I love supercomputers. The Virginia Tech Supercomputer that made it into the top 10 with 500 mac G5's planted a seed when I read about it. I decided to try an experiment along the lines of "is it still possible for anyone in America to grow up to be the president"
Is it possible for a person of average computer skills to build a supercomputer in their "backyard" that ranks in the top 100? (top 500?)
Before you scoff and dismiss, remember, anyone can say a thing can't be done. Its easy to throw numbers around and reject the notion, but that's bean counter logic and bean counter logic is not one of the qualities that made this country great!
One of my other inspirations for this project was that movie about the guy who made it into the NFL (title escapes me...) I think Mark Wahlberg played the lead. The point being that you actually have to try before you can actually say for sure.
I set some parameters to make this a valid experiment. I knew had to try and put myself in the position of an average user. Otherwise, the experiment had no validity. Its like the question about atom bomb plans on the internet. If you are a physics professor who happens to have access to weapons grade radio-active material, then you aren't really relevant to the question.
The second element is cost. Just as in the president question, wealth and privilege have an artificial headstart and no relevance in our land of opportunity model. So I've limited out of pocket purchases to +/- $100 a week. I think that's about what the average person could afford to spend on a "hobby project" I know a few car nuts and motorcycle guys with average jobs and that seems to be about what their budget can absorb without flirting with divorce court.
So we'll be looking to think outside the box from the get go.
I'm going to try to keep this updated bi-weekly. Sometimes I might go daily, other times a week might pass, but that's the target. Feel free to weigh in with opinions, etc especially if you think I've done something that negates the core principal- Is it possible for an average person in America to build a top 100 supercomputer in their backyard.
In my next post, I'll bring the project's progress up to date and cover what I've done and spent between November of 07 and now. Yes, we're well on our way.