24 core Ikea cluster


[Janne] does freelance animation and wanted something with a bit more CPU to get his rendering jobs done. He picked up an Ikea ‘Helmer’ cabinet and refitted it to hold six Intel quad cores, six Gigabyte motherboards with 8GB of ram each and six 400 watt power supplies. He seems happy with it – I think it just needs some custom power wiring and an integrated Gig-E switch to achieve perfection. What? I’m not jealous at all.

43 thoughts on “24 core Ikea cluster

  1. He mounted all 6 psu’s so I’m assuming he used them all.

    The quoted 400W power draw is most likely all 6 comps combined, at idle of course.

  2. Janne, did you consider PXE booting the cluster? It would have reduced money, power and noise and increased the neat factor. Does your rendering app need local scratch?

  3. I second the recommendation for PXE boot. I recently set up a cluster and used PXE boot. It turned out to be much easier then I expected. Google for “linux pxe boot”. It was a simple matter of adding a few lines to the dhcpd config file, start a tftpd server, and putting the pxelinux (from syslinux) files in the right place.

  4. You know, I wonder how this would compare to the one mini supercomputer that was shown on here before…

    This is the exact one, but it’s close enough – Microwulf

  5. “The most amazing is that this machine just costed as a better standard PC”

    I think hes trying to say it cost as much as a top of the line rig. And if thats the case I find that hard to believe. just looking at RAM+CPU+Mobos from newegg i have a total of $2,478. I dont know if he got some better deals from the place he got his stuff from but 2.4K is a LOT of money, even for a top of the line rig.

    570(mobo)+444(ram)+1464(cpu)

  6. That is really cool. Everybody that does clusters like this make it look easy. As soon as I can get my hands on a few spare computers I suppose I will make a project out of it.

  7. @chupa

    to be fair, a ‘top of the line’ PC might have a CPU that costs $1000 by itself, and another thousand dollars in video cards.

    It’s true you COULD build a pretty solid machine for $1000 (I’ve done it).

    Besides, for the amount of power he’s got, it seems like a solid investment, even at full retail. He mentioned he got a deal on the CPUs, so it’d be even ebtter.

  8. janne – can you provide some more details on the software setup?

    Your use of FreeNAS as a storage space intrigues me, and I am wondering if it might help me with my son’s problem.

    I’m quite new to rendering. My 11 year old has blender installed on our Windows PC. He just recently purhcased an AMD Dual Core system that I installed Ubuntu 7 on and blender 2.44.

    (He’s starting to play with lip syncing animations – http://www.flyinglow.ca/matthew)

  9. So, you say that the cluster was cheap to build. Could we have a better idea on the price? Are we looking at $2000? More? Less?


  10. “Render jobs that took all night, now gets done in 10-12 min.”

    With only 6 computers, how does it get a perfomance boost factor of 40-50X?

    Is it maybe comparing an apple to an orange?

    “Render jobs that took all night (on a 1GHz Celeron), now gets done in 10-12 min.”

  11. Great idea and wonderful coincidence that this fits so smoothly into an Ikea file cabinet. Another issue is the PC-type hardware being used. I found standard-hardware to be not as reliable as it should be. With six of these boards fixing, debugging and administration can be quite a headache. I would spend some extra bucks to invest in server-hardware.

  12. That’s very nice.

    Only a matter of time before we all have computers with 64Gb of ram and 24 cores but I want it now.

  13. Regarding PXE booting or any other network booting. I’m no tech guy, I just need cpu speed, and just did helmer the dumb-but-fast-and working way ;) …and a really wanted a local swap space in case a fill the memory.

  14. Regarding FreenNAS. I used it because it’s so easy to use, and works with PC, mac and linux/unix. ..and free :) For a home server, you can get a fan-less VIA-luke nano itx card, with 2 sata ports. Get 2x 1TB drives and you have a very good, low cost zero noise home server. Intel have just released the atom chip, and Im realy eager to see it in real life.

  15. I think the question here is…what are they using all that rendering power for?

    Oh – and can anybody say F@H cluster?

  16. I ask myself what power he might get if he overclocks those babys. I think he uses Intel Q6600 Quat Processors these can take a clockspeed up to 4 ghz. Just think about what calculation power he might get – maybe up to 50 Gflops!!!

  17. OMG DUDE and your only running linux!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow i congratulate you on that one…. i love your computer……..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. A friend and I built another version of a 24-core Linux cluster built into a $29.99 Ikea Helmer cabinet. The total cost is $2550.11. The design and implementation is robust and elegant. On my blog, I show how to build it in pictures, breakdown the component costs, talk about air flow, and discuss idle and full speed temperatures. We think our solution is practical and feasible for other people needing a small cluster for specialty applications.

    http://obscuredclarity.blogspot.com/2008/09/24-core-linux-cluster-in-2999-case-from.html

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