How to build your own supercomputer: Take a few off-the-shelf, stripped-down PCs, add some network switches, a maze of Ethernet cabling and some homegrown Linux software, and you'll be well on your way.
Hewlett-Packard, together with a national laboratory in France, tried this recipe out. To the great surprise of many scientists, it worked. What they ended up with is the "I-Cluster," a Mandrake Linux-powered cluster of 225 simplified PCs from HP that has benchmarked its way into the list of the top 500 most powerful computers in the world.
At a technical session last summer, scientists from HP's own labs in Grenoble, France started talking to experts at the local INRIA Rhone-Alps (part of France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science) about the possibility of doing "something a little unusual": building a supercomputer out of standard hardware components such as might be found in a typical enterprise. They started with 100 of HP's e-PCs--simplified PCs with reduced expandability--and finally worked up to the present configuration of 225 nodes, which is near the cluster's physical limit.
News source: ZDnet UK