Linux Supercomputers That You Can Build

Linux LogoAdapteva recently set up a Kickstarter project to fund development of its $99 supercomputer. Called Parallella, it’s designed to make an affordable, open and easy-to-use parallel processing platform available for developers and general purpose computing. It will have a dual-core ARM A9 CPU and an Epiphany Multicore Accelerator with either 16 or 64 cores.

The device will also be Open Source on both the software and hardware sides. The company says the whole thing will fit on a tiny 3.4 x 2.1 inch board and ship with Ubuntu Linux. Estimated delivery for the $99 version is May 2013.

Then there’s the recent story of the supercomputer built by the University of Southhampton from 64 Raspberry Pi boards and Lego bricks for about $4,000. It has 1 terabyte of storage and communicates between nodes over Ethernet. Want to make your own? A RaspberryPi supercomputer how-to is linked below.

A few of you might recall the old Transputer, first introduced in 1983 by British chipmaker Inmos. It had integrated memory and serial-based communication and was designed as a parallel-processing platform. One interesting feature was that the machines used a Unix-like distributed operating system called HeliOS. There were also ports of Minux and Idris. The thing screamed along at a then very respectable 20 MHz. It feels kind of strange to think back and remember that Linux didn’t even appear on the scene until almost 10 years later.

We’ve come a long way.

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