Educators Build A Cluster On The Cheap
"Clusters have enjoyed a dramatic dip in prices over the past few years, although they remain out of many schools’ reach. A decent eight server cluster can easily stretch past $35,000 or so. Four US college professors with a geeky bent have worked to whittle the cost of a basic cluster down to $3,000 in the hopes of putting the systems in more students’ hands.
Published: 20th November 2006 | Source: The Register |20/11/2006
Source: The Register
Four Professors – or more specifically their slave students – have spent 18 months trying to get the LittleFe design just right. The system has to remain cheap, portable and easy enough to make if it's going to reach high schools and colleges throughout the country.
Despite being low-powered, the LittleFe cluster (6 server cluster based on VIA chips) gives students a chance to tackle some of the higher-end computing techniques currently driving the industry. The students can learn to carve up machines, see how software runs across multiple systems, and grapple with more advanced management techniques than those they would encounter when working with a laptop, workstation or single server.
"Little-Fe weighs less than 50 pounds, easily and safely travels via checked baggage on the airlines, and sets up in 10 minutes wherever there is a 110V outlet and a wall to project an image on," the group ads on its website. "By leveraging the Bootable Cluster CD project, and its associated curriculum modules, Little-Fe makes it possible to have a powerful ready-to-run computational science and HPC educational platform for under US$2,500."
Intel has stepped in with some help by firing off a fresh supply of motherboards to crank up a more powerful generation of LittleFe boxes. Still, those behind the project are looking for even more help with both the equipment and construction of systems.
LittleFe's specs can be found here
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