Buy a Piece of Big Mac

By on February 12, 2004

You can now buy a piece of the history-making Virginia Tech Supercomputer. MacMall is selling refurbished Apple G5 computers that came from Virginia Tech. In my opinion the Apple-refurbished systems are priced a bit high at $2799, which is only $200 less than a new G5, but they do come with 1GB of memory (instead of the standard 512MB), plus a little history.

You’ll recall that in June of 2003, VT made history by linking 1100 2MHz Dual Processor G5’s together to create a low-cost supercomputer, known as System X (but nicknamed Big Mac.) System X made a big splash in the technical world by coming in third in the list of the Top 500 Supercomputers, and making it there at a fraction of the cost of many of the other entries on that list… System X cost a mere $7 million, compared to $250 million for the Japanese Earth Simulator Center’s NEC-built 5120-CPU rig and $215 million for the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 8192-chip AlphaServer-based ASCI-Q machine.

Last month Virginia Tech took delivery of 1100 new xServe G5’s to replace the original G5 towers. The xServes will benefit the project by yielding the same horsepower but only taking up 1 unit of rack space, requiring only 1000 square feet of space compared to the 3000 used by the original System X. The xServes also run cooler and have a lower power usage, which should save VT a bundle on electricity and cooling.