Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

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Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by Daxaal on 3/5/2013, 7:42 am

Well earlier on today I went through my garage where I store various old computer parts and other components and realized some of the laptops I had collected that schools/universities had thrown out still work. I have about 10 laptops that are the exact same model, a dell Lattitude D610 laptop the only difference is that some have different amounts of ram, some have 1gb of ram and some have 2gb ram but I'm sure I have extra ram sticks that I collected from other computers that should fit and work.

Anyway my question is can I make a supercomputer by somehow combining these 10 laptops together so they output on one monitor and if so would I be able to play games on it at a much better speed? Currently I'm using a Dell D620 but it isn't powerful enough to play some of the newer games like League of Legends, Black Ops etc.

I'm hoping if I can somehow combine these 10 D610 laptops into some sort of supercomputer I would be able to get a much better performance than my single D620 Laptop. Also these 10 laptops have windows xp installed on them if that makes any difference Smile
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by KetchupFTW on 3/5/2013, 9:05 am

No you can't. Videocards in particular need a Crossfire or SLI bridge to work together (and that's not even possible in laptops). I'm pretty sure that it would be close to impossible (if not) for RAM and the CPU too.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQhqikWnQCU

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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by Heartstop123 on 3/5/2013, 5:22 pm

moved to computing
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by celeritas0 on 3/5/2013, 8:53 pm

If it's even possible at all, I'd say you probably wouldn't be asking us if you had any chance of pulling it off. You'd need to be a mad genius Razz
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by bs merchants on 4/5/2013, 1:07 am

In essence, the answer to your question is yes. Feasibly it is no.

You could set them up in a way that each motherboard only has a power supply, and lan connection(gut everything else (screens/keyboards etc)). You'd have one "master node" that you'd use as a control, this would have 2 boot partitions on its hard drive, one for itself and one for all the other "nodes" to boot from(boot over lan).
You would need to download a load balancing operating system to use for the nodes also.

Me and some friends did this a few years back with scrapped school pc's we managed to get 15 work nodes and 3 masters(to control it from). however it wasn't really particularly useful, as all the hardware was so archaic. I think we had about 20Gb ram in the end, all the processors were Intel core2 duo's so not particularly fast.

If you are interested in computing and the fundamentals of operating systems then its a great project buy don't realistically expect massive performance . It would be useless for gaming as you say you want as with all those processors you'd have 20 CPU cores probably. Any FPS games out currently are designed for 2/4/(6) cores so you wouldn't use 30% of the processing power. I'm not sure about playing black ops/mw3 but I can play league of legends with 50fps 1920x1080 using Intel 2500k on board graphics(system cost £650 2 years ago)

Also if you were thinking of doing anything like bitcoin mining or anything else computationally intensive many of those "programs" are best run on the graphics card as gfx cards are optimized for number crunching whereas CPU's are for decision making and IO control.
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by attk master on 4/5/2013, 2:05 am

nope, doubtful even with desktops, it would take like 20 CPUs, good luck finding a motherboard for desktops that supports even 2 processors. with servers you can create one though. this can be done theoretically though, just not with today's hardware.

why not sell those laptops and make a pwoerful gaming computer for like $2k? you coudl easily get $200 a piece, more if you added more ram. (4gb max for 32 bit oprating system, 8-32gb for 64 bit OS)
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by bs merchants on 4/5/2013, 3:01 am

attk master wrote:nope, doubtful even with desktops, it would take like 20 CPUs, good luck finding a motherboard for desktops that supports even 2 processors. with servers you can create one though. this can be done theoretically though, just not with today's hardware.

why not sell those laptops and make a powerful gaming computer for like $2k? you could easily get $200 a piece, more if you added more ram. (4gb max for 32 bit oprating system, 8-32gb for 64 bit OS)

Even with 20 CPU's it would make no difference, FPS games run on a maximum on 4-6 threads...
I think what the OP is meaning, is for a way to connect them all together, not physically take all the processors out and put them into one big motherboard(also motherboards for 2 processors are common and relatively cheap(even if the processors aren't))). You mention that with servers he can create one, probably less likely there are far less operating systems written for server hardware. And making a load balancing cluster can be done with todays hardware, many of the operating systems for such clusters are 15-20 years old and are barely supported anymore; Its more of a software issue, there hardware's been there since 1989 when Tim Berners-lee "created" the internet at CERN.
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by Daxaal on 4/5/2013, 4:02 am

Yeh I didn't really want to take out all the cpus and put them on a motherboard Razz I got the idea from this video



So I know I'm going to have one master node which will control the other nodes(other laptops) but how will I connect them exactly? Like what cables will I need (usb?) and is there any other hardware that I will need to connect them together? Also what load balancing operating system should I get and where can I find them Bs merchants?

Anyway I upgrade these 10 laptops to 2gb ram each, I can't upgrade to 4gb ram because the laptop just stops working when I put 4gb ram in. They are also 32 bit laptops.

bs merchants what can you do with a homemade supercomputer if they can't run games like you said. Would I be able to use it to render movies on adobe premiere pro then?
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by attk master on 4/5/2013, 5:08 am

Daxaal wrote:Yeh I didn't really want to take out all the cpus and put them on a motherboard Razz I got the idea from this video



So I know I'm going to have one master node which will control the other nodes(other laptops) but how will I connect them exactly? Like what cables will I need (usb?) and is there any other hardware that I will need to connect them together? Also what load balancing operating system should I get and where can I find them Bs merchants?

Anyway I upgrade these 10 laptops to 2gb ram each, I can't upgrade to 4gb ram because the laptop just stops working when I put 4gb ram in. They are also 32 bit laptops.

bs merchants what can you do with a homemade supercomputer if they can't run games like you said. Would I be able to use it to render movies on adobe premiere pro then?

the laptops must not support 4gb, so they're probably quite old. if you were to make these into a supercomputer they'd have the computing power of a potato compared to current supercomputers. i imagine they have either pentium or core 2 duo processors, they're quite weak, pentium was a failed attempt at high clock processors as well so that doesn't help. if this is for a personal project i wouldn't recommend doing it as you wouldn't be able to get anything out of it unless you were to be processing a lot of data, like trying to find the last number in pi or something. supercomputers are used to calculate large, complex equations and calculate large forms of data. the most powerful supercomputer in the world, TITAN, can preform 27 trillion calculations per second, an i7 3960x couldn't even come close to half of that, and it's the most powerful desktop processor available in the market. those 10 laptops would probably be able to preform better than the 3690x, but not be as powerful as a supercomputer. the project would be very interesting, but i wouldn't recommend it at all as it wouldn't really do anything.
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by bs merchants on 4/5/2013, 3:44 pm

Daxaal, if you want to do this the only reason to do so is to learn about computers. There will be no practical benefit to doing so. It would have no real use as anything it could do would be done better by A £100Graphics card or a modern processor, having 20 cpu cores is of no real benefit as nothing is optimized to run with that many threads.

If you want to do it, you'd need Ethernet cables to connect them all together and for an OS probably try Rocks (http://www.rocksclusters.org/) or Red Hat linux.

Once again ill say that you wont get any real performance out of it unless you intent do run your own programs that need 10+ threads, eg Biological/chemical simulations or large Matrix calculations.
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Re: Would I be able to make a supercomputer by combining laptops?

Post by Daxaal on 4/5/2013, 10:51 pm

Ok then so the problem seems to be it runs on too many threads for normal programs to use, so what if I just join 2 or even 4 laptops together, then will it be able to play games or run some common programs like adobe premiere pro?. Also I'm not really interested in making a super computer like the Titan Razz, don't need that much power just a bit more than what I have currently.

So Bs Merchants with a supercomputer you can only do calculations and simlulations? I thought they were also used for video rendering
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