[Disclosure: we do have a business relationship with Basement Supercomputing]
(this is a longer version of the beowulf item I posted)
Years ago, I came to the conclusion that there was no personal supercomputing market after we tried with a deskside system … what I called a “muscular desktop” with a great deal of IO, processing, ram, and graphics. We just could not find the right niche for this, and we were being badly undercut in price by the Dell-like companies of the world, selling low end boxes that were … good enough … for a small set of tasks.
We had resold the Cray CX1. It was a cluster-in-a-box. Basically a small deskside cluster, and it was a very logical thing I had thought. We sold a grand total of 1. This was about the time that clouds started taking off for some HPC work.
So after looking at the numbers, we realized we couldn’t make a successful go at this market and, unhappily, left it.
This said, I really like the concept of a personal supercomputer, one where, as Doug Eadline puts it, you own the reset switch. We tried, and did not succeed, in building interest in “muscular desktops” with huge amounts of processors, IO, and graphics. It cost way to much to build these.
Doug comes along and in very beowulf-ish fashion, says “hey, lets build a very low electrical power many core distributed system from lower cost parts”. It took a few years from project inception, but the concept is sound. Far more sound than the “muscular desktop” strategy.
He ran hadoop on it, and was showing off running the overall system. I think the configs for hadoop might be slightly different than whats on the product page: http://www.basement-supercomputing.com/index.php/products/hikashop-menu-for-products-listing , but its similar enough that you can get the concept.
I was simply blown away by this. The response came anywhere from “thats exactly what we need” to “this is very cool” with everything in between. They are awesome boxes, and it looks like it could fill a very nice niche for a number of folks.
If you’ve not checked out the Limulus project in the past (http://limulus.basement-supercomputing.com/ and twtr @LimulusProject) , definitely have a look at it. Returning to our core value proposition, of power at lower cost, with creative designs, is deeply gratifying to me. Have a gander at the benchmark page: http://limulus.basement-supercomputing.com/wiki/LimulusBenchmarks
It needs to be emphasized that this is not a toy system. You can do real work on it, and its trivial to setup and get going.
Bravo to Doug!