Build Your Own Linux Ubuntu Supercomputer For Under $350

While buying some new hardware — Intel X25-M SSD 80Gb SATA internal drive, Samsung external DVD and some DVD’s — I came across the following special offer from my favourite hardware vendor Newergg: Combo Deal 05/28/2009:

  • ECS BLACK SERIES GF8200A (V1.0) AM2+/AM3 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard – Retail

    CPU Type Phenom II / Phenom / Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 / Sempron
    (Note: This board supports CPU up to 95W TDP only)
    FSB 2600MHz Hyper Transport (5200 MT/s)
    Chipsets North Bridge NVIDIA GeForce 8200
    Number of Memory Slots 4×240pin Memory Standard; DDR2 1066; Maximum Memory Supported, 8GB ;
    Channel Supported Dual Channel
    Expansion Slots PCI Express 2.0 x16; 1 PCI Express x1; 2 PCI Slots 3
    Storage Devices PATA 1 x ATA100 2 Dev. Max; SATA 3Gb/s 5; SATA RAID 0/1/0+1/5
    Onboard Video Chipset NVIDIA GeForce 8200; Audio Chipset IDT 92HD206; Audio Channels 8; Onboard LAN; LAN Chipset, Realtek RTL8111; Max LAN Speed, 10/100/1000Mbps
    Rear Panel Ports, PS/2 2; Video Ports, D-SubHDMI 1 x HDMI; USB, 6 x USB 2.0; eSATA 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s; Audio Ports, 6; Onboard USB, 6 x USB 2.0
    Physical Spec Form Factor ATX; Dimensions, 12.0″ x 8.7″; Power Pin, 24;
    Package Contents GF8200A (V1.0; Driver Disk; User Manual; Rear I/O Panel Shield; IDE/PATA Cable;SATA Cable;

  • HITACHI 0A38016 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive – OEM

    Model Brand , HITACHI; Model, 0A38016; Performance Interface SATA 3.0Gb/sl Capacitym 1TBl RPMm 7200 RPM; Cache, 16MB; Form Factor, 3.5″

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core black edition Processor Model AD775ZWCGHBOX – Retail

    Name, Athlon 64 X2 7750; Operating Frequency, 2.7GHz; Hyper Transports, 3600MHz; L1 Cache, 128KB+128KB; L2 Cache , 2 x 512KB; L3 Cache, 2MB;
    Manufacturing Tech, 65 nm; 64 bit Support, Yes; Voltage, 1.05-1.325V; Thermal Power, 95W

  • EVGA 01G-P3-N959-TR GeForce 9500 GT 1GB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card – Retail

    Chipset Manufacturer, NVIDIA; GPU, GeForce 9500 GT; Core Clock, 550MHz; Stream Processors, 32;
    Memory Clock, 400Mhz (800Mhz Effective); Memory Size, 1GB; Memory Interface, 128-bit; Memory Type, GDDR2; 3D API, DirectX 10, OpenGL 2.1
    Ports: DVI, 2; TV-Out, HDTV / S-Video Out;
    General: RAMDAC 400 MHz; Max Resolution, 2560 x 1600; SLI Supported; Cooler With Fan;
    System Requirements Minimum of a 350 Watt power supply; (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 18 Amp Amps.); Minimum 400 Watt for SLI mode system; (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 22 Amp Amps.); ual-Link DVI Supported; HDCP Ready;

  • OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2N800SR4GK – Retail

  • HEC 6C28BBX585 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 585W Power Supply – Retail
  • Pricing as follows:

    1. ECS GF8200A (V1.0): $79.99
    2. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies 0A38016: $79.99
    3. AMD AD775ZWCGHBOX: $59.99
    4. EVGA 01G-P3-N959-TR: $69.99
    5. OCZ Technology, Inc. OCZ2N800SR4GK: $45.99
    6. Compucase 6C28BBX585: $64.99
    7. Combo Discount: -$79.00
    8. Combo Price: $321.94
      $10.00 Mail-In Rebate
      $15.00 Mail-In Rebate
      $10.00 Mail-In Rebate

    Astounding!

    To understand why this old-time says that, see On Programming: Moore’s Law and Software and look at the features of machines of 10, 30, and 50 years ago. These are machines I once used.

    What’s more interesting is that, on average, I would guess that most of these machines will never be used to 1/100 of one percent of their capacity. What a waste of power. See On Programming: Ecocode.

    Note that a copy of Vista would cost $100, over a quarter the cost of the hardware. Thank goodness we have Linux Ubuntu available at no cost.

    Note especially the CDC 6600, the world’s largest supercomputer from 1966 to the early 1970’s. It cost almost $10 million in 1970 dollars. You can now get a machine that is several orders of magnitudes bigger in memory , , with one terabyte of disk space, AND faster, for less than 1/30000th the price of the 6600.

    Or put the other way, the CDC 6600 would cost at least three hundred billion dollars today!!

    Just Astounding!

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:26 | Permalink | Reply

    I love this recipe for a fast, cheap Linux box.

    As for being (continually) astounded, one of my favorite web pages is Hans Moravec’s list of computers, MIPs and cost:

    http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/users/hpm/book97/ch3/processor.list.txt

    Hans has kept the list more or less up to date (mostly more) since since 1997. It’s a fun exercise to plot your own mips/dollar and see just how exponential the resulting curve is.

    – rdp

  2. James Von über
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 18:26 | Permalink | Reply

    Cool!

    I want one now.

    If only I hadn’t spent so much on my camera…

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