Four Node Linux Commodity Minicluster

by Mitch Williams

A small Linux cluster for portability. Useful for demonstrations, tutorials and roadshows.

  • 4x Advanced Digital Logic Pentium MMX 266Mhz  processors 
  • 10baseT private network
  • external PCMCIA for wireless connection to the outside world
  • quad KVM switch for local diagnostics
  • dimensions: 5.3″x5.3″x13″
  • can be built by hand for ~ USD $6700 or integrated by Parvus Corp. for  an additional fee


This cluster turns out to be useful as a parallel programming teaching and demonstration tool. Created entirely out of commercial off-the-shelf PC/104 compliant parts, this cluster has all of the features that you would expect in normal-sized rack-mounted clusters, including individual keyboard, video and   mouse access to every node. CPU power is a little light in this incarnation, but   the CPU core module is upgradable to 700MHz, as of this date (11/20/01).

PC/104 Linux Minicluster Parts List

The following parts may be obtained from Parvus Corporation (800) 483-3152

QuantityPart NumberDescriptionUnit PriceAmount 
2PRV-0752A-02PC/104 10 Mbit Ethernet Hub169338.00
1PRV-0886A-01PC/104 Quad CPU Switch259259.00
1PRV-1016X-03PC/104 Dual PCMCIA Interface, Left Loading199199.00
1N/A50 Watt Power Supply140140.00
1PRV-0974A-01PC/104 Power Interface w/ Temperature Sensing249249.00
1PRV-0912A-54Mounting Plate6050.00
6PRV-0912A-10SnapGap set1060.00
1PRV-0912A-50End Plate1515.00
1N/ACustom 5X5 Clear Enclosure425425.00

The following Parts may be obtained from Advanced Digital Logic, Inc. (858) 490-0597

QuantityPart NumberDescriptionUnit PriceAmount 
4801562PC104plus Pentium 266 MHZ CPU6422568.00
4990725128 MB SO-DIMM S-DRAM58232.00
4807005Opt. –P+ Option: PC/104plus short connector27108.00
4807008Opt. –CF Compact Flash Socket modified for type II27108.00
1802605MSM-CK Cable Kit to PC/1046767.00

Links to Related Projects

Ron Minnich and and other contributors to the most excellent LinuxBIOS Project were inspired to create the Bento Cluster after our Minicluster demonstration at Supercomputing 2001.