slightly familiar with PC hardware and Linux, you’ll be able to render advanced animations, crack high-grade encryption codes, or help find E.T. by speed-crunching SETI project data.
So, instead of merely recycling them, Dell might’ve done something really dynamic with the pcs. For example, from iTWire, 27 August 2006,
US scientists intend to build a supercomputing network from idle PlayStation 3 boxes sitting in gamers’ homes in a project aimed at understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
The scientists at FAH want to enlist the PS3 consoles in gamers’ homes into the network when they’re not being used. Volunteers with PS3 boxes would download a piece of software that would enable FAH to use their processors when they’re idle.
According to FAH, a network of 10,000 PS3 boxes would enable processing performance four times as fast as the most powerful supercomputer in the world, the IBM BlueGene/L computer in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the University of California.
As xmas approaches, I can see a new marketing campaign where the kids nudge mum and dad for a PS3, ‘not for playing games on, but to save Gramps’. And everyone wants to save Gramps, right? Sure. Who cares about the boring games…