In a bit of serendipity, reader [Tim Molter] had decided on the IKEA Helmer cabinet for his new cluster right before seeing the previous IKEA cluster we covered. He and his coding partner recently completed building their own version of the IKEA Linux cluster. The cabinet was $30 and holds six headless boxes. Each board has a quad-core AMD processor for a total of 24 cores. They also feature 1GB of RAM and an 80GB laptop SATA drive. The latter was chosen because of space limitations in the case. [Tim] describes the Helmer cabinet as being almost perfect. The power supply lines up with the top edge of the drawer and the motherboard fits with a millimeter to spare. Power buttons were added to the front plus slots for airflow. It looks like a really clean installation and at $2550, incredibly cheap for the processing power.
Building a render cluster doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, even if you’re buying brand new hardware. [Janne] built this 6 unit cluster inside of a 6 drawer IKEA Helmer cabinet. He wanted the cluster to be low power and low cost. After finding a good price on 6 65nm Intel Core 2 CPUs, he found 6 cheap Gigabyte motherboards. The memory on each board was maxed at 8GB. With 24 2.4GHz cores consuming 400W, the power consumption and cost isn’t much more than a high end PC. Each board is running Fedora 8 and mounts an NFS share. Dr Queue is used to manage the render farm’s processes. [Janne] says jobs that previously took all night now only require about 10-12 minutes. The estimated capacity is 186Gflops, but plans are already in motion for a12Tflop version.
His site also has plans for an underwater camera housing like our recent post. If you want to see more IKEA abuse, check out IKEA Hacker, even if it’s not very technical.
[UPDATE: yep, we duped ourselves]
[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.