$99 Supercomputer, Goes to KickstarterYou might think that supercomputers, powerful machines with lots and lots of processors, are out of the average person's reach. But if a new project succeeds, that might not be the case.
Using low-power, cheap and simple processors, much like the Raspberry Pi does, one team is hoping to release a small supercomputer for $99. While it won't be able to compete with a university-run machine, the mini-behemoth does operate at 13 Gigahertz and 26 gigaflops across 16 cores. For comparison, an Intel Core I7 is capable of 96 gigaflops if you opt for the top of the line, but costs significantly more and drains a lot more power.
The project's initial Kickstarter goal will be $750,000. If that goal is reached, the next one will be $3 million, and will be to make a better 45 GHz and 90 gigaflops. That will cost $199 instead of $99, however.
While the boards are being shipped as complete computers, with a gig of ram and a n operating system, their true power lies in clustering. The company notes that a cluster of 10 of these machines would have been considered a supercomputer as little at 10 years ago, so imagine going even further with these.
Okay, so this board isn't going to match the raw power of a quad-core processor. The thing is, there are many tasks better suited for multiple cores than for fewer. In addition, the hardware design of these will be completely open, so anyone can redesign them to their needs.
While niche, this could prove to be a major advance for the independent hobbyist. Powerful multi-core clusters have historically been out of the reach of the reach of enthusiasts, and this should change that. Just imagine what a few independents supercomputing clusters networked together over the internet could do.